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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.