Archive for April 6th, 2015

Later on this afternoon, Bethany and I will be at Opening Day. I think this will make our ninth straight Opening Day together. It is our tradition. It is our thing.

It will be standing room only. It will be the place to be.

I dropped by The Yard Saturday afternoon to check out the exhibition game against the Royals and it looks like the prices are up again – at least for St. Arnold, hot dogs, chicken tenders (Dante’s favorite), and fitted lids. The waffle cones stuffed with mash potatoes and chicken will set you back $9.

I am ready for some baseball. The team added some experienced arms to the bullpen including a sidewinder. Jed Lowie hopefully is an improvement at shortstop. Same for Luis Valbuena at third. The team thinks a lot of Evan Gattis in left field. Same for Colby Rasmus in center field. If George Springer stays healthy and if Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, and our starting pitchers play like they did last year, things could get interesting.

Still, we are in the AL West, arguably the best division in baseball, so it is going to be tough. I have to say though that I am cautiously optimistic.

Oh yeah, we face Cleveland and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.

Name the ‘Stros player with the most Opening Day starts at catcher?

Fifty years ago this week, the Astrodome opened. This Thursday evening, Hunker Down is hosting a birthday party for the Dome out at the Dome.

Yesterday, Lisa Falkenberg weighed in and gave her two cents on the Dome. Here are parts:

Like (County Judge Ed) Emmett, I don’t come at this from the emotional point of view. I’m one of those 30-something Houstonians who has never stepped foot in that big metal dwarf planet on South Main Street. I have no memories of Mickey Mantle’s first hit, or the outrageously glitzy scoreboard, or the world’s first sky boxes.

But there’s no Houstonian who went to the rodeo this year and glanced up at that 1 million square-foot elephant in the room, and felt proud. I’d venture to say most felt embarrassed, both by our indecisiveness and by our failure to honor history.

And it’s quite a history. The Astrodome itself is a fascinating tale, complete with potentially catastrophic failures for which (Judge Roy) Hofheinz and his team of architects, physicists, agronomists and others always seemed to fashion solutions, not always of the high-tech kind, as architect James Gast writes in his 2014 book, “The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle.”

Construction exceeding the voter-approved $15 million? Hold another bond referendum. Glare of glass ceiling blinding ball players? Paint it white, two coats! Paint blocking sun and killing grass? Paint the brown grass green, then later, put in the Astroturf!

And decades later: Thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees fleeing flooding and mayhem in New Orleans? Open the Astrodome as a shelter.

Somewhere along the way, we let this legendary example of creative problem-solving become, well, a problem. That shouldn’t be the last chapter for a structure that Hofheinz once likened to Houston’s Eiffel Tower.

“Like the space program,” Gast writes, “the Astrodome came to be because a group of Americans decided it should, and then just went ahead and did it.”

This week, for one night only, on April 9, the county will open the Astrodome to the public. Those who have memories there can stand on the ground floor reliving them while gazing up at the architectural marvel that helped make modern Houston.

The rest of us can go to. And I intend to be there, mouth agape, staring up at the face of audacity. And hoping we can still meet her gaze.

Here is the entire Falkenberg take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Falkenberg-Let-s-face-the-Astrodome-s-future-6179456.php.

I am not as hard line on the Dome these days. But they have to have a plan and they have to sell it.

You won’t get Blue Bell at The Yard tonight. Check out these tweets from Saturday:

Texas Monthly retweeted
The Texanist ‏@thetexanist 28m28 minutes ago
Oh, nooooooo! RT @startelegram: “Texas grocery chain H-E-B pulls all Blue Bell products http://qa1.star-telegram.com/living/health-fitness/article1774395.html … …”

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 21m21 minutes ago
Well. This is serious. Astros will not serve Blue Bell ice cream at Minute Maid Park on Opening Day

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 19m19 minutes ago
Astros biz ops prez Reid Ryan: “The health and safety of our fans is always our top priority. We have a lot of fantastic food options …

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 5m5 minutes ago
Reid Ryan cont: … for fans to enjoy at Minute Maid Park–as a precautionary measure, we will not offer Blue Bell ice cream on Opening Day.

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 5m5 minutes ago
More Ryan: “We continue to support Blue Bell as they proactively address any safety concerns & we look forward to having …

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 4m4 minutes ago
More Reid Ryan: this Texas tradition back in the ball park soon.” End Astros statement.

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 2m2 minutes ago
FWIW, Astros were dishing out the Blue Bell on Wednesday during the club level open house. Milk and Cookies tasted fine to me.

David Barron ‏@dfbarron 6s6 seconds ago
This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper — and no Blue Bell at the ballpark. The horror. The horror.

Well, let’s at least serve Blue Bell in the Visitors Clubhouse before the game.

I checked out NBC’s “American Odyssey” last night and I am hooked.

Brad Ausmus of course started nine games behind the plate for the ‘Stros on Opening Day.

Let’s Play Ball!

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