The Astros aren’t changing their name

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Remember how new Astros’ owner Jim Crane created a mini-controversy last week when he said he planned to conduct a study on whether to change the team’s name?  Well, the results are in. The Astros aren’t going anywhere…except the American League West, that is.

According to Astros’ Sr. Director of Social Media Alyson Footer, Crane said the following in a taped video message to season-ticket holders:

“You asked for change and we added several fan friendly initiatives last week and we hope you like them,” Crane said. “We will continue to listen, and to look for additional ways to improve on and off the field.

“One thing that we are not going to change is the name. We received strong feedback and consensus among season ticket holders and many fans, and we will not change the name Astros. The Houston Astros are here to stay.”

This whole thing probably got more attention that it really deserved, as a name change never appeared to be a serious consideration in the first place, but it’s easy for things to take on a life of their own during the cold and boring days of winter. Still, I doubt many would complain if they made some changes to their uniforms.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.