Tonight will feature the first World Series game ever played in the state of Texas, and what is Major League Baseball talking about? Whether or not the Astros must open the roof on Minute Maid Park.
Major League Baseball officials say they, and not the Astros, will have final word on whether the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park will be open for tonight's Game 3 against the Chicago White Sox.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Monday the league will have control of the roof and prefers keep it open, weather permitting. Forecasters are predicting clear skies and 62 degrees at first pitch, with temperatures falling into the mid-50s during the game.
"MLB controls the postseason, certainly the World Series," Selig said. "We really haven't gotten heavily involved in the debate. Our position is that we want teams to do what they do during the regular season.
"If, say, 80 degrees is the cutoff during the regular season, that's what it should be in the postseason. I don't want it to become a farce. Let's say it's 72 degrees. Why wouldn't the roof be open? Why do you have a retractable roof in the first place?"
Rob Matwick, the Astros' senior vice president for ballpark operations and customer service, said the top concerns during the regular season are the threat of precipitation and the temperature.
"The No. 1 decision-maker probably ends up being the chance of rain in the summer," he said. "If the rain chance is 60, 70 percent, we'll err on the side of caution and stay closed. From there, heat and humidity and the heat index-type numbers are the criteria we would look at."
Matwick said the typical rule of thumb during the summer is the roof will be closed if the temperature is 85 degrees or above at scheduled first pitch for a night game.
"Our only experience with cold is during the College Classic (a baseball tournament in February), and we've played Classic games in the bright sunshine and roof closed just because it's too cold," Matwick said.
Meanwhile, the Chron recalls the referendum that led to the construction of
EnronMinute Maid. I supported this at the time, based mostly on a belief in the economic power of new stadia which I now know to be almost completely false. I do think there was and is value in building this stadium, and I agree with Mayorbob Lanier when he says that there'd be a lot fewer opponents of its construction, at least if you were to do a poll right this very minute. That said, I couldn't recommend these deals with a straight face any more. Maybe a partial public funding arrangement - it would depend on who pays how much and what the public got back out of it - but on the whole this wasn't worth it.
I did get a chuckle out of local gadfly/stadium opponent Barry Klein's demonstration of how not to win hearts and minds:
[I]sn't he excited that the Astros are in the World Series?
"I'm entirely ambivalent," Klein said.
"I'm pleased when the team is doing well, but I'm content when they lose because I know the local establishment is gloating, and I'd prefer they not be in that mood."
Finally, the Orange Show notes that the traditional intra-city bet on the Series outcome has a distinctly Houston twist to it this year. From a press release I received:
As Mayor White continues his tireless work to keep Houston moving, he is including an official entry in Everyones Art Car Parade, the world's largest and oldest Art Car Parade, in the traditional bet between the two cities participating in the World Series. Mayor Daley bet some of Chicago's signature items such as hot dogs and a giant cheesecake. Mayor White is offering an experience that no other city can offer - an official entry in the city's proud display of mobile works of art produced by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Everyones Art Car Parade!
The Houston Astros play the first ever World Series game in Texas on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2005. A grand collection of Art Cars will drive around Minute Maid Park beginning at 4 pm to celebrate this historic occasion.
"While we are always rooting for more entries in the world's largest and oldest Art Car parade, this is one entry we are rooting against with all of our collective might," said Susanne Theis, Executive Director of the Orange Show Center for Visionary. "We're confident that the Astros will win the World Series and ensure that Chicago does not have an official entry in Everyones Art Car Parade. Houstonians will be overjoyed to see Art Cars welcome the World Series to Texas and even more excited to see a Houston Astros World Series Champions Art Car rolling in the parade on Saturday, May 13, 2006!" added parade director Kim Stoilis.
Many Houstonians remember the playoff wager that involved David Letterman and then Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire during the 1986 playoffs against the New York Mets. The Astros lost the hard fought series forcing Kathy Whitmire to display a giant photo of Mets leftfielder Mookie Wilson in her office for an entire year.