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Minute Maid Park: The putt-putt golf course of MLB

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Tal's Hill in centerfield of Minute Maid Park is a controversial topic in Houston, where do you stand?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last fall the Astros announced they would be looking at ways to change Tal's Hill. They didn't say they would flatten it, get rid of it or move the flag pole, simply that they were going to change it. This news came wrapped in the discussion of other possible changes to Minute Maid Park- a upgrade in the design and layout of the Club level, addition of a club Hall of Fame, change int he placement of the bullpens.

This all came to mind last night when the Orioles took an early lead over the Astros with a hit to centerfield that rolled up Tal's hill.

Yes, it rolled up the hill. There is no other ballpark that can say that in a game recap.

Most Houstonians are familiar with the story of how Tal's Hill came to be, but let's have a refresher, shall we? Former Astros president, Tal Smith oversaw the construction of this stadium. In approving the design he wanted to make sure there was some of the feel of traditional, famous and beloved ballparks including Crosley Field in Cincinnati and the original Yankee Stadium, including Crosley's famous berm. His goal was the magic and charm that those historical parks had.

Of course, at Crosley that natural berm was in left field and given the layout and the downtown location of the Astros new ballpark, there was no room in left field. Those who have been inside Minute Maid know that there's the concourse, the Crawfish Boxes and nothing else on that side of the park. There would be no Tal's Hill for fans to sit upon in left field.

With no room in left, it was decided to add a feature to center field. It would give visiting pitchers a wee bit of relief with a 436 foot centerfield wall. And so Tal's Hill was born. It's about 90 feet wide with a 30 degree slope, a warning track before it and, of course, a flag pole atop it; the flag pole is in play.

The hill doesn't come into play in games very often, but when it does it often make for highlight reel-worthy plays and despite the idea that it could be dangerous, no one has ever been seriously injured chasing a ball up it, but fans still have strong opinions about it, myself included.

I am not a fan of Tal's Hill and I'd like to see it gone. Of course, before they level it, I'd really like to eat a picnic lunch on it and roll down it one time...okay, maybe two. But I find it to be so obviously fake and not charming. If it were a natural part of the landscape where the park was built, fine, but it's not, so why do we pretend? That's my real beef with it, although I do think it makes the ballpark look like a putt-putt golf course.

What do the fans think? I did a very unscientific poll via twitter and fans are still split almost 50/50 on whether they love it or hate it.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> Love it!</p>&mdash; Grant Kline (@81GJKline11) <a href="https://twitter.com/81GJKline11/status/600658435282063360">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> Love it</p>&mdash; Nate&#39;s Place (@Nathan_3535) <a href="https://twitter.com/Nathan_3535/status/600658495541780480">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> Silly gimmick. Hate it.</p>&mdash; Aaron Ashcraft (@Aarcraft9) <a href="https://twitter.com/Aarcraft9/status/600659050934706176">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> Love it!</p>&mdash; Nance (@Bbfanlady) <a href="https://twitter.com/Bbfanlady/status/600660328540708864">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> Don&#39;t care.</p>&mdash; Jayne Hansen (@JayneWTHB) <a href="https://twitter.com/JayneWTHB/status/600662334227484673">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/AGirlintheSouth">@AGirlintheSouth</a> I wish it were gone honestly, I like to see more HR&#39;s. What&#39;s the trade off though: tradition + entertainment or more HR&#39;s?</p>&mdash; Nick Cassone (@NickCassone) <a href="https://twitter.com/NickCassone/status/600664310793314304">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Love how much people hate it <a href="https://t.co/Mt7M4le1dC">https://t.co/Mt7M4le1dC</a></p>&mdash; Thickie Don (@AstrosCounty) <a href="https://twitter.com/AstrosCounty/status/600841040694644736">May 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

What about you? Love it? Hate it? Don't care?