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Archive for March, 2013

Commentary and Dante will be heading to The Yard this Good Friday evening.  Hope they have some tasty meatless grub.  Sunday is Opening Day and Bethany and I will be on hand.  If you can’t make it to The Yard Sunday you can check the game out on ESPN.  

Of course a lot of fans have still not bought in to the reduced payroll ‘Stros as you can still buy tickets at dynamic pricing on the ‘Stros website.  As of this morning there are over 2,300 tickets available on stub hub. 

MY nephew Dave sent me a link here  http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9109596/alex-rodriguez-make-more-houston-astros-combined-salary. about A-Roid making more this season than the entire ‘Stros payroll.  The item was also mentioned on the “Today Show” this morning.  That’s not the kind of national media run we need.

In what year did the ‘Stros set their highest season attendance record?

The ‘Stros owner says he is not going to blink in his negotiations with U-Verse, DirecTV, and Dish over carrying the ‘Stros according to a story in the Chron today.  Here is from one of the team network negotiators:

“We have gone back and forth (with providers).  We have placed proposals in front of them, but the bottom line we are feeling is that the providers simply are just unwilling to move unless they are absolutely forced to, and that is with the fans out there and their customers demanding that they get this deal done.  Despite our own efforts, we are growing less optimistic by the day that we will reach agreement (by the opening series). We’re concerned with that.”

So it is up to the fans?   Do the fans really care if they see the team whacked consistently night in and night out?

Here is from the owner:

“When we saw DirecTV, they said they had only lost a few customers.  Well, when they lose a few thousand customers, guess what: They’re going to pay that rate pretty quick, and everything is going to start running pretty smooth.”

Now let’s see.  The Rockets seem to be heading to the playoffs and they can only be seen in 40% of H-Town area households and the non providers have still not cratered because they haven’t felt the pressure from fans.

Here is what one of the providers said:

“an agreement with the owners of CSN Houston that allows customers to choose whether they want to pay to see the games or not. We are ready and willing to have that discussion any time.”

Is this like pay-per-view?

U-Verse says this:

“As we’ve said before, we would like to make this network available to our customers, but CSN Houston is demanding a high price for the same team games that, as of last season, were available on other channels we already carry and pay for. The only other major TV provider that has agreed to carry this network is Comcast, which is a partial owner of the network. We believe the extra value is not being created for the extra cost, and it seems that other major TV providers agree.”

Well why don’t they just get rid of Fox Sports Southwest and replace it with CSN?

If the owner is waiting for the fans to put the pressure on the providers he may have to wait a while.  If demand for tickets to The Yard is an indicator, don’t look for a deal to happen anytime soon.  Why would some fans want to pay a little more dough to see a $25 million payroll team?

Here is the story on the issue.

In 2004, the team drew 3,087,872 fans of course to The Yard.

Oh yeah, the Cubbies are in town this evening.

 

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The Mayor decided to put in her two cents on the Rockets/’Stros/CSN/satellite provider fight on carrying the Rockets and ‘Stros.  U-Verse and Direct TV and others do not have the ‘Stros/Rockets on their grid because they don’t want to ask their customers to shell out more dough per month.  The Mayor’s comments were covered on TV and in the Chron.  Commentary doesn’t really worry about this because I have Comcast.  Here is from Chron.com:

“It is about dollars,” (Mayor Annise) Parker said. “I respect the fact that a cable provider has to provide what they consider the best value for their shareholders and for their customers but, again, the taxpayers of Houston paid for these venues, we want the opportunity to watch the major league teams that we support play.”

And:

As an aside, Parker said she also was concerned that Astros games on radio are moving to Clear Channel Media’s 5,000-watt KBME (790 AM) from 50,000-watt KTRH (740 AM).

“These are business decisions by big league teams, and big league teams have to recognize that fans are part of the equation, just as the cable providers have to recognize that they are not just providing programming, they’re providing a service to the fans in the community,” Parker said. “I find both sides, their stubbornness is problematic.”

Here is the entire Chron piece.

I am apparently part of the 40% of H-Town area households that will be able to see the games on the flat screen when I’m not at The Yard.

This is about the providers and the teams and CSN and how much money they are all going to make.  In the end they will stick it to the fans.  That always happens.

I don’t have a problem with The Mayor handing out her two cents on the ‘Stros.  Heck, I do it every now and then.

Meanwhile, in today’s Chron only available to subscribers, Ken Hoffman has a piece about $12 burgers and $10 hot dogs that will be served at The Yard this season.

