Astros notes: Lone Star Series, throwback jerseys, Korea and Kerry Wood.
I attribute the buzz simply to curiosity. The Colt .45s were only around for three years before the name changed. Presumably, the logo and jerseys are intriguing, because you can’t find that stuff just anywhere these days.
That said, while there was a little more curiosity about the Colt .45s logo, the shooting star uniforms that the Astros wore when they moved to the Dome — and subsequently brought back this month to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary — seem to have generated more oohs and ahhs. It’s clean. It’s elegant. And it’s pleasing to the eye. Clearly, the shooting star has struck a chord in many of you. It’s simple, yet it has a uniqueness that makes it so identifiable to Houston.
The fans aren’t the only ones embracing the retro jerseys. The players have also enjoyed wearing the throwbacks on Fridays this season, and why not? It mixes things up a little in a long season during which the uniforms don’t vary all that much.
And they’ve worn them well…
A few of you had questions about the chain of events when a player’s contract is sold to a team overseas, as was the case on Friday when the Astros sold right-hander Henry Sosa’s contract to the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Mainly, you want to know: does Sosa have any say in the matter or does he have to go?
A players cannot be forced to go and he has to give his consent before the Major League team he’s affiliated with can move on a deal. In most cases, when a player’s contract is sold mid-season, it is the foreign club that initiates the discussion. It begins with a status check via Major League Baseball, at which time the Major League club either approves it — meaning, it is willing to discuss the player with the foreign team — or declines, and nothing happens.
In this case, the Astros were aware that Sosa had an interest in going overseas, if something was to develop. After it was approved, the two clubs then reached an agreement on a monetary exchange. That part was conditional on Sosa and the Korean team reaching an agreement.
In a nutshell, Sosa had an interest in playing in Korea, and the Astros, who don’t envision Sosa as being a contributor on the Major League level for them, said yes.
Best of luck to Sosa. He fit in well here after he came over from San Francisco in the Jeff Keppinger trade last year and had some nice moments as both a starter and reliever. I loved that he learned English by listening to country music, and that the first song he picked to do so was “Fishing in the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. All told, he had over 1,000 country songs loaded on his phone, and he was always looking for more.
Right around Christmas in 1997, Astros employees were given a videotape (yes, I’m talking VHS) of the game against the Chicago Cubs that clinched the NL Central division that year. Several years ago I popped the tape into my VCR (yes, I still have one of those) and chuckled at a particular dialogue the television announcers were having about a young prospect barreling through the Cubs’ Minor League system.
Bill Brown mentioned a young fireballer from Texas who was apparently going to be the next big thing, a projected top-of-the-rotation power pitcher who was already drawing comparisons to Nolan Ryan. He was drafted in the first round by the Cubs two years earlier and appeared poised to break in the big leagues soon, possibly as early as the next season.
Kerry Wood indeed debuted in 1998, and three weeks later, he took the mound against the Astros at Wrigley Field. Dubbed by many — over and over and over again — as a “20-year-old phenom,” Wood pitched one of the most dominating games in the history of baseball, striking out 20 and one-hitting a veteran Astros lineup that spent the afternoon simply baffled by what Wood was serving up.
That game undoubtedly is what popped into the minds of most Houston baseball fans when Wood announced his retirement on Friday. But here’s one more that stands out to me.
Late in 2007, in the mid-morning hours prior to a day game at Wrigley Field between the Astros and Cubs, Wood and pitching teammate Ryan Dempster went to the visitor’s clubhouse to pay a visit to Craig Biggio.
Biggio had announced his retirement a month earlier and was being saluted by a lot of opposing teams as the Astros traveled through the league. Wrigley Field was Biggio’s favorite ballpark to play, and Wood and Dempster, perhaps knowing this, presented him with two souvenirs: a number seven from the famous outfield scoreboard, and a seat from the stands, one labeled with a number seven.
More images from the Lone Star Series opener at Minute Maid Park: