These players were good enough to get the Angels to 70 wins in their inaugural season and 86 victories in their second. The Mets would not be so lucky. By pushing the expansion draft date forward by two months, National League owners made a repeat of the damage done by the Angels in the first expansion draft impossible. With the earlier expansion draft date, the list of players available to the Mets and fellow expansion franchise Houston Colt .45s included none of the hot young talents that made the Angels early success possible. Instead, the new franchises were picking from the ranks of aging veterans, utility players and swingmen who would have certainly been released to make room for protected minor leaguers come December.
On Oct. 10, 1961, after Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and the Yankees polished off the Reds in a tidy five-game World Series victory, the Mets and Colt .45s filled out their rosters for the 1962 season. Both teams were required to select 16 players at a price of $75,000 each and four “premium players” at $125,000 each. Among the “premium players” were Colt .45s selection Joe Amalfitano, a 28-year-old third baseman with a .263/.330/.333 line and three home runs in 260 games played for the Giants; Don Zimmer, then a 31-year-old utility infielder with a .238/.291/.378 career line in 697 games between the Dodgers and Cubs (and an inexplicable All-Star Game appearance in 1960 behind a .252/.291/.403 batting line); and 25-year-old pitcher Jay Hook, who had posted a 5.23 ERA in 56 starts for Cincinnati and allowed a league-high 31 home runs for the Reds in 1960.
[Preston]Tucker didn’t mind any of it after coming through with a game-tying single in the ninth inning for his first Major League hit as the Astros rallied for three runs against Angels closer Huston Street to win, 3-2, on Thursday night at Angel Stadium…Tucker, a left-handed hitter, was called up to the big leagues late Wednesday to replace George Springer, who went on the disabled list with a concussion.. A seventh-round pick by the Astros in 2012, Tucker was leading the Minor Leagues in home runs (10) and RBIs (32), hitting .320 in 25 games.
Former Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo (2003-2006) has been charged in court with kidnapping, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Lugo last professionally played baseball for los Leones del Escogido, and last played stateside for the Braves in 2011.
Lugo’s arrest warrant was issued in the cities of La Romana and Santo Domingo for kidnapping and the posession of fire arms. According to the paper, Lugo and four men held their hostage and his girlfriend at gunpoint, demanding money that had allegedly been invested in a business venture.
A rough translation of the article includes how Lugo had, “always been willing to talk about it, assuring him that the money invested in the company, as well as that of other investors, was sure.”
How and why they became “Astros” requires some explanation.
In a nutshell, the name change was precipitated by a licensing dispute between the ballclub and the Colt Firearms Company.
An AP story from October 21, 1964 stated that:
“It was understood that the Colt Firearms Co. has no objection to the baseball club using its name, but is objecting to the baseball club sub-licensing to manufacturers the right to use the name on novelties and souvenirs sold at baseball parks.”
The team announced that it would be something other than “Colts” on October 1, 1964.
The clock was now ticking on a completely new identity — a new name, new uniforms, and a new logo.
Team owner Judge Roy Hofheinz went on record as favoring “Stars,” a reference to Houston’s expanding role in the space program. The public did not react well, the thought being that “Stars” was a pretentious moniker for a ninth-place ballclub.
The judge and the team had something very big to sell, and they needed to start selling it. The Harris County Domed Stadium — soon to be known as the Astrodome — was built with what was described as “one-third of a mile of private clubs,” renting for $75,000 to $90,000 a pop, with a five-year minimum commitment.
On Dec. 1, 1964, Hofheinz announced that the Colt .45s would henceforth be known as the Astros and that the stadium would be called the Astrodome.
The Houston Astros understand that sweet and salty, like Biggio and Bagwell, are one of the best combinations of all time. That’s why they’ve decided to take crazy to a new level with the Chicken & Waffle Cone. Your eyes do not deceive you. That’s chicken in a waffle cone, served with mashed potatoes and a honey mustard sauce.
The replica ring is a staple ballpark giveaway these days, one that fans will line up hours to get. We’ve seen plenty of teams giving away recent World Series replica rings, even World Series replica rings from 50 years ago. But we’ve never seen a future World Series ring.
he report provides details on the following recommendations from the panel:
Recognize the Astrodome’s iconic status with a museum celebrating its history as the world’s first domed sports stadium and create a new vision that rehabilitates the dome and the surrounding portions of NRG Park.
Redevelop the Astrodome as a multi-use facility.
Develop 1,500 additional parking spaces in the lower levels of the Astrodome.
Create a new ground floor in the Astrodome interior that can accommodate a variety of uses, including a park.
Create a new outdoor public space of live oak allée as a promenade between the nearby light rail station and the east entrance to the Astrodome.
Construct permanent outdoor covered pavilions along the allée.
Enhance the outside of the Astrodome with hardscape and landscape features.
Reuse the various floors of the Astrodome for a variety of programmable space, such as new space to extend the game-day experience for Houston Texans fans, new spaces for the HLSR, and additional space for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC is another major user of NRG Park facilities).
Use the transformed space for activities such as community festivals, farmers markets, movie nights, charity events and private events that will generate new revenue streams.
Identify and tap new sources of capital and operational funds.
Create a new leadership initiative to unite vision with action.
