added 9/15/2002 by Greg Lucas

Greg Lucas, longtime Astros and
Fox Sports broadcaster


As many of you know, I take e-mails from Astro fans from my field-level position at Minute Maid Park during Fox Sports Net telecasts.

Actually, I receive letters every day and answer them all, which, as far as I know, makes Astros telecasts still unique in Major League Baseball.

At the same time, I am pleased to add this feature by answering questions, and am ready to tackle the latest submissions...


Where do the broadcasters get the weird statistics, like games won by the Astros when the starting pitcher started, including his no-decisions? Or the opposing pitcher's ERA against the Astros, even when that pitcher's been with two different teams (like Ryan Dempster)? Does this sort of thing come in the press info or does someone in the booth generate them?

J-Mag

It's a combination of three things. Both Brownie on TV, and Milo on radio, keep notebooks with information such as you cite. The Astros' PR department and MLB also keeps material that may be included in pre-game notes or available for research. AND.. some items are researched on the Internet from some of the commercial sites--Fox, ESPN, Sportsline, SI, etc. The Elias Sports Bureau and Stats, Inc. are also sources for much of the information shown on television.


Mr. Lucas,

I'm an Italian Astros fan and I surf the Net to follow the MLB season.

You probably know that there aren't many chances for fans in Europe to see the games, they're on pay-tv and usually late at night and never live broadcasts. Some years ago it was different and that was the secret to make this sport (and others like football or hockey) popular overseas. I understand that the European market isn't so good as it could have seemed years ago, but in my opinion going on this way MLB will be losing the few fans living here.

I'd like to know your opinion, and if you have ever thought that I just know your name and read what you write, but never hear your voice: that's strange for a broadcaster, isn't it?

Thanks,

Giuseppe Ierfone
Lecco, Italy

My wife and I have been fortunate to travel in Europe several times and I am always looking for baseball fields. I have seen them from train windows in your country and the Netherlands, but can't recall seeing them anywhere else although I know the game (and softball) are played at least a little in other countries.

I agree with you that working out more exposure (for free) would help expose the game to more people. For the same reason soccer (futbol) has not gained a foothold as a major spectator sport in the U.S., because of baseball and American football, the reverse holds true in Europe due to the many years of dominance in interest for soccer. But there are niche fans for the sport and you sound like a very good one.

Keep following the game, and stay in touch with us here.


What's going to happen to the Astrodome, and why?

Keith

I have heard from a second-hand source that the folks that run the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo do not have any designs on having the building torn down. There are several potential plans which would include the Dome remaining a key part of the Reliant Park complex including having part of it possibly converted to indoor parking and the upper levels converted into either more convention space or shops or a combination. The track and field concept was brilliant as far as I am concerned. It is unfortunate that will not come to pass apparently.


Greg,

Your column is a brilliant addition to the site. It's refreshing to hear a media person speaking so candidly.

We've got three pitchers on the staff who seem rather similar to me - Saarloos, Munro, and Mlicki. Their performances are naturally important in the upcoming games. What do you see as the differences between these guys, and how do you think they'll figure in the team's future?

Dave

Thanks, Dave, but I'm really only speaking as I see things and this format is perfect.

Regarding the three pitchers you mention... Mlicki is a free agent and does not figure to be back next year. Munro has come out of nowhere to be a real factor for next season. The same goes for Saarloos although he has not been as consistent from start to start.

Both Munro and Saarloos can be successful starters in the major leagues if they can continue to keep command of their pitches low in the strike zone. Greg Maddux has done that for years. But what often happens is a pitcher does it for awhile then has problems (Jose Lima.) Keep your fingers crossed.

Neither Munro nor Saarloos scare the opposition, but when they are on they get them out with regularity.


Mr. Lucas,

Now that the Astros are pretty much toast for 2002 (7.5 games behind St. Louis as I write this), what do you feel could be their most important off-season moves?

Darrell Pittman

Optimally, they will come up with a bona-fide centerfielder with speed who can add a dimension that's missing right now. Third base may stay as it is with Blum/Viz and/or Ensberg, but if the right player became available there could be something done there.

Daryle Ward may find himself elsewhere because of his lower salary and thus lower risk for the acquiring team, although having his lefthanded bat off the bench would be nice even if he is no longer a starter.

The key as I see it is for Richard Hidalgo to work harder than he ever has to again become the player he was in 2000. He is really a good man and of course has had some minor physical ills this year. He needs to lose weight (no, it's not all fat) because his body is carrying too much and has affected his speed (maybe bat speed, too) and agility. I am rooting for him.


See you next time, hopefully after the Astros have caught the Cards. In the meantime, the Fox Sports website -- FoxSports.com with the keyword phrase "Astros Booth" gets you in touch anytime.

Greg Lucas

You can submit your own questions for this column by email to astrosdaily@yahoo.com.

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