(Before I let Stephen take over my blog for a few minutes, I would just like to say how awesome it was to have Stephen represent THSC at “Blogger Night.” It was super awesome that Alyson Footer thought so highly of my blog to have invited me and it was much more awesome to have someone as witty and baseball savvy as Stephen to rep me! Even though our Astros crapped the bed, I’m glad he had fun and I know my readers will enjoy his submission. Thanks, Stephen! - Andy)
Friday night the Astros hosted their first ever “Blogger Night” in yet another effort by the new regime to connect with fans. It was a tremendous night marred only by the Astros on field result (a 7th straight loss). I had the opportunity to hang out at Minute Maid Park for most of the day, and as a result I left feeling slightly down about the continued losing streak, yet extremely excited about the future of a franchise with so many terrific die-hard fans. There was a living legend, an impressive GM, and a lot of Astros talk with fellow “lifers”.
Lucky for me my day began around 3pm. I was one of the few Houstonians able to get to the park in time to see J.R. Richard inducted into the Walk of Fame. It was my first chance to see the Astros legend in person, and no human besides Yao Ming has ever left me in quite as much awe from their sheer physical presence as J.R. Richard. Seeing him made me think that along with leading the league in strikeouts, Mr. Richard must have also led the league in crapped pants in the batter’s box. I can’t imagine having to dig in against J.R. Richard in his prime. If you follow Andy and myself on Twitter, then you know how we feel about honoring the Astros legend (RETIRE #50!!!). I get the feeling there has been a lot of things happen behind the scenes between J.R. and the organization (even some that we don’t know about), and I sincerely hope that Friday was the first step toward a better relationship with new ownership that will one day result in #50 being recognized as the most intimidating and dominant pitcher to EVER wear an Astros jersey.
Later that evening I was fortunate enough to meet a newer face to the Astros family - GM Jeff Luhnow. He didn’t give me a bag of M&M’s like his bestie Andy, but he did satisfy the general consensus that it’s hard to meet Mr. Luhnow and not walk away impressed by him. I’d love to tell you he gave us bloggers inside info on Monday’s draft, or a preview of the new uniforms (which I found out Alyson Footer has already seen - and LOVES them!), but you know he didn’t want to cause a huge stir by dropping insider information on the millions of Houston Sports Counterplot readers. Instead of a name for 1-1, I gathered some general impressions from our short conversation.
Jeff Luhnow cares about what YOU think. He asked nearly as many questions of us as we did of him. He wanted to know our thoughts on Tal’s Hill and in game scoreboard stats. He even seemed interested in our “day jobs”. Let’s be honest, the previous ownership would have never thought to have an event like “Blogger Night”. Everything Crane, Luhnow, and co. have done so far seems to indicate that they are 100% interested in what the fans think (a good sign for the upcoming uni switch)!
Jeff Luhnow is much smarter than you or me. This may come as a shocker, but the man knows his baseball and seems to care deeply about the future of this organization. I may not know who the Astros are taking 1-1, but I do feel confident that we are going to use this draft to stockpile a lot of talent in our minors. The front office seems to really be in unison and committed to a common goal that is clearly defined. I’ve never felt better about the long term future of our Astros.
I was blown away that Mr. Luhnow would take the time to meet with a group of “bloggers”, especially given how busy he must be right now. He has an extremely likable personality, and he has a jedi-like ability to make you like him. We’ve all read the articles gushing over Mr. Luhnow recently - and they’re right. He’s smart, personable, and also very confident. He won’t be run out of town if a few early moves don’t pan out and some Twitter gangsters start hashtagging #LuhnowLogic all over the net. I got the impression that he listens to the fans, but is also extremely confident in his abilities. I hope he has a long and successful tenure in Houston.
Finally, it was time to focus on the actual game. Unfortunately, the most impressive on field performance belonged to Aroldis Chapman in the 9th. The less than exciting game allowed for more time to meet and talk baseball with the other bloggers. It’s great to see how many people have a passion for our ball club, and share a renewed enthusiasm for where we are headed. Talking to the others in attendance, I was reminded of how passionate a base the Astros still boast despite their recent struggles. It’s always fun talking baseball with knowledgeable Astros fans. Fernando Martinez came up more than a few times during the night, so it was exciting to come home and see that he would be added to the roster on Saturday…. a small peek at the future to end a night that began by honoring a legend, and ended with a harsh reminder of the present.