Some things to talk about while we savor last night's victory for just a little bit longer...
1) Impressions from Opening Night
Last night was pretty cool. It was the first time I'd ever been to Opening Day and was well worth driving over to Minute Maid Park. Let's go to the bullet points for some of my observations from last night.
- The park redesign looks very good. Orange and navy are everywhere and there are cool murals on columns around the concourse level with pictures from Houston's past. Home Run Alley has been transformed into a Hall of Legends or some similar title, with pictures of Biggo, Bagwell, Jimmy Wynn and Jose Cruz. On the wall are pictures of the four and on the pillars between the pics are facts about the players. Pretty neat.
- I didn't actually round the concourse last season, but have I just missed the huge Saint Arnold's booth behind the Crawford Boxes? When did they put that in?
- Lance Berkman looks very, very gray. That was a little shocking.
- Lots and lots of national media in town. I knew it'd be a different game when I pulled up to park and Tim Cowlishaw had signed in right ahead of me. Didn't get to meet Brian T., as he was, you know, working the entire time. Seriously, that dude is on the move constantly. Might be why he does such a good job.
- Another cool moment happened around the batting cages. I was standing near the Astros dugout watching Chris Carter, Carlos Corporan and Jose Altuve hit when I noticed MIke Elias standing around with a couple other dudes in suits. One of them was wearing a snappy fedora, which made me realize it was Kevin Goldstein. I didn't recognize the other guy, so I just assumed he was a new PR guy or something. Then, Jim Crane walked up and stood with them along with Stephanie Wilka. Found out a few moments later that the guy I didn't recognize was David Stearns. So, I was standing right beside pretty much Houston's entire baseball ops team. One of those things was not like the other...
- The Astros clubhouse has been changed and is much more open. Looks like they took out an entertainment center in the middle of the clubhouse, while also changing up the colors to fit the new team scheme.
- The Diamond Club, too, has gone through renovations and it is very swanky now. Bigger and much nicer. So, for the two of you readers who might be able to go see that, it's worth checking out.
2) BoBall paying off
So much went on in that game last night, one of the runs may go unnoticed. But, when Brandon Barnes scored from first on a single by Ronny Cedeno that was misplayed by Nelson Cruz, it was a perfect example of BoBall at work.
Cruz may have dropped it if Barnes hadn't been hustling, but as Jason Collette pointed out last night, Barnes did a great job of baserunning to push that run across.
Note where Barnes struck each bag as he ran the bases there. Astros had each inside corner of bases painted on bases on back fields— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) April 1, 2013
The other thing that was pretty noticeable (if I had been able to see the field for the entire game), is how much Houston utilized the shift. It wasn't just an infield shift, either. Both the infield and outfield shifted around pretty dramatically based on batter tendencies.
It's still one game, but it appears that Houston will play slightly differently than they did last season and that all the work they put in during spring training will carry over to the regular season. That seems like a stupid point, but you never know what stuff in spring will be abandoned once the season begins and what may stick. BoBall is apparently here to stay.
3) Should the NL adopt the DH?
One non-Opening Night related item, but I liked this discussion on whether the National League should adopt the DH. Thanks to Hardball Talk for linking to Bernie Miklasz' piece. He has a series of arguments to support it, including:
It's worth a read, because Miklasz takes his time to build a nice case for the DH. I'm still anti-DH, but I can see his arguments for it.
The only time I noticed it last night was when Ankiel came in to pinch hit. At first, when he was announced, I assumed he was pinch hitting for the pitcher. So, when Bedard was still on the mound, I was confused for a second before realizing what had happened. Not a big thing, but this new stuff will take some time for me to adjust.
How many of you are pro-DH across all of baseball? Does it bother you to watch college baseball with a DH all the time?