[ Astros owner Roy ]Hofheinz told reporters that if the Astrodome had turned out to look “like a tobacco-spitting venture,” it would have failed; he said that no one who saw his stadium could ever again dismiss Houston as merely “Indian Territory.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram called the park “a glorious victory” for “all of Texas.”
With its Jetsons-like design, the Astrodome was a gargantuan symbol of the glittering possibilities of American technology, crowned by the biggest clear-span dome on earth (642 feet in diameter), with 4,596 Lucite skylights. (Hofheinz claimed he had decided on the general design while visiting Rome’s Colosseum, where the Emperor Vespasian had protected spectators from the sun with a movable shade.)
Maybe it’s not a good idea to sign minor leaguers to long-term contracts.
General manager Jeff Luhnow is invested in both youngsters; he signed Singleton to a five-year, $10 million contract last June, and acquired Marisnick from the Marlins last July 31 in the six-player Jarred Cosart trade. But the Astros, acting on a mandate from owner Jim Crane, also are trying to improve quickly, as evidenced by their active offseason and increase in payroll.
To that end, yes, of course, some teams invest more in analytical personnel, and some do a better job of integrating that into strategy, tactics, and method on the field or court. But try naming some and why, specifically, they’re successful. You’ll get as far as an accommodating owner or infrastructure, like the Mavericks or Rockets enjoy, or the efficiency of scale the Red Sox or New York Yankees can sometimes employ in turning small-market tactics loose with big-market ruthlessness (and margin for error), but not much further. There’s a reason for that: the actual work of transcoding data to usable intelligence involves the most closely-kept industry secrets in sports, to the point that, as I heard it from some of the private analytics crowd, multiple NBA teams were furious last year when Kirk Goldsberry and the Harvard group made public their models for parsing SportVU data in a useful way. As a rule, no one shows their work; no one shows proofs or models or submits to peer review that extends beyond the trade deadline. Yes, it’s probable that the Rockets really do have some great quants working in-house—who, like the best quants at your local Evil Finance Operation, are likely kept chained in a dark room being fed graphing paper so competitors never learn their names—but that probability rests in the team’s proven record of turning observation into philosophy into decisions into on-court success. The irony is that for all the complications added to sports organizations over the last several years, because of those complications and their secrecy, simple old wins are just about the only honest metric available to the public by which to judge whether or not a team’s analytics department has done a good job.
That doesn’t mean no one tries to prove otherwise. In the absence of any way to check everyone’s homework for bullshit, it’s very easy to just praise the teams who seem most vociferous about abiding by the maxims of analytics as good-faith practitioners. Draft picks and youth are valuable; roster flexibility is key; defense is cheap, and maybe the new (or now just recent) inefficiency—all the little truisms distilled and disseminated in that ESPN analytics package are basically just talking points when coming from teams that promise they’ve done the math even if you can’t see it working yet.
As such, the analytics story right now isn’t just about a standard-issue business division being imparted divine powers by the media and the people who benefit from such coverage; it’s about right-minded and unverifiable claims being attached to all manner of disasters as a way of reassuring fans that they shouldn’t worry, that there is a plan, and that the plan is based on smart-people things.
There’s an asterisk after “LSD.” The asterisk refers to some words just below the hand of the Astros player in the rocking chair. According to Hartig, those words read: “Leo S. Durocher,” apparently trying to call the Cubs manager a crybaby.
Now, Durocher’s middle initial wasn’t “S”—his middle name was “Ernest.” It does appear that it could have been a drug reference, which seems very odd in that buttoned-down era. Some have speculated it was for “Lake Shore Drive” in Chicago—but no one in Chicago referred to Lake Shore Drive as “LSD” in 1966. That didn’t happen until the 1970s. It did, however, make the Durocher-Astros feud even worse, and it didn’t help the team any, either. The Cubs had a horrendous record in the Astrodome not only during Durocher’s tenure as manager, but during its entire existence from 1965-1999: 83-137, by far their worst record in any park outside Wrigley Field in that era.
The kicker to this whole thing, of course, is that Durocher wound up his managing career in Houston, as Astros manager in 1972-73.
“There’s a few questions, but more about what specific role they’re going to play,” Luhnow said. “What role Evan Gattis is going to play, what role Chris Carter is going to play, those are two fundamental questions we need to answer because there’s only one DH position. So that’s a big piece for us.
I’m just the messenger: Just pointing out that Lester had a 4.82 ERA in 2012 and 3.75 in 2013. Yes, big 2014, new league, no DH and more cutters instead of four-seamers and he could be even better. But you never know. He may not be as good as he was last year. And then there’s Jake Arrieta, former faded prospect turned rotation anchor. He looks like the real deal but ... again ... you never know. Hey, I’m trying. I like the Cubs! I have them ranked 13th!
The final word: If I had more guts I’d predict them to win the division, but they have two strong clubs ahead of them and even the Brewers or Reds are capable of 90 wins. The Cubs are still sorting a few things out and waiting for some of the young guys to mature. Sometimes, teams do break through right away; if Bryant and Jorge Soler are 3-4 win players as rookies and Lester and Arrieta throw 400-plus innings of great baseball, the Cubs could be the big surprise of 2015.