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Chris Duffy Contacts All MLB Teams: Will He Get A Second Chance?

Chris Duffy Looks for An MLB Opportunity

By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer)  

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An interesting story broke out last week, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle wrote an article on Chris Duffy, A current independent ballplayer who has been searching for a chance to sign with a Major League team this spring. 

During his senior season at the University of Central Florida, Duffy was nominated for the Golden Spikes Award, which is annually given to the country’s best amateur baseball player.

He was nominated among the likes of Bryce Harper (who won the award), Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and Yasmani Grandal

Unlike the other four nominees, Duffy was not a first-round draft pick and was unable to make it to the major leagues just yet. He fell to the 26th round, where the Philadelphia Phillies finally swooped him up.
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The Houston Astros Should Not Trade The Popular Jose Altuve…Yet Or Maybe Ever…

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Friday May.03,  2013

Jose Altuve was named an ALL-Star Reserve at 2B in 2012 with his .309 AVG in the 1st half and after appearing in the 2011 Futures Game.  He hit .290 with 33 SB and 80 Runs in his 1st full season.  He is under club control until 2018.  Will he last in an Astros uniform until then?

Jose Altuve was named an ALL-Star Reserve at 2B in 2012 with his .309 AVG in the 1st half and after appearing in the 2011 Futures Game. He hit .290 with 33 SB and 80 Runs in his 1st full season. He is under club control until 2018. Will he last in an Astros uniform until then?

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent)  

Ever since last season, mentions of the Houston Astros trading their All Star Second Baseman have been cropping up, and for good reason. Whether you agree with me or not, Jose Altuve is an All Star, and not just because he is on the Astros.

Last season at the All Star game, Altuve was voted as the best Second Baseman in baseball by his peers (Major League players and Managers). He is a great ball player. He hits for a high Batting Average, Steals Bgs and has a some pop in his bat for his size. He also plays pretty good defense.

Jose Altuve (1 Altuve) faces Jon Rauch (1.29 Altuves):

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Astros Opening Day Dilemma At Minute Maid Park

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Thursday, March.14/2013

Minute Maid Park is jacking prices for Opening Day

Minute Maid Park is jacking up ticket prices for Opening Day.

By Richard Perez (Astros Correspondent):

A recent flame war has started on the web recently, Twitter to be specific, and people are upset about the Astros Opening Day ticket prices have been doubled. Why would they do that, you ask? Because this night is going to be the biggest night for the Houston Astros baseball club as far as marketing goes.

This, quite honestly, is much more than just another Opening Day baseball game. ESPN is going to broadcast it on national television; furthermore, if you asked yourself “why in the world would ESPN want to air an Astros game on national TV” when it first was announced, I’ll explain why.

As I just stated, this is MORE than just a baseball game, this is the very first game of the Astros’ inaugural season in the American League. A historic event for the franchise regardless of the product out on the field. This is about the franchise as a whole, not just what the analysts deem a team destined for a third straight one hundred loss season.

For those casual fans who want to just see a cheap baseball game, there will be 80 more games played this year in Minute Maid Park, go see one of those games.

Minute Maid Park Roof Opening:

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Can Nate Freiman Make The Houston Astros?

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Wednesday, February.27,  2013

Freiman has a 3 Slash Line of .294/.364/.847 in the Minor Leagues - with 71 HRs and 368 RBI in just 1876 AB for the Padres organization.

Freiman has a 3 Slash Line of .294/.364/.847 in the Minor Leagues – with 71 HRs and 368 RBI in just 1876 AB for the Padres organization.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

Nate Freiman was taken by the Houston Astros in the Rule V Draft. Freiman, a career .294 hitter in Minors, has never seen Major League playing time. He has that chance now. Freiman has shown the ability to hit, and hit with power. 2012 marked his second straight season driving in 100 runs or more. The only mark on Freiman that I have found is he doesn’t really have a position to play in the field. Good thing the Astros will have a DH this season!

It is simply crazy that the Padres had not protected this 6 Foot 7 Giant.  It may be a loss that will be felt for years if the man from Massachutsses pans out for Houston.

Nate Freiman walkoff HR for the San Antonio Missions:

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The Astros Miss Out On Reid Brignac

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Saturday, February.16,  2013

Brignac is known as more of a defensive specialist than anything.  He has a Career 3 Slash Line of .227/.268/.586.  He has to be extremely elated to be heading to hitter - friendly Coors Field.  He is Arbitration Eligible in 2014.

Brignac is known as more of a defensive specialist than anything. He has a Career 3 Slash Line of .227/.268/.586. The Shortstop/Second Baseman has to be extremely elated to be heading to hitter – friendly Coors Field. He is Arbitration Eligible in 2014.