MariGirl and I had to go Downtown yesterday and we decided to make a stop at The Yard to pick up some new gear for Opening Day.  We ran into a Channel 2 news crew and they interviewed us about the 2013 ‘Stros.  The story is supposed to air tomorrow.  Check it out!

Everybody knows that Commentary is a huge “Today Show” fan.  I wake up with them every morning.  I was pleasantly surprised when I was watching yesterday morning as Jenna Wolfe announced she’s having a baby.  Congrats to Jenna and her partner NBC correspondent Stephanie Gosk!

BTW:  I did pick up one the new lids yesterday.  I wonder if The Mayor has any of the new gear.

According to a study, the ‘Stros are dead last among MLB teams in fan loyalty.  I’m shocked! We’re #30, we’re #30!  Check this:

The index uses four measures of loyalty, Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff told the Marketing Daily: how exciting a team is during competition; how well they play as a team; how well respected and admired the players are; and the extent to which the game and the team are part of a fans’ and community’s rituals, institutions and beliefs.

Here is more on the study.

Don’t blame me!

Here is from the Houston Press on the 2013 ‘Stros:

So coming off of a 55-107 season, with a less experienced, far less expensive roster, and moving into a division where they play Oakland, Texas, Anaheim, and Seattle 19 times apiece, it’s hard to envision the Astros cracking the 59 1/2 win total that Vegas has put up for them.

So reluctantly, and merely as a sound investment, I will take the UNDER on 59 1/2 wins for your Astros

Here is the entire piece.

If you don’t want to spoil your Opening Day experience, then stay away from the Houston Press’ cover story on the ‘Stros that you can check here.

It would not surprise me if Rangers fans outnumber ‘Stros fans Sunday evening.

Speaking of, the Rangers take on the Padres for two tomorrow and Saturday at the Alamodome.

Check out the story here.

Rangers/Padres in the Alamodome is certainly more interesting than the ‘Stros/Cubbies at The Yard this weekend. 

 

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Or does it? Some folks are stirred up because Nike has an ad with Tiger Woods that says winning takes care of everything.  Here is from an AP story:

But some say it’s inappropriate in light of Woods’ past marital woes.

And:

Others responded on Twitter. Annie Kessler, 25, in Columbus, Ohio, tweeted that the ad was a "poor choice" for Nike. She said in an interview that she felt compelled to tweet because even though she understands why Nike would want to promote Woods, the phrase itself is inappropriate because of Woods’ past infidelity.

All I can say is that it’s his “past infidelity” and not mine and not yours.

Here is the AP piece on the ad.

Whew!  It is now OK to hang around The Dean.

Last season was the first where attendance dropped below 2 million at Minute Maid Park – 1,607,733.  When was the last time at the Dome we had less than 2 million for a season?

H-Town CM James Rodriguez put this out yesterday:

Greetings!

For the past several years, I have worked closely with many of you to address issues facing our communities throughout District I.  I have requested your input on important matters and policy proposals that would impact your neighborhoods.  Today, I want to share a proposal that is on this week’s City Council Agenda to repeal Section 39-2 of the Code of Ordinances, relating to disturbing or removing contents of garbage containers (commonly referred to as dumpster diving).

I currently have reservations about this proposal, which I believe has been expedited in a fashion that has failed to inform our community and go through the appropriate channels.  It is my opinion that this issue merits special consideration and should be referred to a Council Committee to allow public comment prior to being considered by the City Council.

This proposal is listed as Agenda Item #9 on this week’s Council Agenda.  Click here to view the Agenda. Scroll past the agenda to review the Request for Council Action (RCA) for Agenda Item #9.

Please note that I intend to delay the vote on this item for a week to allow District I residents to provide input.  If interested in addressing City Council on this item, you may do so at City Council Public Session by signing up with the City Secretary, 832.393.1100.

City Council Public Session

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2:00pm

City Hall, Council Chambers

901 Babgy, 2nd Floor

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Here is a Chron story on the dumpster diving issue.

The team still reads Commentary.  It looks like Dierk and the ‘Stros made up.  Here is from the Chron:

After an hour-long meeting with Astros owner Jim Crane on Tuesday, former Astros pitcher, broadcaster and manager Larry Dierker said “everything is fine” between him and the team’s owner.

Here is the story.

The most annoying fella in MLB is the Commissioner.  Commentary has not wasted a lot of energy talking about the move to the AL because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.  The Commissioner is now explaining why it was done and it doesn’t make sense.  The story is only available to subscribers.  Here is part of what he said:

(Bud) Selig said the primary reason for the Astros’ AL relocation came down to simple geography. With St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, the Astros were the odd team out. According to the commissioner, the Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers and Reds have "tremendous" rivalries. The Astros did not, he said, because of their isolation.

