Weekend roundup: paternity leave, Social Media Night and Family Day photos
Matt Downs will miss the Washington Nationals series in order to be with his wife, Leah, as she gives birth to their first child, a son.
Downs is officially on “paternity leave,” which means the Astros are entitled to replace Downs on the roster for the three days he will be gone. They have taken advantage of the opportunity, calling up lefty Wesley Wright from Oklahoma City. Downs will be back with the Astros in Chicago on Friday, and Wright will head back to the RedHawks.
The paternity rule was instituted by Major League Baseball this year. It allows players to leave their teams for 24 to 72 hours due to the birth of their children.
Kudos for baseball for finally – FINALLY — implementing such a rule. In the past, players were allowed to leave the team for up to three days because of a birth of a child, but the teams were not permitted to replace them on the roster. In 2004, Mike Lamb missed Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NLCS because of the birth of his son, Andrew. The Astros had with 24 players on the roster for those three games (and, incidentally, won all three).
Chris Johnsonwill meet fans and sign autographs at the Whataburger restaurant located at 4831 Wilson Rd., Humble, TX 77396 from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday (July 19).
The appearance, part of the Whataburger Ultimate “Whatafan” promotion, gives fans the chance to register to win the title of Ultimate “Whatafan.” The Ultimate “Whatafan” will win suite tickets, autographed jerseys and caps from the Astros, Oklahoma City RedHawks and Corpus Christi Hooks, an on-field batting practice visit, the chance to participate in a pregame ceremony and an opportunity to throw out a ceremonial pitch.
We have two events to share in today’s photo album: one from Social Media Night on Saturday and one from Family Day Sunday. Social Media Night was another rousing success, not only because the Astros won (the Astros are 4-2 on Social Media Nights, dating back to last season). We handed out 12 baseballs, autographed by and presented to the winners by Downs, and two Michael Bourn bobbleheads. The next Social Media Night is Aug. 20 and the final one will take place Sept. 24. We will put the August tickets on sale early next month, at which time we will announce who will be guesting.
Family Day is always a hoot. In a nutshell, families of all Astros personnel — players, coaches, manager, front office — are invited onto the field for some wiffle ball and a run or two around the bases. The kids, of course, steal the show every year, and this time was no different. Every part of the field was taken up by little ones, running in all different directions, tackling Junction Jack, rolling around in the dirt…in other words, they were being kids.
The kid population was considerably smaller this year than the last two years, which should come as no surprise — the Astros have shaved off more than four years of their average age since 2009, and when a team gets drastically younger, the amount of offspring it has is much lower as well. That brings me to my all-time favorite picture from Family Day, taken last year. Our two resident single guys, Johnson and Tommy Manzella, watched the chaos unfold from the comforts of the home dugout, and the expressions on their faces (especially CJ’s) is priceless. I keep it on my iphone and look at it whenever I need a laugh.
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