By Lee White (Astros Correspondent) 

Since the Astros traded Jed Lowrie about a week ago, the Houston Astros have been looking at acquiring another shortstop. Reid Brignac, Rays shortstop, was on the Astros radar.

The Colorado Rockies acquired Infielder Reid Brignac from the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations. Brignac bounced around between Triple-A and the Rays last season. He hit .095 in 16 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. The 27-year-old Brignac was a Second-Round Pick by the Rays in the Amateur Draft of 2004.

Reid Brignac Highlights:  Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance is advised:

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Houston Astros Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward

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Thursday, December.27,  2012

houston-astros-logo

Nicholas Rossoletti (Baseball Writer):

The 2013 Houston Astros payroll is one of the stranger payrolls to look at given the current state of baseball where player’s salaries seem to be ever-increasing.  Before Dec.18, the Astros were paying exactly one player above One Million Dollars annually.  That player was shortstop, Jed Lowrie. Then, the team added 1B/DH Carlos Pena to its roster on a one year deal for approximately $2.9 Million according to reports and reliever, Jose Veras on a 1 Year/$1.85 Million dollar deal.  Thats it.  Three players earning more than a Million Dollars on a professional baseball franchise approximately sixty (60) days until pitchers and catchers report. (Please note that the Astros are rumored to be interested in signing Third Baseman Jose Lopez who may be added to this list). These are your 2013 Houston Astros, who are a far cry from the Astros of the mid-2000’s who signed Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, traded for Carlos Beltran and made a run at a World Series.  Read the rest of this entry

Is A Return to the Astros in the Cards For Lance Berkman?

Sunday December 2nd, 2012

Lance Berkman spent from 1999-2010 with the Houston Astros amassing 326 HRs and 1090 RBI with a stat line of .296/.410/.959.  With HOU moving to the AL West, will they make him a contract offer to possibly DH?

Lance Berkman spent from 1999-2010 with the Houston Astros amassing 326 HRs and 1090 RBI with a stat line of .296/.410/.959. With HOU moving to the AL West, will they make him a contract offer to possibly DH?

Jake Dal Porto (Baseball Writer):

With the move to the American League West, the Houston Astros are likely years away from contending in one of the toughest divisons in baseball. So basically, the Astros won’t be in the market for immediate impact players because that type of approach likely won’t get them anywhere in the standings. There’s one exception, though—Lance Berkman.

Berkman played with the Astros for 12 years before being traded to the Yankees in the midst of  the 2010 season, and eventually signing with the Cardinals where he has spent the last two years. Given his age (36) and his derailed body, Berkman might choose to end his career with the team that drafted and brought him up. It would be bittersweet for both sides involved, and something positive for a struggling Astros’ organization. 

The timing for the Astros and Berkman to reunite is seemingly perfect. See, if the Astros still played in the National League, it would be unlikely that Berkman could endure another year of wear and tear on his fragile frame. Well, he could, but the likelihood of him suffering an injury would balloon dramatically. Luckily, the Astros now have the benefit of the designated hitter. It’s like adding another hitter. This is where Berkman comes into play. Read the rest of this entry

What 2012 Really Meant to the St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday November 1st, 2012

2012 was a season that ended with disappointment which ultimately distracted us from recognizing what a successful year it really was. 2012 highlighted a lot of the greatness that is to come for this great franchise.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer)

The St. Louis Cardinals came into 2012 as the defending World Series Champions.  In 2011 they just eked their way into the post season on the final day of the regular season when they defeated the Houston Astros and the Braves, who were tied for the wild card spot with St. Louis, ended up losing to the Phillies in extra innings.  Coming into the 2011 postseason, the Cardinals were huge underdogs.  That didn’t stop them from going for what they wanted: to win it all.

While most analysts amongst the sport would not have guessed St. Louis would even make it to the World Series, yet alone win it, the Red Birds emerged to show their true colors.  The current team that the city of St. Louis has assembled and gets to watch for 81 games a year is, undoubtedly, a team that plays on all cylinders and the highest octane fuel.  They play with the intensity of a little league team that wants nothing more than the coach to bring them out for ice cream when they win. Watching the Cardinals brand of baseball is to watch baseball again as a game, and not just as a competition played by millionaire athletes with tremendous talent.

