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Would you like that roof open or closed?

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?”

Because it’s their stadium and they have the final say over it for every other game, including games in the first two postseason rounds, which MLB supposedly controls? Because the Astros are 36-17 with the roof closed but only 15-11 with it open, and when you’re down 0-2 you need all the home-field advantage you can get? Because they may possibly know more about what their fans would want than you would? I’m just saying.

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.

For what it’s worth, I attended a College Classic game a couple of years back, on a night that dipped into the low 50s or maybe high 40s. Since the day had started out as sunny and warm as today’s is now, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to bringing sufficiently warm clothing for the game that night, and as a result I was not as comfortable as I would have liked. Any fans who are going straight to the game after work and who didn’t think to bring their sweaters will regret it. Maybe that would be their fault for not thinking ahead, but especially if they assumed the roof would be closed as it usually is it would also be a shame.

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.”

Boy, that’ll sure get the masses flocking to your side.

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.

Mookie Wilson! Man, I’d forgotten about that bet. Bet that pic would be worth a few bucks on eBay now.

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6 Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    Okay if MLB steps in now and I’m the Braves or the Cardinals, I’m pissed. Where was the Commish’s office when in each of the first 2 playoff series not only was the roof closed but FOX WAS MENTIONING THE ASTROS DESIRE TO MAXIMIZE THE NOISE DURING EVERY BRQAODCAST!?!

    If MLB really wants the Astros to do like they do it in the regular season, the roof will be closed. The Astros close their roof when they want to in the regular season.

    But if Bud wants some sort of weather related roof parameters give them this one:

    “The retractable roof at Minute Maid Park will be closed if there is a forecast of rain or other inclement weather or the temperature is forecat to rise above 80 degrees or fall below 60 degrees.

    There Bud, that’ how we do it in the regular season and since it’s forecast to be around 50 degrees tonight you’ll excuse us while we shut the roof. It’s getting a bit drafty.

  2. Pete says:

    I (obviously) don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I was under the impression that MLB has the final say. The Astros want the roof closed for noise reasons, but Selig hasn’t really presented a very coherent reason for why it should stay open.

    Having said that: what is the purpose of the retractable roof? If your winning percentage is that much better when its closed, they’re never going to open it, meaning it was a waste of money.

    As for tonight, 42,000 bodies tends to warm a place up, and there’s hardly any wind.

  3. Um, how was this issue not resolved in 2001 with the Diamondbacks? Did they just never leave the closed-roof boundaries for temperature?

  4. Tim says:

    If it drops into the 50s tonight, I say we put Bud Selig in the stands — not in a climate-controlled luxury box — in his shirt sleeves.

    As for Mookie Wilson, yeah, but better Houston than Boston. Imagine a Bostonian putting up a Mookie Wilson photo for a year, after Mookie hit the ball that went through Buckner’s legs!

  5. Mathwiz says:

    … the Astros are 36-17 with the roof closed but only 15-11 with it open….

    If your winning percentage is that much better when its closed….

    Beware, statistics novices! If closing the roof makes no difference at all, the expected records would be 34-19 or 35-18 with it closed, and 17-9 or 16-10 with it open; only a game or two away from the actual statistics.

    In fact, a chi-square test gives a probability > 37% that the “benefit” of closing the roof is merely a coincidence.

    Maybe statistics over more than one season would show a more significant difference, but I’m skeptical.

  6. polly Brechtbill says:

    I think the roof is the greatest idea you have ever had in the old stadium u got soaked before they would move another place under the roof and if the was postponed you would have to come back , now you do not have too and that is great the weather would only corperate is great thing to see the sun or the stars and watch baseball.