"The teams left in the National League Central all had a geographical (base) – there was a relationship. Houston was sitting down there; there was no relationship," said Selig, who stressed he made the decision in the best long-term interests of baseball. "And I understand they’ve been in the National League for a long time, and I’m sympathetic to that. But we had to move a team, and … the fact of the matter is when you looked at all the other things that could happen, the only logical thing was for Houston to move. … I didn’t have an alternative."

You bet!  I’m trying to figure out the rivalries the Bucs, Reds and Brewers have.  Shut up, Bud!

In 1996 at the Dome of course the club drew 1,975,888 for the season.

If you want to go to Opening Day this Sunday at The Yard and willing to fork over a little extra, it shouldn’t be a problem.  As of yesterday there were 3,298 tickets available on Stub Hub.

 

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Commentary is not going to be spending a whole lot of time talking about 2016 right now and I’m certainly not going to spend a lot of time talking about Guv Dude running in 2016 because I don’t do fantasy politics.   Burkablog says this:

We’ve been through this before, so permit me to ask the question: Can anyone make the case that Rick Perry has a realistic shot at the Republican nomination for president? Okay, the National Journal did (sort of), but I can’t. The race for the 2016 nomination will take place in two brackets. Call one the establishment bracket, which includes Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Bob McDonnell. The other bracket is the tea party bracket, where the contenders include Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and, yes, Ted Cruz. This is the bracket where Perry would compete, but he has no chance to win it. Rubio, Paul, and Cruz all have substantial followings; Perry does not.

Dude is definitely not a bracket buster.

Everybody knows that B-G-O’s last Opening Day start was in 2007.  Name the Opening Day starter at second base for the ‘Stros in 2008?

Lately there have been a few articles, posts, and takes about Texas turning blue or purple and when it is going to happen.  Some of the chatter involves the growing Latino vote.  MariGirl made an interesting observation yesterday that got me to thinking.   She said that if serious immigration reform is enacted with the help of the GOP some Latino voters might start looking favorably again at the GOP. 

I have said in the past that immigration is a filter issue for many Latino voters.  We won’t listen to you on other stuff if you can’t handle immigration.  If the immigration filter is removed then who knows what might happen.  Immigration reform is getting a ton of press coverage these days.  Last week Sen. Rand Paul came out for a pathway to citizenship.  The growing Latino vote is the reason immigration reform is on the front burner and the Latino voter is paying attention to what is going on.

I kind of have to agree with MariGirl.  MariGirl was at the forefront the last couple of years on The DREAM Act debate so she knows what is going on.  If the GOP helps deliver immigration reform turning Texas purple or blue may take a little longer.  If they don’t, the 71% Latino vote for Dems may grow.  Stay tuned!!

Congrats to Tiger!

Mark Loretta of course started at second base for the ‘Stros on Opening Day in 2008 – Mark who?

The team is finalizing the Opening Day roster.

 

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Larry Dierker will no longer be with the club and that’s too bad.  The club has every right to pick and choose who they want in the announcers’ booth, on the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse, and in the front office. 

Dierk had a few choice things to tell the Chron about his decision not to stick around:

"There is a certain amount of bitterness. You invest 48 years in a market, and you see everything being destroyed and you can’t do anything about it."

This is how he described management’s approach:

"cold, calculating and humorless."

This is how team CEO George Postolos responded:

"We raised Larry’s salary in 2012, and we offered to raise him again in 2013 and expand his role to include pre- and postgame analysis on CSN. He wanted a different job, but we determined he was not the right fit for the job he wanted. That made him unhappy.

"Larry was complimentary of the direction of the franchise until he didn’t get the job he wanted. His remarks today are sour grapes. We regret his bitterness but still wish him well."

George’s remarks were totally unnecessary.  George should have kept his piehole shut.  In case you haven’t notice, George, Dierk’s numero 49 is hanging up there above the right field bleachers alongside the likes of B-G-O, Baggy, Cruuuuuuuz, Nolan, and Jackie Robinson.  He’s also taken us to the playoffs and pitched in a ton of games.  He owns the club pitching record for most seasons pitched, most starts, most complete games, most shutouts, and most innings pitches.  There are a whole lot of ‘Stros fans that think highly of and respect Dierk.  I’m one of them!