Watching the scrappiness of St. Louis native David Freese in the 2011 playoffs is the perfect example.  His David Eckstein-like approach to the game reminds us all of one of our teammates back in middle school.  The one at the sandlot that always slid hard, tried to steal home, and complained when the rest of us wanted to go home because “it was getting dark”.  In 2011, David Freese and his 39 teammates played baseball together as a true team and sent Tony LaRussa home with a World Series title in his final year managing.  Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Trades And Deadline Deals Revisited for Contenders: Who Won and Lost

Friday, October.26/2012

Ichiro Suzuki played the best baseball he has in the last 2 years with the Yankees. It would be a wise move to re-sign the guy for at least the next season. In my opinion, they should have Jeter and Suzuki linked together on the club until they retire.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I love the new era of baseball.  One thing the 2nd Wild Card team enabled this year was a flurry of transactions right near the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, plus we even saw a bunch of trades between Aug.01-31 as well.  I am not going to breakdown the trades for who went the other way (unless both teams were in contention) since we have a dedicated page for that here.  What I am going to do is see who made out well with their new player.  I will tell you right  now that the hands down winner was the San Francisco Giants for picking up Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence.  Marco Scutaro hit .362 for the Giants and smacked 90 hits in 61 games.  He has parlayed another 19 hits in 59 AB during the playoffs (.322).

I am going to be writing a series of payroll breakdowns for each MLB team in the offseason.  I have already compiled reports for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals.  These reports can be found in my author archives here.  In addition to this, I am going to write another piece on Payroll Strategy specifically geared towards making runs at trades near the deadline.  Look for those in the coming weeks.  The work never ends here, and we will have you game ready for spring training when it comes to all of the clubs. Read the rest of this entry

Just How Bad Are The Houston Astros?

Wednesday September 12th, 2012

Sam Evans: The 2012 Houston Astros are breaking records every day. If you have followed baseball at all these last two years, you know that these aren’t records that are normally associated with winning baseball teams. At their current pace, this year’s Houston team is on pace to lose at least 111 games. What Jeff Luhnow and others are doing to turn around the losing in Houston looks great, but it doesn’t hide the fact that the product the Astros are putting out on the field is historically bad.

Since 1962, only one team (the 2003 Detroit Tigers) has lost more than 108 games in a single-season. The 2003 Detroit Tigers were pretty awful, but it’s not like they were bereft of talent. That team featured a young Jeremy Bonderman in the rotation and Fernando Rodney pitched out of the bullpen. That Tigers team also had Dmitri Young, Carlos Pena, Omar Infante, Andres Torres, and Cody Ross. Looking at the current Astros’ roster, I don’t see anywhere close to that level of talent. Read the rest of this entry

Houston Should Give Roger Clemens a Spring Training Non-Roster Invite

Monday, September 10 , 2012

Sam Evans: The Houston Astros are most likely not going to win seventy games next year.  With a young starting rotation, it would make sense for the Astros to pursue a veteran starter for the 2013 season. Not because it would put Houston over the top and have them competing for a playoff spot, but because a veteran could have a positive influence on the younger starters and limit their innings. Roger Clemens has expressed in interest in returning to Houston and he has impressed in two starts for Sugar Land of the independent Atlantic League. Houston should give Roger Clemens a spring training non-roster invite to see if he can pitch in the majors in 2013.

In just his second start with Sugar Land, Clemens got the opportunity to pitch to his son Koby Clemens.   After the game, Clemens said “What a special game this is when you have opportunity at 50 to go out there and play a little catch with your oldest son.” That’s an awesome quote. Anyways, Clemens fastball was sitting at 86-88 MPH and he threw his curveball, changeup, and splitter as well. The Rocket pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings. In eight innings for Sugar Land, Clemens has yet to allow a run.

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A Busch Stadium Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest Thirty Ballgames’

Friday, Aug.03/2012

Game#25 Day#24
Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO
Aug.01/2008

I never thought anything was going to equal the previous day. We had arrived back at my brother’s house to spend a quality morning with my nieces and nephew—and Trent’s wife Kristy before returning to the road. It was a quick trip from Philadelphia to St. Louis. It was going to cost us a fortune to all take the shuttle into the Hilton at $17 each-so I got us on the next transportation shuttle bus, and then negotiated a deal with Budget to give me an extra few hours head start on the 24 hour time line  airport rule—so I would not have to return after the St. Louis game to pick up the Mini-SUV, which had been the original plan.

