New Year, New Office, New Schedule…And Thoughts on Biggio
Greetings, everyone, and a belated happy new year. My intention was to post right after the New Year, but things have been busy. As in, busiest since last season ended.
Things have been a bit chaotic around the offices at the ballpark lately. There have been massive renovations and people moving into new spaces. Our facility operations team has been working non-stop for weeks, and there’s still a ton of work left. I tip my hat to our facilities manager Harlan Budde for all he has done so far.
(By the way, here’s some RedHawks trivia for you: Harlan is one of four current full-time employees that was on staff when the team moved to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in 1998. The others are groundskeeper Monte McCoy, merchandise manager Nancy Simmons, and operations director Mike Prange.)
We also welcomed our new baseball operations manager, Mitch Stubenhofer. Whereas most of our awesome staff is focus on sales and making RedHawks games a tremendous experience for fans, Mitch and I are the ones who are focused mostly on the baseball aspect. Unfortunately for him, it means the two of us interact quite a lot. He has a thankless job, coordinating team travel, helping players and coaches with living arrangements, keeping umpires happy, and tons of other random things that will surely come up on a daily basis. He’ll be in for a treat when the Big XII Tournament rolls around Memorial Day weekend.
Since I last checked in, we’ve been able to announce a few exciting things. The 2013 coaching staff is set, led by returning manager Tony DeFrancesco. Although I was hoping he would be able to stick with the Astros as part of their staff, I’m happy the Tony D Show is headed back to OKC. Hitting coach Leon Roberts and Athletic Trainer Mike “Otis” Freer return as well. Tom Lawless–who filled as manager for the final 16 games of 2012–returns as an infield coach. He’ll also spend time visiting other Astros affiliates and working with infielders throughout the organization.
Former pitching coach Burt Hooton is no longer with the organization. Steve Webber will take his place in 2013. Steve spent several years with the Padres, including the last three at the Triple-A level. Like I imagine any other PCL pitching coach would be, I’m sure he’s happy he gets to switch over to the American Conference, away from the hitter-friendly Pacific Conference.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Alex Pounds is the other new addition to the staff. It took me awhile to realize it, but yes, the strength coach’s last name is actually Pounds. You can find all sorts of other details about the coaching staff here.
The other major piece of news is the official release of the 2013 schedule. During the home slate we’ll 12 fireworks nights, four outside entertainment nights, and four special giveaway nights. There will also be a couple of field trip days in May. You can read all about it here.
Which leads me to one of my favorite topics…schedule quirks/highlights. Here are some that stick out:
- Not including the All-Star Break, there are five scheduled days off. None occur in the middle of a homestand. Thus, all of the “off” days will be affected by travel somehow. That will make for some very tired players, coaches, and broadcasters.
- The best road trip of the year is the first one: Memphis & Nashville. My two favorite cities in the league, hands down.
- The RedHawks’ first home opponent is Memphis. Naturally, the Redbirds don’t return to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark almost five months later during the final series of the regular season.
- Both of the RedHawks’ trips to Iowa occur within a three week span in May. (Cinco de Mayo in Des Moines!)
- For the second straight year, the RedHawks will spend the 4th of July in New Orleans.
- The are no “super series” this year. Occasionally teams will play two consecutive series against each other, switching locations halfway through. This happened twice with New Orleans last year, but will thankfully not happen at all this season. Things get kind of stale once you reach games 7-8.
- For those of you who like to listen to baseball at work, there are 10 weekday day games.
- The day I am looking least forward to: May 24. Team will travel from Fresno to Des Moines. You don’t have to be a travel expert to know there is no easy way to do that. Plus, you lose two hours.
Hall of Fame Thoughts
I will end this post by briefly touching on the Hall of Fame vote earlier this week. A co-worker recently asked me what I thought about no one getting elected this year, and the truth is, I don’t really have an opinion. Like the BCS, HOF voting it’s a weird system, and I’ve accepted it for what it is.
Astros fans were obviously disappointed neither Craig Biggio nor Jeff Bagwell was voted in. However, I think it’s a bit of a misnomer to say Biggio was “snubbed”. The reason I say that is because he’ll have other chances to get in. This wasn’t a one-time shot. In fact, he’ll most likely get in next year.
Growing up in St. Louis, I was witness to the great rivalry between the Astros and Cardinals from the late 1990’s through the mid 2000’s. (In addition to the 2004 & 2005 NLCS, there was also the whole the 2001 NL Central “co-champion” kerfuffle.) During Biggio’s playing days, my father, brother, and I all agreed Biggio was a no-brainer Hall of Famer. To the average fan, he might not have been considered a superstar, but he was as consistent as a player could be, and he was great at three different positions. Not to mention, he brought above-average offensive value to two of those positions (catcher and second base). Whereas there are other looming issues surrounding some other notable candidates, there aren’t any with Biggio.
That’s all I got for now. Thanks for reading.