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The Mets Say Goodbye to Houston



By Mike Silva ~ May 2nd, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

The Astros are moving to the American League at the end of the year so this afternoon is the last time the Mets play in Houston, unless they have a rare interleague series.

Houston has never been kind to them throughout their history. As Gary Cohen mentioned during last night’s game, the Mets have a losing record all-time in the three parks the Astros/Colt 45′s have called home: Colt Stadium, the Astrodome and Eron/Minute Maid Field.

There have, however, been some unique memories during Houston visits in team history.

Who could forget how four Mets were arrested here, including current SNY broadcaster Ron Darling, during the ’86 season? They would win the pennant in the Astrodome during that wild 16-inning Game 6. There was also Edgardo Alfonzo’s 6-hit performance in 1999 and the 17-inning marathon in 2007 that saw Carlos Beltran make a great catch on Tal’s Hill in center. Beltran would drive in the winning runs in a 6-3 Mets victory.

Courtesy of Bob Levey Photography

In case you forgot, here is a grainy home video of it.

***

Minute Maid/Eron has always been one of the quirkiest stadiums around with its short left field porch know as the Crawford Boxes. The distance from home plate is only 315 feet and there is the 19-foot wall.

A far cry from the spacious Astrodome.

Here is also a video about the opening of the old Astrodome. Do you know who the first Astros opponent was? The Yankees. Although the Mets are saying goodbye to yearly trips to Houston, their cross-town rivals will now be visiting Minute Maid Park once a season starting in 2013.  I guess you could say it’s the end of an era on one hand and the beginning of one on another.

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In case you are wondering, the Astrodome is still around, but there has been a battle over what to do with the structure. The cost of demolition has been to prohibitive to the City, so a

Houston architect Imad Abdullah presented a recent plan to save the Astrodome by redesigning it into a smaller building, lowering the dome 75 feet using the same techniques when it was built 47-years ago.

Over the 12 years since the Astros left the Dome has fallen into disrepair and is no longer meeting code. The Dallas News wrote this piece in 2010 about the issues with the old building and the politics behind it.

***

Do you have any Houston memories of the Mets playing in Colt Stadium, the Dome or the recent corporate sponsored ballpark?

***

The sabermetricians in the audience would probably be happy to know the Astros put the statistic “Run Expectancy” (RE) on the scoreboard last night. This was reported on Twitter by Mike Fast, former Baseball Prospectus writer and now Astros statistical analyst.

Run Expectancy estimates how many runs an average team is likely to score in a given base-out situation. I doubt anymore than 1% of the fans at the game knew what is, cared or could have calculated the formula.

There have been some great advances from the sabermetric community over the years. Some have interested me and I have found useful, but none involve predicting runs or wins; I just don’t see any practical use for it. I doubt the fans at Minute Maid Park have for the most part, either. That was more “fun with numbers” for the Astros front office.

Unless, of course, this is a stat they use for their fantasy baseball team.

Sigh… I just don’t get the obsession with shoving this stuff down fans throats. It’s just not mainstream enough for the average fan to care. It also doesn’t enhance any enjoyment or understanding of the game on the field. Baseball is about the experience at the ballpark, not watching some linear weights on a scoreboard.

When Jim Crane purchased the team, one of his goals was to put together a more modern front office. He hired Jeff Luhnow from the Cardinals to head up one of the most sabermetric-enforced front offices in all of baseball. It appears with the addition of RE to the scoreboard they are pushing the ideology to the mainstream.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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9 Responses to The Mets Say Goodbye to Houston

  1. Stu B

    There wasn’t much to see of Beltran in the first video, and if you were very observant, you would recognize Gil Hodges as the Senators’ manager in the second one, in the part about LBJ throwing out the first pitch of the ’65 season in DC.

    And don’t forget that the Astros’ move givese each league 15 teams, which means that interleague play will be much more common – at least 1 game every day of the season. I’m not sure of the logistics, but that could mean that the Mets and Astros will still meet at least once a year.

  2. Brien@IIATMS

    “There have been some great advances from the sabermetric community over the years. Some have interested me and I have found useful, but none involve predicting runs or wins; I just don’t see any practical use for it.”

    Really? You don’t see how knowing the likelihood of scoring one run, or how many runs the average team has scored after a given situation over the course of millions and millions of innings, has practical usage for, say, deciding whether it makes sense to bunt?

    Alright then.

  3. Mike Silva

    Brien

    I meant that in context of the fan enjoyment of the game. A large majority of fans (very large IMO) are not trying to play “GM” at the game.

    They want a night out and to be entertained by the action, or whatever shopping mall attractions are in the park.

    Good try by Houston but that sounds like the front office is doing things they would enjoy at the game, not the masses. First mistake any company can make is believing they exist for themselves or push an agenda

    As for managing by RE, it’s a sure way to get fired very quickly. RE doesn’t take into account the flow of the game and intangible external factors

  4. Brien@IIATMS

    “Good try by Houston but that sounds like the front office is doing things they would enjoy at the game, not the masses. First mistake any company can make is believing they exist for themselves or push an agenda ”

    Well, okay, but that seems rather silly. After all, the fan value here is *very* asymmetric, as the fans who like it will appreciate it while those who don’t will most likely not pay any attention to it and not care beyond that.

    “As for managing by RE, it’s a sure way to get fired very quickly. RE doesn’t take into account the flow of the game and intangible external factors”

    Well, no, but nothing really can (and it seems to me that I hear “flow of the game” most often when Joe Girardi’s trying to justify some stupid decision he made because he doesn’t think the Yankees will score very many runs against James Shields). Flow of the game is what it is (until someone hits a home run or something and completely alters the game) and the charts assume an average hitter and an average offense. Like anything else you have to apply a certain amount of critical decision making to the matter but, by and large, the chart does tell you what decisions are incredibly stupid (bunting good base stealers to 2nd base, for example, or really just bunting runners to 2nd base at all unless you have a particularly weak hitter at the plate). Beyond that, I’d also note that people implicitly use run expectancy all the time anyway, which is why you aren’t likely to see anyone ordered to sacrifice a runner to 3rd base with one out.

  5. Chuck Johnson

    LOL..stop it Brien..you’re killing me…LOL…seriously, dude.

    First it’s park factors, then xFIP, now Win Expectancy.

    You know the real identity of Ken Tremendous, right?

    He started his Hollywood satire/comedy writing career on the internet, writing comedy and satire.

    You’re like the second coming.

    To get this much entertainment for free should be illegal.

  6. Chuck Johnson

    In the history of their respective franchises, who has the all time best record?

    If you guessed the Mets..you would be wrong.

    Guaranteed to keep you drinking free all night in any bar within 100 miles of CitiField.

  7. Mike Silva

    The Mets historically have struggled against Houston, especially in Houston, so the fact they have a losing record against them doesn’t surprise me.

  8. Brien@IIATMS

    “First it’s park factors, then xFIP, now Win Expectancy.”

    A couple of observations:

    1. I don’t really remember discussing park factors recently, but I also don’t understand what they would have to do anything. Are you trying to imply that the notion that different parks have different dimensions and other physical traits and play differently as a result is misguided or something, because that would be…weird.

    2. Actually, we’re talking run expectancy, which is quite a bit different than win expectancy, though I can understand that the incredibly simple concept of both would nonetheless be very difficult to you. Why don’t you just stick to telling commenters at prospect websites how smart you are, and leave the middle school level probability to the rest of us?

  9. Chuck Johnson

    “leave the middle school level probability to the rest of us?”

    Sure.

    Have fun at recess.

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