Budget was awesome to let me have this deal early. I am a Fast Break member with them-and have/had spent a lot of money with them. We got a Mitsubishi SUV. My brothers thought it was a little small, but for a $65.00 rental that started out in St. Louis and ended up the next day in Minnesota-it was a great deal. Yes we had a five-hour drive from St. Louis to Chicago tomorrow, but we were all tough guys. I once again told them-“welcome to my world.”
That day in St. Louis was myopic. My brother Trent knew a guy at head office St. Louis, and that gentlemen made a few calls and arranged for my dad and I too receive ‘Field Passes’-and to be interviewed by Fox-Sports Midwest. I was almost in disbelief of that option, but it was now going to happen later that day. This experience was even better because none of us had been to new Busch Stadium-so all of us were there for the first time. Overall it was my 29th stadium so I only had “The Ballpark In Arlington” for stadiums left to complete my active 30. Much like Coors, Safeco and AT&T Park, the red-brick around the whole Stadium at Busch Stadium is top-notch. Read the rest of this entry

Us Cellular Field: Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest 30 Ball Games.’

Wednesday August.01/2012

Baseball Park World Record Chasing All-Started for me at US Cellular Field. I had my first retro-active game if needed) on July.1/2008 of my first ever streak chase. I also finished my 30-29 at the CEL.’ I had gone to 40 Baseball Games in 35 Days overall.

     Game#2 Day#1

US Cellular Field

Chicago, IL

July.02/2008

I had a tip from my brother Trent early on in the planning stages, that the United States airline companies often ‘sand-bag’ their flying times to destinations to take jet-way delays into consideration.  More often than not, the airlines are able to beat the scheduled arrival time by many minutes.  I actually used a tool on the internet called ‘Flight Tracker’ to watch the very flight I was on to see if this was a correct statement.  I watched this exact flight land 4 weeks in a row, all approximately 15 minutes earlier then the 6:32 PM time it was supposed to arrive on that day.  That day I was not as lucky.  It was after all a ‘Chicago Airport.’  Still at a 6:30 PM arrival-I had about 40 minutes to first pitch.  I had called in a sedan service to pick me up from ‘MIDWAY’.

True to their word, there was a young guy in his twenties waiting for me in the arrival gate and he escorted me through to the limo stand at a running pace.  I saw it had started to rain and weather was something I would always keep my eye on during transportation throughout the trip. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #3 07/25: HanleyWood: Hanley to the Dodgers, Wandy, and More

Wednesday July 25th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Some more trades came down, including one exciting blockbuster to report. One of the biggest names though that was supposed to be traded will now be staying put. Cole Hamels, the Phillies great young left-handed starter is expected to re-sign for 6-years and $144 million. But even  with Hamels off the market, the trade winds are in full swing.  Hold on to your hats…this is HUGE:

Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers

Another blockbuster deal. Announced late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, Hanley Ramirez is headed to the Dodgers with reliever Randy Choate for pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. There were rumblings about a possible trade of Hanley, and it ended up happening. Hanley will start fresh on the west coast as the Dodgers are battling with the Giants for the NL West crown. The Dodgers started off hot with Matt Kemp leading the charge. Kemp went down with a hamstring injury and was re-injured in his first game back. After another DL stint, Kemp came back right after the All Star Break. Andre Either also had some time on the DL with an oblique injury, but he has since come back. Now, both are healthy and poised to help the Dodgers on a run down the stretch. With Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley heading the pitching staff, one of the Dodgers’ weakest positions was third base. Juan Uribe, the main third baseman for the Dodgers this year, is hitting a weak .190 with just two homers and 17 RBI. Dee Gordon, the primary shortstop and currently on the DL, is hitting .229. Needless to say, the Dodgers needed some help on the left side of the infield. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Trade Deadline Update 7/23: Dempster, Blue Jays, Astros, and More

Monday July 23rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: As the trade deadline looms, teams are scrambling to make a final buy or sell in order to push toward the playoffs. Some teams are trying to get value out of their soon-to-be free agents while other teams are rebuilding. Here are some of the big deals that have gone down in the past few days:

Blue Jays and Astros—10 player deal. Big names: J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, David Carpenter, Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, Carlos Perez

The Astros are obviously in their rebuilding phase. Last year, they gave up Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and the year before they gave up Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Earlier this year, Carlos Lee went to the Marlins for top prospect Matt Dominguez and others.  More recently Brett Myers went to the White Sox for minor league pitchers and J.A. Happ went to the Blue Jays along with relievers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, and other prospects in a ten-player trade. With these deals this year, the Astros have removed virtually all big names from the team. Not to say that J.A. Happ was a big name player, but he was a well-regarded pitcher that the Phillies gave up in the Roy Oswalt trade. Also given up by the Astros is former closer Brandon Lyon. He gave up the closer role to Brett Myers this year, but he does have the capability to serve in the back-end of a bullpen. Read the rest of this entry