Back in 2007 when the team wasn’t doing so hot, there was pregame ceremony honoring Baggy and then GM Tim Purpura was introduced and he was booed by the fans.  I’m thinking if George is introduced anytime soon at a pregame ceremony, he’d probably get booed.

A lot of us ticket holders are trying to be patient with the team moves and the very low payroll that has many baseball experts predicting another 100 plus loss season.  Don’t disrespect us by disrespecting one of the most popular Astros of all time.

Speaking of, how many shutouts did Dierk pitch as a ‘Stro?

MLB returns to The Yard Friday evening as we host the Cubbies.  Welcome back to H-Town JD!

Today’s header is correct – we are opening weak and it doesn’t have to be that way.  Yesterday’s Chron sports section has a half page ad selling tickets to Opening Day – Opening Day?  They should already be sold out.  It should be SRO by now.

Super Agent Scott Boras is piling on the ‘Stros.  Here is from Chron.com:

Scott Boras picked up where Peter Gammons and other national baseball writers left off.

The super-agent for MLB stars such as Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano and Michael Bourn told USA Today the Astros are intentionally trying to lose in an effort to draft as high as possible and have the largest available financial pool.

In an article about in-limbo free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse, Boras linked the rebuilding Astros — whose payroll could be below $25 million on opening day — with the stripped-down Miami Marlins.

“The integrity of the game has been compromised,” Boras said. “What baseball has done, it has created a dynamic where draft dollars are affecting the major leaguers. Teams are constructing clubs to be non-competitive, like Houston and Miami, so they can position themselves where they can get more draft dollars. Clubs are trying to finish last to create more draft dollars. And this dramatically affects the wild-card and major-league standings.”

He added: “The integrity of the game is very damaged by this system. Draft dollars is the latest currency for GMs. And the best way to earn draft dollars is to sabotage your major-league team and finish last.”

The Astros lost 213 combined games the last two years. The club had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft and will again select first this season.

Let’s see, J.D. Martinez who is on the ticket for this Saturday’s game versus the Cubbies has been sent to our Triple A club. 

Our starting shortstop may be Ronny Cedeno.  Check this:

Cedeno, 30, was recently released by St. Louis. He’s a career .247 hitter with a .647 on-base plus slugging percentage. Cedeno has never hit more than 10 home runs in a season, isn’t a defensive standout and has only once recorded more than 500 at-bats.

Oh, well!  Can it get any worse?  We’re not building a roster. We’re just putting folks in uniforms.

Dierk has the club record with 25 ‘Stro shutouts of course.

My Brown Eye Girl reminded me the other day that all my ‘Stros gear is now retro.  I don’t have any of the new gear.

 

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Here is from an article that says new polling shows rank and file GOPers support a path to citizenship:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans favor giving undocumented immigrants in the country an opportunity for legal status with a path to citizenship, according to a poll published Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Support for an earned path to citizenship for those immigrants came from 71 percent of Democrats and also a majority, 53 percent, of Republicans, the poll found.

The option that drew the least support in the poll was legal residency for undocumented immigrants with no path to citizenship; only 14 percent of Americans favored that approach.

Here is the article.

The GOP leadership needs to step up on this.  I doubt we will see any leaders from Texas step up.  Stay tuned!

Yesterday Commentary mentioned the last regular season MLB game held at the Dome on Sunday, October 3, 1999 versus the Dodgers.  Name the starting pitcher for the ‘Stros that afternoon?

The debate on the Dome is heating up a bit.  Here is from the Chron today:

Harris County officials on Thursday disputed an estimate released this week showing it would cost $29 million to implode the vacant Reliant Astrodome and build a 1,600-space parking lot in two and a half years.

The figure, calculated by local firms Linbeck Construction and Walter P. Moore and Associates after a three-month study commissioned by the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, is less than half the estimated price tag released last year by consultants hired by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., the county agency that runs Reliant Park.

And:

Linbeck Vice President John Go said the firms stand by the findings of the study and the price tag.

"The Houston Texans and the Rodeo asked us to develop a methodology and a report that will stand up against questions because they knew that someone might question it," Go said, noting that Walter P. Moore was the structural engineer when the stadium was built in the mid-1960s and again when it was expanded in 1989.

Go said they consulted more than a half dozen local companies and specialty subcontractors, including for asbestos removal, demolition and filling the more than 30-foot-deep hole that would be left after razing the structure.

The County sent out my friend Edgar Colon to challenge the Rodeo and Texans.  Here is from the Houston Press:

But on Thursday afternoon Harris County Sports Convention Corporation chairman Edgar Colon said that the Dome wasn’t the only thing hindering a bowl bid.

