Last night the Astros held their first ever “blogger night” at Minute Maid Park. Those of us who spend countless hours writing about baseball on the internet strictly for the love of our team prefer the term Internet Baseball Reporter, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the free food and other perks that came along with this invitation-only event.
Alyson Footer and the Astros organized this affair that included a private suite for the game and an appearance by Jeff Luhnow. The Astros new General Manager arrived at the suite about a half-hour before the game and immediately struck up a meaningful conversation with the attendees. In addition to myself, there were seven other writers present. Luhnow asked us all how long we had been writing, how much time we spent doing it on a daily basis, and what our “day jobs” were.
Luhnow seemed truly interested in our opinions and continued asking questions to several individuals. One other topic that he touched on was the configuration of the ballpark, particularly Tal’s Hill. Although the majority of the writers thought the hill added character to the park and should stay as is, Luhnow seemed to be of the opinion that it was a foible that we would be better off without.
When the tables finally turned and we were able to start asking some questions, I thought Luhnow’s responses seemed affable and genuine. Of course, everyone wanted to know who the Astros are going to select with the first overall pick in next week’s draft. Luhnow said that the list had been narrowed down to five players, but couldn’t tell us who those five players are. Obviously there are some things that need to be kept secret, as Luhnow later explained in his response to another question.
Sometimes a particular reliever that you thought should have been brought into the game at a particular time may not have been available due to a minor injury that the other team’s manager didn’t need to know about.
When asked what he does during the games and whether or not he ever had contact with Brad Mills during a game he quickly answered, “No, the only one in the dugout I might be in contact with is the trainer, if there is an injury or something.”
When it was time for the game to start Jeff shook a few hands and headed off to the owner’s suite to do what it is he does during the games. Yes, I call him Jeff now because we had a few laughs and he spoke to all of us as if we were friends that he had known for years.
Even though the Astros lost their seventh straight last night I still had a great time at the game. Jeff reminded us that the plan hasn’t changed and getting off to a good start was always part of that plan. I came away reassured that the franchise is in capable hands and the future is bright.
I also got the chance to finally meet some of the writers that I have been reading for a while now. It was a neat experience to be a part of what is starting to become a close-knit group of Internet Baseball Reporters. More to come…