SBD/Issue 2/Franchises

Cubs-Astros Games Moved To Milwaukee After Ike Hits Houston

Hurricane Ike Forces Cubs-
Astros Series To Milwaukee
The first two games of the Cubs-Astros series, which were postponed from Friday and Saturday due to Hurricane Ike, were relocated to Miller Park last night and today, and Astros Owner Drayton McLane said that the team was "left with no choice except to play at Miller Park because every other stadium had a schedule conflict or possible weather issues," according to Richard Justice of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. McLane: "There was just no other choice. We wanted Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Arlington, Atlanta, you name it. There was nothing else." McLane said that the games "couldn't be played after the season because there wasn't enough time to play all three and still start the playoffs in time to satisfy Fox television." Justice notes the decision to play the games in Milwaukee, which is only an hour and a half from Chicago, "didn't sit well with the Astros," and to "emphasize that point, they wore their gray road uniforms and dressed in the visiting clubhouse at Miller Park" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/15). In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt noted the Astros "desperately wanted to keep the games in Houston, especially after Minute Maid Park sustained no damage in Hurricane Ike." The Astros "hoped at the least to host two games Monday, but the city of Houston closed downtown to the public" so the cleanup process could begin. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "picked Miller Park because its retractable roof would eliminate any further weather-related issues." Brewers Exec VP/Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said, "Given the lack of other viable options, we will be ready to serve as hosts." Haudricourt noted Miller Park also "hosted a 'neutral site' series in April 2007 between" the Indians and Angels "due to a snowstorm in Cleveland" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/14).

NO OTHER OPTIONS: McLane: "With all the devastation of the hurricane and because most people have been without power, we just felt that it was improper to be playing baseball [Sunday] or Monday (in Houston)." In Houston, Jose De Jesus Ortiz noted "several neutral sites were considered, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Cincinnati." McLane: "Give credit to [Selig]. He hammered it out." Ortiz reported the "finale of the three-game series will be Sept. 29 at Minute Maid Park if it's needed to determine" the NL Central or NL Wild Card races. Meanwhile, Minute Maid Park "survived Hurricane Ike with only minor water damage," and the stadium is "ready for use whenever it's safe to play a game downtown." McLane: "It just shows how well that stadium is designed. It came through in great shape" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/14).

WAITING TOO LATE? In Chicago, Paul Sullivan reported McLane until Saturday afternoon had "steadfastly refused to concede that playing games in a hurricane-ravaged area was unfeasible, insisting the Astros deserved to keep their home-field advantage" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/14). ESPN’s Buster Olney noted McLane "has gotten some criticism for not agreeing to move this series to a different place before the weekend” (“Mike and Mike in the Morning, ESPN2, 9/15).

Miller Park Crowd Chants Zambrano's Name
As He Neared Conclusion Of No-Hitter
NOT SO NEUTRAL: In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer reports for last night's Cubs-Astros game at Miller Park, almost "every one of 23,441 in attendance chanted [Cubs P Carlos Zambrano's] name, booed the 'home' [Astros] and stood cheering late in the game on two-strike counts," as Zambrano approached a no-hitter (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/15). In Milwaukee, Dan Benson reports Cubs fans "rained down boos on the home team Astros as they ran onto Miller Park's field at the top of the first inning" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/15). Astros manager Cecil Cooper before the game said of having to play in Milwaukee, "I am upset. But what are you going to do about it?" Noting the ballpark would favor the Cubs, Cooper said, "We're not happy with that. If I see [Selig], I'll tell him that. I understand, but I'm not happy" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/15). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Sullivan writes, "Was it fair to make Houston play the Cubs in what's often referred to as 'Wrigley North?'" Astros 1B Lance Berkman said that MLB "'could have done a lot better job' in picking the neutral site for the makeup games." Berkman: "We could have gone to Atlanta, done something in Florida. In my opinion, there's more going on here than just getting two baseball games in" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/15). The HOUSTON CHRONICLE's Justice writes, "Neutral field? Are you kidding me? There's ridiculous and more ridiculous and whatever this was supposed to be." Selig "should be embarrassed to have thrown a team in the thick of playoff contention into this situation" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/15).

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