The Jose Altuve Phenomenon

Friday June.15/2012

Jose Altuve is listed as 5 foot five although he may be even shorter than that. His lethal swings have created a new metric measurement based on his height called an ‘Altuve.’ Everyone is picking up the new measurement including social media platforms dedicated to the cause: @howmanyaltuves on twitter and the official website http://www.howmanyaltuves.com –Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Baseball lends itself to traditions and nicknames like no other sport in the world.  During last year, there were two phenomenons in the form of social media and radio.   I was lucky enough to be part of them both.  The MLB ‘Fancave’ sidekick Ryan Wagner was dubbed ‘thickish’ by Mitch Williams of the MLB Network.  The social media took off on his nickname and blogs, websites and a lot of the Fancave skits had Mike O’ Hara calling Wagner ‘thickish.’  I love things like this. I took it upon myself to be the West Coast distributor of the movement.  I was even fortunate enough to have Ryan Wagner write a blog about my buddy Justin and I.  It was cool  to be part of the fun of this social media driven nickname.

Then the summer of 2011 hit.  I was listening to MLB Roundtrip like I do every night while at work.  Mike Ferrin and Morgan Ensberg were talking about Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros.  There were saying the man was swinging out of his cleats like he was Paul Bunyan.  They also mentioned that Altuve was the leader of the Texas League (before his call up) for average.  The next thing I knew Ensberg suggested that they should come up with a new unit of measurement called an “Altuve.”  The idea would be that you can divide the total amount of feet hit for a home run divided Jose Altuve’s height.  I couldn’t stop laughing at the concept.  To me,  Ensberg was entirely right, Altuve does sound like a unit measurement!   For the next few weeks, the guys kept on speaking of long homers hit and how many Altuve’s they would go. Read the rest of this entry

The First Five Games of The Streak

Tuesday April.10/2012

Douglas “Chuck” Booth at Citi April 9th

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)- Well, I finally get a chance to breathe for one second.  Too bad it was at the expense of the events that transpired yesterday.  Contrary to popular belief, this world record streak is not a walk in the park. Traveling is a hard thing to do at the best of times.  I will break down the trip synopsis game by game.  I am breaking down the travel games at Parks day by day. Read the rest of this entry

Minute Maid Park Review: Courtesy of Stadium Journey’s Correspondent Paul Derrick

Sunday, April. 8/2012

This review is courtesy of www.stadiumjourney.com, the best source for stadium reviews and information.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Minute Maid Park

Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. The Astros have been calling Houston home since 1962. Originally known as the Colt .45s in 1962, then after the .45s moved to the world’s first multi-purpose dome (Astrodome) they became the Astros. In 2000, the Astros made another move to their current home of Minute Maid Park, located in downtown Houston. Minute Maid Park, like its predecessor, was one of the first of its kind being one of the first retractable-roofed stadiums. This was definitely a great idea as fans are protected from Houston’s notoriously humid weather, but also allows fans to enjoy outdoor baseball during favorable weather. Minute Maid Park has the capacity to seat just under 41,000 people.

Minute Maid Park is definitely a one of a kind venue. The largest entrance to the park is inside what was once Houston’s Union Station, and the left field side of the stadium features a train as homage to the site’s history.

The train moves along a track on top of the length of the exterior wall beyond left field whenever an Astros player hits a home run, or when the Astros win a game. The engine’s tender, traditionally used to carry coal, but is usually filled with giant oranges in tribute to Minute Maid’s most famous product, orange juice.

The playing field also has a lot of neat nooks and crannies to it from the short porch in left known as the Crawford Boxes to Tal’s Hill in center. Another cool feature you will see at Minute Maid is a concourse above Tal’s Hill which features the “Conoco Home Run Porch” in left-center field that is actually over the field of play, and features a classic gasoline pump that displays the total number of Astros home runs hit since the park opened.

For fans that have attended Minute Maid in the past but not in 2011, new for the 2011 season is a large HD screen nicknamed “El Grande” replacing the original one in center field. At 54 feet high and 124 feet wide, it is the second largest scoreboard in Major League Baseball, behind Kauffman Stadium. The old screen was taken out and replaced by billboards. Additionally they added a smaller HD screen on the far left field wall. The ring of advertisement screens around the park have also been replaced in favor of HD ribbon boards in 2011.

 

Fan Fare Score 4.1 stars          

Crowd Score 3.6 stars    

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the “FANFARE Score”.

Food & Beverage    5

No trip to the ballpark is complete without some peanuts and crackerjacks (or so the song says, anyway). Fortunately, Minute Maid Park, has a bevy of food choices for you.

I’ll start by mentioning the Astros’ Sizzling Grille located in sections 116 and 125 where you can enjoy a Texas sized mild or hot sausage with your choice of toppings on a fresh baked poppy seed roll. If your taste buds are yearning for some fresh cooked sausages then the Sizzling Grill is where you need to be.

One of my favorite spots is the FiveSeven Grille owned by two of the greatest Astros of all time, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. The FiveSeven Grille is a nice sitdown resturant that offers a variety of great options as well as to go orders for fans to enjoy in their seats. The FiveSeven Grille is located near section 156.

A couple other favorites of mine include the Goya Latin Cafe and Lefty’s BBQ at Union Station. The Goya Latin Cafe has one of the best chicken in chipotle sauce I have ever had. They offer a vast array of different products from Beef Picadillo to grilled Cuban sandwiches. The Goya even offers frozen sangrias and margaritas if that is what you are in the mood for. The Goya Cafe can be found behind home plate near section 119. My last favorite spot is Lefty’s BBQ which offers mouth watering Texas favorites like beef brisket, ribs, sausages and smoked turkey with all the great fixins. If Texas BBQ is on your mind then Lefty’s is your place.

Minute Maid definitely provides many options and are right on par with most MLB park prices, so definitely make sure you bring a big appetite and even bigger checkbook.

Atmosphere    4

The atmosphere at Minute Maid Park is unfortunately declining the worse the team gets. As of the time of this review (July 2011) the Astros are the worst team in baseball and on their way to their first 100-loss season in franchise history. So anytime you go to Minute Maid Park now you may see a more than average influx of opposing fans at games, especially when some of the big teams like the Cubs, Cardinals or Mets are in town. At times you may see a 50/50 crowd if someone like the Red Sox or Yankees are in town for inter-league play.

There are still neat things around the ballpark that provide that great baseball atmosphere, but the fans are definitely hurting this atmosphere. The Astros provide a great atmosphere for the kids as well as the diehard baseball fan. It just seems the baseball atmosphere will get worse before it gets better.

Neighborhood    4

As I mentioned earlier, Minute Maid Park is in downtown Houston so you have a variety of options. I will list a couple of my ballpark favorites. First off is the Home Plate Bar & Grill. The place is packed during every Astros home game, but it’s virtually empty in the off-season. Predictably, the decor is a stuffed-to-the-gills collection of autographed jerseys and posters of sports figures. Intent on watching the game? Sit downstairs – the mezzanine section has just two 13-inch TVs. The food wins big points, but drinks and service are somewhat lacking. The incredibly delicious crawfish po’boy is Tuesday’s standout special. Wash it down with a $2.50 Mexican beer or $1.50 well drinks.

Another option right outside the ballpark is The B.U.S. If you end up on Travis St. on the way to Minute Maid Park for an Astros game, just look for the big blob of Stros gear, Ray-Bans, and Ice Cold brew all nestled under an open warehouse-like bar right across from the stadium and you have come across the B.U.S. Inside you will find 2 main bars made out of wood, many large old school big screen TVs, projections, pool tables, darts, shuffle board, an uber amount of sports memorabilia, and a bunch of happy, fired up baseball fans having a good time whether they have tickets to the game or not. It’s not the cheapest place as far as beer prices, but overall it’s a great place to unwind, relax, and drink up before or even after the game.

Fans    3

Well, as bad as I hate to say this, Astros fans are some of the worst fair weather fans you will find in the league. Just a little over five years ago, Minute Maid Park was buzzing with fans as the Astros made their run at the World Series. Unfortunately for the ‘Stros, the fans, and Minute Maid Park it has gone down hill since then. I will say if you are still looking for some of those diehard fans you’re better off looking for them in the 300 and 400 sections rather than lower to the field. I have sat all throughout Minute Maid Park and have found the more dedicated and knowledgeable fans seem to be higher up. Unfortunately for the fans it doesn’t look like they are going to get any better any time soon, so they will just have to hope the rebuilding process doesn’t take as long as it did in Pittsburgh.

Access    4

Access to Minute Maid Park is usually not too bad. If you work downtown or are visiting, then I would highly recommend taking the Light Rail. Unfortunately, the city of Houston still has a pretty dismal public transportation system. As long as you aren’t fighting the usually brutal Houston traffic though, getting to Minute Maid can be pretty easy.

Parking will cost anywhere from $10-$20 depending on the distance from the ballpark as well as importance of the game. The concourses are wide enough to make a trip all the way around the ballpark with ease.

Bathrooms are plentiful and I have never noticed much of a line during my many visits.

