Tal’s Hill, Minute Maid Park’s ninety-foot wide obstacle that terrorizes outfielders and inspired the naming of our website, could be going away. For quite some time now, the new ownership group headed by Jim Crane has been toying with the idea of leveling the hill. At Thursday night’s “Black Ties and Baseball Caps Gala” Crane hinted that one of the park’s original features probably won’t be around when the Astros move to the A.L. West next season.
Crane, appearing at the event hosted by the Astros wives and benefiting the Houston Area Women’s Center, has asked for fan input on the future of the hill and had this to say.
They don’t see a lot of sense in having that. We’re looking at a design that would incorporate some other things out there. We could use that space for a lot of different things.
So say goodbye to Tal’s hill. But we won’t be going anywhere. We may have to consider changing our name, but we’ll probably keep it as a reminder of the “old days in the National League.”
Most people hate the hill anyway. I have to say I kind of liked it, but I’m okay with getting rid of it at this point. The thing I don’t like about MMP is the Crawford Boxes. It’s just too easy to hit a homerun to leftfield there. I mean, pop flies that would have been easy outs in ANY other ballpark are homeruns at MMP. It’s just ridiculous! Yes, even more ridiculous than a hill and a flagpole in front of a centerfield fence that is a mile-and-a-half from home plate.
Tal’s Hill and the Crawford Boxes are two stadium quirks that were meant to somehow compliment each other. The easily reachable seats in left were meant to be cancelled out by the ridiculously large dimensions in centerfield. If one of these features is removed I believe the other would have to go with it. Furthermore, if the Astros take the current leftfield configuration into American League play the results will be catastrophic. Certainly our group of wiz kids in the front office realize this.
Increasing the dimensions to the leftfield fence is a must. But, unlike doing away with the hill, moving the Crawford Boxes won’t be a popular decision for some of the fans. So how do Crane and company get it done without losing more paying customers? Relocating the Crawford Boxes would seem to make the most sense. But where would they go? There will have to be a batter’s eye in straight-away center, leaving no room for seating there.
My guess is the higher-ups already have a plan in place to reconfigure the outfield from the leftfield foul pole to the right-centerfield bleachers. They’re just trying to figure out how to break the news without further alienating those of us that have remained loyal to the team. So brace yourselves, and get ready for a new look at MMP.