The SABR national membership is getting the best we can offer of Houston: friendly people, informed baseball folks, open and receptive and forthcoming former players and front office icons, legendary Texas food and culinary hospitality, some of the best of our worst hot weather in early August, MLB and independent league baseball action, tours of our historic places and ball parks, and, oh yes, a level of universal air conditioning that makes an active productive life in the Bayou City even possible for residents and visitors alike.
Friday morning at 10:00 AM, the 1980 Houston Astros Panel convened under moderator Kenny Hand, a long-time Houston sportswriter. The panel included former 3rd baseman Enos Cabell, former batting coach Deacon Jones, former left fielder Jose CRRRRRUUUUUUZZZZZZ, and former Astros front office rebuilding wizard, Tal Smith. Tal Smith spoke for many of us Astros fans when he reasoned that Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS, a loss by the Astros to the Phillies, was both the most exciting – and most disappointing game our Houston club has ever played – even more so than the Game 6 loss we encountered, also in the Astrodome, six year later, against the 1986 New York Mets.
Keynote luncheon speaker Larry Dierker was at his Hawaiian-shirted, curmudgeonly best in urging several specific changes to speed up the pace of game before it loses both its younger and even older attention-span challenged fans. He also left us with some comments that could only have come from the Dierker Dome of Philosophical Contemplation. For example, at one point, Larry offered that baseball is the only team sport that is not played on a rectangular field. “I’m not sure what that means,” Dierker added, “But I found the thought interesting.” Everything is interesting about Larry Dierker. In my view, he is one of the brightest minds to ever find his way into the mainstream of the game. People like Dierker go through thoughts like the rectangular field oddity because they don’t throw out any observation before they decide which ones are the keepers and which ones belong in the trash. For now, we shall simply have to assume that baseball’s avoidance of the normally expected horizontal box apace is a still a thought in which the jury remains out. I like that kind of thinking. Keep it up, Larry!
Friday afternoon at 2:30 PM, a fast moving, quick-minded media panel brought thoughtful attention to baseball’s need to maintain the attention of viewers while also satisfying the commercial need of advertisers who pay the bills for the game’s expensive talent payroll. There’s not doubt among the media panelists that baseball needs to address the pace of play issues that will determine our sport’s ability to hold the attention of younger fans in years to come, but also no doubt that the advertising support of sponsors will continue to be essential, but contradictory to the goal of improving pace of play.
Media panelists included Bill Brown, long-time telecaster of the Houston Astros; Evan Drellich, Astros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle; Allyson Footer, national correspondent for MLB.Com; and Buck Martinez, play-by-play guy for the Toronto Blue Jays. Former Astros broadcaster Brett Dolan served as panel moderator.
Friday afternoon at 4:30 PM, Marie “Red” Mahoney, a former member of the Women’s League that flourished briefly in the 1940s as the inspiration for the iconic baseball film, “A League of Their Own,” got everyone’s attention when stated that her successful transition from softball to standard hard ball was “very hard.”
“Softball’s all about pitching,” Red noted, “but baseball’s about everything else. From strategy, to where you play in the field, to how quick you are in learning and responding to the requirements of your position on the field – and on a level that allows you to win more games than you lose. Back in the day, we had to learn everything about the game – and also play it in a short skirt that most of us had never worn before in our lives. It wasn’t easy, but I just loved the game. Always have. And still do.
We’ll vouch for Red Mahoney too. She’s a proud and happy contributing member of the Larry Dierker Chapter in Houston.
Again, our apologies for all the equally worthy SABR 44 activities we had to miss yesterday for the sake of covering the ones we had time to include. Now it’s off to Saturday’s bill, already have missed some things to this writing need, but this afternoon will make up for all loses of time. We are going as a SABR 44 group to the Toronto Blue Jays @ Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park at 6:05 PM this evening, after attending a couple of at-the-ball-park panels presentations in the afternoon.
We shall see you again on the other side of another great day with baseball!
Tags: Friday at SABR 44