Image (1) Astrodome.jpg for post 6763

Deep thoughts: The Astrodome as Modernist statement

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Sticking with the Astros for a moment, I just read a bit in Design Observer about how its imminent destruction could be a rallying point for Modernist architecture. As in, if it’s allowed to be destroyed, maybe people will realize that a notable piece of architecture was lost and thereby inspire them to save and preserve other Modernist masterpieces:

In a recent article in Architect magazine tied to the destruction of Prentice Hospital in Chicago—another travesty—my Design Observer colleague Alexandra Lange suggested the modern preservation movement was in need of a Penn Station Moment; the destruction of a monument so beloved that it would galvanize a movement to prevent future travesties. The Astrodome is as good a test case for that theory as one could hope to find.

With the caveat that I am a sucker for Mid-century Modernism, this Modernist sentiment about the Astrodome is a bit rich.

Modernism is all about form following function. The Astrodome has literally no function now. The impulse to preserve it is almost entirely about sentiment and nostalgia, with its backers casting about for possible uses for the place and with pipe-dream hopes to renovate and retro-fit the joint into some new function.  These are traits the Modernists were explicitly rejecting. And while, yes, form following function is most specifically about the actual design of buildings, the notion can and should extend to a building’s very purpose, construction and, in the case of the Astrodome, preservation.

I get wanting to save the Astrodome on nostalgic or sentimental grounds. Or, if the argument could’ve been made, grounds of efficiency and utilitarianism.  But I can’t see the Modernist case for it.  If the Modernists were being true to themselves they’d argue for the building of a convention center anew with form following function. Same with any new sports arenas that may be needed.

And they’d admit that, however much of a masterpiece they wish to call the Astrodome, it was built to handle a function for, roughly, 30 years before it became obsolete.

MLB may introduce “tacky” baseballs in 2018

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.

They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.

As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.

Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.

Here we go: Tim Tebow reports to Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets speaks at a press conference after a work out at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.

Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.

The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.

In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: