Houston voters rejected a referendum yesterday that would have authorized $217 million in bonds to turn the rusting and decaying Houston Astrodome into a convention center. Without the funds to renovate it, the Eighth Wonder of the World is likely headed for demolition.
And with its demolition — whenever that may be — a bit of baseball history will disappear as well. The Astrodome was the first indoor stadium in sports, opening in 1965. Mickey Mantle christened the place with its first home run. Its cavernous dimensions robbed others of many more home runs. Its scoreboard ushered in the jumbo-tron age. Its field bore witness to “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” and the crowd chanting “Let Them Play!” and an epic playoff series between the Mets and Astros. The place was also home to the first rainout in indoor stadium history.
But history can only buy you so much time. Ask Tiger Stadium. Ask Yankee Stadium. As Old Comiskey Park. Ballparks have a shelf life and, absent either continuous or heroic renovation efforts while the place is still being used for baseball — see Fenway, Dodger Stadium and Wrigley — they will eventually fall into disrepair.
Even the futuristic ones.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.