10/25/05 9:18 PM ET
Minute Maid Park roof open for Game 3
Astros question decision-making process
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
After consulting with Astros officials, Jimmie Lee Solomon -- Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations -- announced on Tuesday afternoon that the roof would be open when the Astros met the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night in the first World Series game played in Texas.
"The rules for the retractable roof are clear," Solomon said. "We're just following the rules that are in place."
The rules in place for Minute Maid Park stipulate that the roof will be closed when game-time temperature is 80 degrees or higher, and open when the temperature is below 80 degrees. And, of course, if rain and/or winds are a problem, the roof can be closed regardless of temperature.
With game-time temperatures expected to be in the low 60s (it was 70 at 4:30 p.m. CT) and a cloudless sky, the decision was made to leave the roof open, even though overnight lows in the 40s are forecast.
"I think it is a disregard for the comfort of our fans, and that's the last statement I'm going to make about it," Astros manager Phil Garner said.
A few fans chanted "close the roof, close the roof" during batting practice.
"They play the All-Star Game and they claim its important because the winner gets home-field advantage at the World Series," Houston catcher Brad Ausmus said. "Well, this is part of our home-field advantage and for Major League Baseball to try and take it away is either A. Ridiculous, or B. They're American League fans."
Ausmus' teammate, Mike Lamb, echoed those sentiments.
"It's almost like a road game for us now," Lamb said.
The Astros wanted the roof closed because the facility is much louder when enclosed, and they feel that gives them an edge. Though some pitchers feel the closed roof gives them an edge and that the ball doesn't carry as well, the evidence to support that claim is sketchy.
"I know it's unpopular here, and I'm sorry about that," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "But we have to be guided by what we think is a sense of fairness both by a sense of history and their own club's history. And this is the postseason, so while we don't let clubs doctor up their outfields or do other things to give them a competitive edge, weather should be the sole criteria, and has been for them here."
The roof stayed closed for much of the season because of the extreme heat and humidity that routinely plagues Houston from late May through much of September. Astros players say they are accustomed to playing under a closed roof.
The roof was closed during the National League Division Series and the League Championship Series, even though the game-time temperature for some of the NLCS games in Houston was below 80 degrees.
"I had extensive discussions with this organization last week during the Cardinals series," said MLB President/COO Bob DuPuy. "And we closed the roof for Games 3 and 4 because of the heat during the afternoon, those were afternoon games, and because of the shadows."
"We got to Monday night and ... [Astros owner] Drayton [McLane Jr.] and I had extensive discussions about the fact that temperature was going to be 80 degrees or higher at game time, they wanted it closed, because that had been their policy all year. I told them that was fine. And I told them at the World Series if the weather continued to get cooler that the Commissioner was going to have the roof open and it was within his discretion."
Selig and DuPuy both said fan comfort, along with fairness, were the concerns.
"It's a beautiful day and not a cloud in the sky," Solomon said. "Why wouldn't you want the roof open on a day like this?"
Solomon said that the decision was not unprecedented, citing the 2001 World Series, when all four games at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix were played with the roof open. He said the decision was made after meeting with Astros officials. No other parties were involved in the decision.
"[There was] no television input at all," Solomon said.
The Astros, including postseason play, are 57-29 at Minute Maid Park in 2005. They were 38-17 at Minute Maid Park with the roof closed in the regular season and 15-11 with it open.
"I don't think it's any secret we'd rather have it closed," Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "But we'll just have to go along with it."
The roof status will be determined on a daily basis.
Solomon, besieged by reporters seeking comment on the decision, took the stream of questions in stride.
"I wish I could get on that train and get away," he joked, referring to the train that runs along the top of the trestle above the left-field wall.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.