What those other things were he didn’t specify. What could that be? A hulking mass of steel and concrete smack in the middle of the complex isn’t the only thing?

Speaking amongst dusty left field-line seats, he took questions about the $29 million figure, which he seemed to have pushed up to $40 million during the press conference, confusing most of us.

Here is the entire Press piece.

It looks like the Texans and Rodeo are stepping things up. Good for them and for us.  I have nothing but respect for Edgar and sending him out was a good first step, but if the county wants to resist for now, Edgar is going to need some help.  He can’t do it alone.

Edgar mentions that something else may be hindering a bowl bid.  He needs to let us know what it is. 

I like where this is heading. I’m still waiting to see if any elected officials side up with the Rodeo and Texans.  In a Rodeo/Texans versus the County match-up, I’ll bet on the Rodeo/Texans. 

Mike Hampton of course started the last regular season game for the ‘Stros at the Dome back in 1999.

The Skipper announced that Brett Wallace would bat second against righties for now. 

 

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The last couple of days some folks in these parts have been debating what to do with the Dome.  The Rodeo and Texans have all but endorsed tearing it down when they released a report a couple of days ago on demolition costs.   Heck, the old Oilers endorsed tearing it down back in 1996 when they split town.  When we passed the referendum to build The Yard in 1996 and the authority to build Reliant what did we think was going to happen with the Dome? 

Now the NFL Commissioner is either dangling a carrot in front of us or holding a gun to our head by saying that we could get Super Bowl 51 if we add another 2,500 parking spaces.  Do the deal!  Here is from Chron.com:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t want to get involved in the controversy involving the Astrodome, but he does think an additional 2,500 parking spaces would help Houston’s bid to get Super Bowl LI.

At his last news conference to close the NFL meetings, Goodell was asked about the most recent study commissioned by Texans owner Bob McNair and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Results that were disclosed Tuesday show the Astrodome could be demolished and replaced with 2,500 parking spaces for $29 million and change.

“That issue is for the community to decide, but I think having an extra 2,500 parking spaces would enhance Houston’s bid,” Goodell said.

Houston is a finalist for Super Bowl LI to be played in 2017. The competition will be San Francisco or South Florida, the loser of the bid to get Super Bowl L.

I don’t think a single elected official in the H-Town area has come out in support of tearing the Dome down.   Hunker Down and others continue to wring their mitts.  I really don’t think an elected official jeopardizes their chances of reelection by joining forces with the Rodeo, Texans, Commissioner Goodell, and Commentary.  I don’t think your campaign money evaporates if you support Dome demolition.

I’ll make a deal.  If an elected official comes out and takes a leadership role in support of Dome demolition, I’ll nominate them for one of those “Profiles in Courage Awards” that are handed out by the Kennedy Library.  Stay tuned!

Speaking of the Dome, everyone knows that our last regular season game was played on Sunday, October 3, 1999 against the Dodgers and the ‘Stros won 9-4 and there was only one dinger smacked.  Name the player to hit the last regular season dinger ever at the Dome? 

Marfreless is closing – aww!  I think I went there once over 20 years ago just to see what was happening there.  It was too dark to see anything but you could hear stuff if you know what I mean.

Check out the Chron story here.

Don’t worry.  It is looking for another location!

My tickets arrived yesterday and the only players featured are Jose Altuve, Lucas Harrell, and J.D. Martinez.  It is interesting that they featured Martinez since we still don’t know if he will be a starter on Opening Day.  Also included are my program coupons, a couple of coupons to Whataburger, a xfinity promo, a discount to a jeweler, promo from an energy company, promo for a credit card, and a schedule.

In reviewing the schedule the most brutal home stand is in May when we host the Tigers for four and the Angels and Rangers for three each.  The most brutal roadie appears to be in April when we visit Fenway for three then to Yankee Stadium for three.  Along with the four games with the Tigers, we have four game homies with the White Sox in June, Rays in July, Rangers in August, and Mariners in August/September.

The first NL club we face on the road are the Bucs in May.  The first NL club we host are the Rockies on Memorial Day.   We close out the season at home against the Yankees.  Oh yeah, the slogan this year looks like “It’s A Whole New Ballgame” since we’re now in the DH business full time.

Ken Caminiti of course had a solo blast in the bottom of the third back in 1999 – the last dinger ever hit in the regular season at the Dome.

Bud Norris will be the Opening Day starting pitcher and he’s not on a ticket. 

 

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