Blame it on the wind
Frustrations about wind patterns at the Astros’ ballpark date all the way back to its opening as Enron Field, or “10-run field,” in 2000.
Open or closed?
There’s been debate this postseason on whether the retractable roof for Houston’s Minute Maid Park should be kept open during playoff games, and how the open roof could impact play.
MLB decided to keep the roof open for Game 2 of the ALCS Thursday due to favorable weather conditions.
The Astros won the game 3-2 over the Yankees.
My book Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever is available wherever books are sold.
Following the game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone complained that the wind blowing in from right field knocked down a potential home run by slugger Aaron Judge.
"Who would have thought? I think the roof open kind of killed us," Boone told reporters after the game.
Yankees pitcher Luis Severino noted that a ball struck to left field by Houston’s Alex Bregman got a boost from the wind, and wound up driving in all three of the Astros’ runs.
“They got lucky,” Severino said.
“I know the wind was blowing. That was the only reason that ball got out.”
Frustrations about the ballpark’s wind conditions date all the way back to its opening as Enron Field in 2000 (the scandal-plagued Houston company bought the initial naming rights before the Astros bought the rights back two years later).
The stadium was a big adjustment from the team’s previous home, the outdated Astrodome, which was the ultimate pitcher’s park. But the wind conditions at Enron Field — which featured flourishes from other historic ballparks, such as a ramped hill in center field, an outfield flagpole that was in play, and a train — concerned Astros pitchers.
Since construction on the ballpark finished shortly before the season, most of the players hadn’t seen it before coming back from spring training.
So the Astros didn’t have long to prepare for its quirks. Like the prevailing wind that blew out to left-center during the early part of the season, before the roof closed due to the sweltering heat.
“In April, we tried to keep the roof open whenever we could because the weather was nice,” Astros manager Larry Dierker told me in an interview for my book on Astros player Ken Caminiti. “So we started to see that season off, and it was kind of like ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ — you know, the rockets were red glaring all over the place, the balls were flying out of it like rockets.”
Enron Field soon had a nickname: “10-run field,” representing the number of runs the Astros were giving up each game as the team stumbled to last place.
“It was like playing in Yellowstone and then being moved into a shoebox,” closer Billy Wagner told me. “It was a whole different setting of how everything in your perspective looked. I mean, a 3–0 pitch in the Astrodome, hey, I’m throwing it on the outside part of the plate and seeing how far he can hit it, and chances are it’s just going to the warning track and you’re out. You had to be a better pitcher at Enron than you had to be anywhere else at that time, because for me as a fly ball pitcher, now you’re playing in a very small park except for one spot. It was different. I had to learn how to pitch in that ballpark.”
The Astros have obviously adjusted to play at their home park. But Houston often plays with the roof closed. It’s louder that way — and there’s no reason to worry about the wind.