The Astros Take Manhattan

The Astros are in New York City for three days to take on the Yankees. They already won the first game thanks to this ridiculous monster blast by Chris Carter on Tuesday night. When any team visits the Big Apple, it’s all about making the rounds. Promotional appearances, tourist stops and lots of surprises along the way. Here’s a quick look in photos at the Astros’ time in Manhattan.

Jose Altuve spent part of his off day on Monday hanging with Julia Roberts. At Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times Square.

 

Chris Carter, the American League Player of the Week, stopped by the MLB.com headquarters for the Edward Jones Chatting Cage on Tuesday. And yes, he is smiling!

Chris Carter at MLB.com headquarters in NYC

Chris Carter at MLB.com headquarters in NYC

 

All-Star Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler taped an episode of MTV2’s Off the Bat at the MLB Fan Cave on Tuesday (tune in on Sunday morning at 10 am CT on MTV2 (or at least set your DVRs).

Fowler and Altuve on the set of Off the Bat

Fowler and Altuve on the set of Off the Bat

 

Jose Altuve showed off his table tennis game. Oh yeah, he got mad table tennis skills. For real.

Jose Altuve shows off his table tennis skills at the Fan Cave

Jose Altuve shows off his table tennis skills at the Fan Cave

And they laughed with Chris DiStefano and Sway:

On the set of Off the Bat

On the set of Off the Bat

On Wednesday, this happened at an undisclosed location in New York City. Just Jose Altuve hanging out with Kevin Durant. A couple of All-Stars. No big deal.

Oh yeah, Carmelo Anthony was also there. Or at least what’s left of him after his major summertime slimdown.

And Marwin Gonzalez also enjoyed the VIP access with NBA superstars, including watching KD and Carmelo go one on one.

Finally, pitchers Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel stopped by the MLB Fan Cave to hang with the Cave Dwellers and participate in some silliness. Here’s a little photo sneak preview:

 

McHugh and Keuchel at the MLB Fan Cave

McHugh and Keuchel at the MLB Fan Cave

 

Houston Astros visit MLB Fan Cave

 

Go Wig or Go Home, boys.

McHugh and Keuchel in a skit at the MLB Fan Cave

McHugh and Keuchel in a skit at the MLB Fan Cave

 

We’ll be sharing videos and more sneak previews from the Fan Cave visit and don’t forget to set your DVR for Off the Bat on Sunday at 10 am CT on ESPN2!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

Astros Social Media Night is August 27 — vote on our #SocialStros Shirt!

Social Media Night is August 27!

Social Media Night is August 27!

Hey guys, it’s Amanda your friendly Astros Social Media Manager here! I’m really excited for our first and only Astros Social Media Night of 2014 on August 27 vs. the A’s. We’ve got all sorts of great things in store for y’all at Minute Maid Park . Tickets are $50. Yes, I know that sounds a little expensive but hear me out. What do you get for that $50? A seat at the Bud Patio (the $50 is less than the lowest price for a single seat) overlooking center field. PLUS you get $15 of preloaded value you can use anywhere at Minute Maid Park — for food, drink or merchandise. And all of the following exclusive Social Media Night perks. PLUS A COOL SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHT T-SHIRT (more below).

Here’s a list of the special guests we’ve confirmed so far: more will be added!

Special features throughout the night include:

  • #SocialStros attendees will have their tweets featured on @astros as play by play of the game
  • Selfies witih Orbit
  • Q&A with Jeff Luhnow
  • Live Astros Trivia for great prizes (signed baseballs, etc.)
  • Goya Baseball Shuffle on El Grande!
  • #WackyWalkup returns
  • More social surprises!

PLUS YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EXCLUSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHT T-SHIRT. And here’s where you can get involved in #SocialStros early. We need you to vote on which shirt you will get on August 27.  Our graphic design team has come up with three different designs and we need your help. All will be orange, two-sided and we will have a variety of sizes.

Here’s how to vote: tweet us @astros with your choice using the #SocialStrosVote  hashtag. Select A, C or D (we had a B but it’s been eliminated). We’ll close voting at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 20.

Choice A: (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

#SocialStros Shirt Option 1

#SocialStros Shirt Choice A

 

Choice B: ELIMINATED

 

Choice C: (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

#SocialStros Shirt Option C

#SocialStros Shirt Choice C

 

Choice D: (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

 

#SocialStros Shirt Option 4

#SocialStros Shirt Choice D

 

Aren’t these fun? Let us know which one you want to take home with you on August 27. Vote early, vote often! And get your tickets for Social Media Night now before they sell out! Astros.com/socialmedia.

Get your spare batteries and chargers packed and I will see you there!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

 

Astros Altuve, Fowler and GM Luhnow accept ALS #IceBucketChallenge

Fowler, Luhnow and Altuve accept the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park. (Photo credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

OF Dexter Fowler, GM Jeff Luhnow and 2B Jose Altuve accept the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park. (Photo credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another installment of the daily Astros #IceBucketChallenge update. (If we need to explain what the Ice Bucket Challenge is at this point, then I’m not sure what to tell you). You should know that ALS is a horrible, debilitating disease and this incredible viral movement is working. The ALS Association reports that more than $3 million has been raised since it started, triple the amount usually raised during this time period.