Return on Investment    5

Right now (2011) is about the best return on investment you will ever find at Minute Maid Park. With plenty of promotional deals, the Astros are making a trip to Minute Maid Park quite an affordable trip for the family. The Astros offer promotions like all summer long kids are free, so I can buy a regularly priced ticket and both of my sons get in free. If you’re planning a trip to Minute Maid Park in the near future I would definitely check the promotional schedule to see when you can get the most out of your money.

Extras    4

There are a few neat extras I like about the park. One is Tal’s Hill. I think it adds that special unique aspect to Minute Maid Park. As well as it can make for some great blooper reels or SportsCenter highlights depending on how the center fielder handles the hill.

Another great extra is the Train located on tracks at the top of the stadium. It is a neat fixture and the kids love it.

One of my favorite extras is the singing of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” during the seventh inning stretch. You don’t even have to be a fan of baseball to enjoy that. Trust me, no matter what your age is you will be hard pressed from at least humming the tune during this.

My last point goes out to the great inclusion of the retractable roof which makes plenty of fans happy on those blistering hot summer days.

Paul Derrick

***Thanks to Paul Derrick and Paul Swaney for giving us all of this great information on Minute Maid Park.  Be Sure to check out their entire site for ballpark reviews.  They are also coming out with an MLB Magazine shortly.  sign up here for all of the latest updates at Stadium Journey.***

Paul Swaney and his son

www.stadiumjourney.com, the best source for stadium reviews and information.

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The End of the Astros: Bring Back the Houston Colt .45s

Saturday November 19, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The big news of the day in Houston is the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane.  Drayton McLane is out as owner.  The final price tag for the team was $615 million.  The catch?  Starting in 2013, the Astros are being realigned to the AL West.  “Houston” has played in the National League since 1962, the year the team was awarded the franchise.  But after 50 years playing NL baseball, the Astros are off to play in the American League.  Houston fans are somewhat dismayed…all the way to upset.  There are season ticket holders that are choosing not to renew their ticket packages.  Attendance is down.  The team has gutted to the point that it is almost a AAA team.  Now, the team is being moved to the American League.  For fans of National League baseball, this move is hard to swallow.  A big advantage of the move is the rivalry that will come into place with the neighboring Texas Rangers.  But with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics in the same division, time zones will be a big problem for Astros fans watching road games.  With all the minuses in the equation, something else needs to be done.  The move to the AL, may create somewhat of a buzz, but perhaps not enough to repair the damages that will result from the move.  The solution?  Re-brand the Astros.  Bring back the Colts .45s.

For you baseball history buffs, the Houston Colt .45s was the original name for the Houston MLB franchise.  The name was conceived by a “pick the name contest”- and what a name it was!  With the idea of the “old west”, the idea of the old colt .45 gun was very cool and classic.   It really fit the Texas mold.  The team even played at Colt Stadium.  But three years later, the team had its own indoor stadium.  The famous (or infamous) Astrodome.  For thirty-five years, the Astrodome was known as the first indoor MLB stadium with the first non-grass surface (appropriately named AstroTurf).  With the space program popularity in Houston, the team very much built itself on the “Astro” concept.  The Houston Astros.  AstroTurf.  The Astrodome.  But now, Houston:  We have a problem.  The team changed locations into a retractable roof stadium in 2000.  Originally named Enron Field and now Minute Maid Park.  No more Astrodome.  The field in the new park, was grass.  No more AstroTurf.  In fact, only the Rays and Blue Jays still play on turf.  So with the Astrodome and AstroTurf gone, why stick with the “Astros” name? The space program connection was probably very hip and trendy in its day.  But as long as I can remember (80’s – Present), the Astros name is not a beloved or dear brand.  It is time to end the final link to the Astros days.

Everything old is new again.  Retro is in.  People love nostalgia, especially baseball fans.  I can’t recall one baseball conversation that I have ever had that included the Colt .45s without the party getting excited.  There was something about that name and logo.  Part of it was the short life span (only three seasons).  It is a very “cool” name.  Original.  You just don’t see a sports team with a name like that.  Then you take into account the logo and Colt .45s envy begins.  I have been to Cooperstown.  I have been to many major league stadiums.  Bring up the Colt .45s name and you generate excitement.  So here is my proposal.  Starting in 2013, to coincide with their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros would become known as the Houston Colt .45s.  The result?  The team would carry excitement and interest everywhere they go.  Merchandise sales would be through the roof.  For a team with a sub-par talent level playing in a league that is largely opposed by its fan base, renaming the team would give the edge that is needed.

I know what many of you are going to say.  I can hear it now.  You cannot promote guns.  Guns means violence and killing.  It will send a bad message.  Etc…Etc…Etc… I get it.  Yes.  Many of you that are sensitive to these issues may be initially “gun-shy” about the idea.  But let’s be realistic.  There is violence and bad influences all over society, from televisions shows, movies, commercials, music, magazines, video games and much of pop culture.  To me, it is not like it is a picture of a bullet or open wound.  Much of the younger generation wouldn’t necessarily know that a colt .45 was a gun.  From there, with a classic and simple logo- the “gun” part of the colt .45s shouldn’t conjure up violence and negative images.  It is simply a a piece of history.  Almost a work of art.  A piece of Houston history and culture.  Like the old wild west.  When the Colt .45s come to play, it will be like an old-time showdown.  The name is chique.  The logo is very hip.  It will be a winner.

For you baseball fans that are about ready to jump out of your seat and order your Colt .45s jersey, I have some bad news.  The name change is not coming any time soon.  It still remains a figment of my imagination and passion.  But with enough of a vision and push, it could happen.  I have seen stranger things develop.  I can see only good things happening if the Houston Colt .45s return.  Even if the publicity is not all positive, the name change will get many fans talking.  A buzz will be created.  For a team that is on the decline and with little upside to look forward to, a name change is probably the biggest quick-fix scheme you will find.  Let’s bury the Astros name with the Astrodome and AstroTurf.  After erasing two mistakes, let’s finish off the third and final portion and bring back respectability to Houston.  Let’s give the team an old/new identity.  The Colt 45 will become the weapon that Houston uses to climb back to baseball respectability and eventually excellence.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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The Astros Move To The AL West

Sunday  October 30, 2011

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  As an amazing 2011 MLB postseason has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to next year. The Houston Astros have been,” looking forward to the next year,” since the last time they made the playoffs in 2006. It’s time for a change in Houston and Bud Selig and Jim Crane are currently working on a plan to make a big-time change for baseball’s future in Houston.

Times have been hard recently for Astros fans. Widely considered the worst team in baseball, the Astros home attendance has steadily decreased every year since 2006. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and their minor league system shows only small glimmers of hope on the way.

In the middle of June, rumors began  floating around that the Astros would move to the American League, as early as the 2013 season. This would provide each league with an even fifteen teams and six five team divisions. Also, you have to think that Major League Baseball wants to start a rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers. Well now in October, these rumors have become more serious and now it appears inevitable that the Astros will be realigned to the American League West.

Although we don’t know when exactly this move will take place,we have figured out that it will happen. It will be interesting to see if the Astros shop for a DH this or next offseason because if they do move by 2013, having nine Major League quality hitters in their lineup would be a big asset. It would make sense for them to bring back Carlos Lee if they were indeed moving to the AL, because he would be a much more productive DH than an outfielder.

I actually think that this would be a good move both for MLB and for the Astros. For MLB, they finally fix the glaring trivia answer which is, why there is an uneven number of teams in each league.  Balanced divisions, until increased to 32 Major League teams by way of expansion, will lead to an unbalanced schedule.  15 teams per league means that there will need to be an interleague game scheduled every week.  Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it.  But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.  Having weekly interleague match-ups will actually help solve the unbalanced interleague issue.  In current play, some fans have complained that the same interleague match-ups are in place every year- with not all teams from each of the different leagues matching up.  Having weekly interleague games means that all AL and NL teams will face-off during the season at some point.  Greater exposure for each of the teams in each MLB city should lead to greater enthusiasm for the fans and a more balanced approach to scheduling interleague games.  It is not a perfect system- far from it.  But until Major League Baseball brings in 2 more teams and creates a 16/16 league split, having the 15/15 split will at least allow for balanced divisions and equal chances to make the playoffs.

For the Astros, I seriously believe they could start one of the best rivalries in baseball with the Rangers. This would be beneficial not only for the Astros as an organization, but their fans and attendance as well. Let’s make one thing clear though in the interim: the current “rivalry” between the Astros and Rangers is a joke. The ony time they face off is in interleague games, and neither team has any more incentives in those games as compared to any other games. However, I think if they actually played each other as division rivals frequently, and the fans became passionate about those games, then they could actually start a strong rivalry for years to come.

Astros fans have been against this move for two main reasons. The first is that they would lose their history with the National League (and specifically, NL Central teams). The main reason however, is that they would play West Coast teams more, which would mean that games against Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim would start at a later time. I can fully understand and appreciate the Astros fans feelings on the subject. The only counterexample I can offer is what Rangers fans already go through with this same dilemma and they same to have done just fine.

At the end of the day, I think the Astros should move to the American League West. It makes sense for the current MLB system. Furthermore, this franchise looks in need of a fresh start and maybe a new division could help provide that.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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