Earlier this week, LHP Dallas Keuchel accepted the challenge from CSN Houston’s Julia Morales and OF L.J. Hoes accepted the challenge on behalf of his late grandfather who died of the disease. On Friday, our out of this world mascot Orbit accepted the challenge from the Rays Raymond as only he knows how — in a BIG way. On Friday at Fenway Park, George Springer and Carlos Corporan accepted their challenges in back to back pre-game dousings.

Springer and Corporan in turn nominated OF Dexter Fowler, second baseman Jose Altuve and GM Jeff Luhnow. All three nominees accepted concurrently on Saturday afternoon before game 3 of the Astros-Red Sox series.

 

Altuve nominated teammate Marwin Gonzalez and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera. Fowler nominated Astros owner Jim Crane. Luhnow nominated fellow Houston GMs, Rick Smith (Texans) and Daryl Morey (Rockets).

Stay tuned…

To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.

 

Triple Astros dousing at Fenway.

Triple Astros dousing at Fenway.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

Astros Wear High Socks for Longtime Coach Gordy MacKenzie

Earlier this week, the Astros announced that longtime Astros minor league coach and scout Gordy MacKenzie passed away on Tuesday. MacKenzie was 77 years old and had served as a coach for the Astros Gulf Coast League team since 2008. He first joined the Astros as a minor league instructor (1999-2001) and later returned to the organization as a scout from 2004-08 before joining the Gulf Coast League club’s coaching staff.

Astros Director of Player Development Quinton McCracken released the following statement regarding MacKenzie’s passing:

“This is truly a sad time for the Astros family. Gordy was an outstanding baseball man that was widely respected not only in our organization, but throughout all of baseball. He will be greatly missed. We send our heartfelt condolences to Gordy’s family and many friends.”

MacKenzie was known throughout the organization for his honesty and straightforward assessment of players, which helped to make everyone better as a result. MacKenzie was also known for another signature trait — he always wore his socks high.

On Sunday, the entire Astros team (including coaches) wore high socks for their afternoon game against the Red Sox at Fenway in MacKenzie’s memory.

 

Astros wearing high socks for Gordy MacKenzie

Astros wearing high socks for Gordy MacKenzie

 

On Friday night, Astros affiliates at every level honored MacKenzie by wearing high socks.

Oklahoma City Redhawks (AAA):

RedHawks wear high socks for Gordy.

RedHawks wear high socks for Gordy.

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA):

Hooks wore high socks for MacKenzie

Hooks wore high socks for Gordy

Lancaster JetHawks (Class A Advanced)

JetHawks wore high socks for MacKenzie

JetHawks wore high socks for Gordy

Quad Cities River Bandits (Class A)

River Bandits wore high socks for Gordy

River Bandits wore high socks for Gordy

Tri-City ValleyCats (Class A short season)

ValleyCats wore high socks for Gordy

ValleyCats wore high socks for Gordy

Greeneville Astros (Rookie)

Greeneville Astros wore high socks for Gordy

Greeneville Astros wore high socks for Gordy

GCL Astros (Gulf Coast League – Rookie)

GCL Astros wore high socks for Gordy

GCL Astros wore high socks for Gordy

Dominican Summer League (Rookie)

Dominican Summer League wore high socks for Gordy

Dominican Summer League wore high socks for Gordy

Even Team Rehab participated in the tribute. All Astros players — major and minor league — rehabbing at the team’s facilities in Kissimmee, Florida, wore high socks for MacKenzie:

Astros Team Rehab wore high socks for MacKenzie

Astros Team Rehab wore high socks for MacKenzie

MacKenzie’s distinguished career in baseball began in 1956 when he was signed as an amateur free agent by the Kansas City Athletics. MacKenzie, who was a catcher, would make his Major League debut on August 13, 1961 (53 years ago today). After eight minor league seasons as a player, he would serve as a minor league manager at the Class A, Double A and Triple A levels for a combined 16 seasons, which included stints in the Washington (1966-67), New York-NL (1970-73), Montreal (1975-76), Kansas City (1977-79), Detroit (1983-85), San Francisco (1989) and Cleveland (1995) minor league systems. MacKenzie won the Carolina League Championship while managing Kinston in 1995 and later was inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Thank you to all our Astros affiliates and players for this wonderful and touching show of respect and admiration in MacKenzie’s memory.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

George Springer and Carlos Corporan Accept #IceBucketChallenge at Fenway

George Springer takes the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway (photo credit: Evan Drellich/Houston Chronicle)

George Springer takes the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway (photo credit: Evan Drellich/Houston Chronicle)

Boston — Astros OF George Springer had been nominated to accept the ALS #IceBucketChallenge so many times by current and former teammates, he really had no choice but to accept. Carlos Corporan had largely avoided the challenge until his compadre from Puerto Rico and former Astros teammate Kiké  Hernandez nominated him (and Springer) via Instagram on Thursday night. The rules dictate that once challenged, you have 24 hours to accept. (Except when the plan involves a giant Caterpillar truck which requires a bit more planning, like Orbit’s Ice Bucket Challenge acceptance).

Springer and Corporan accepted the challenge(s) before Astros batting practice at Fenway Park on Friday.

We’ve got video of the dual dousing courtesy of CSN Houston’s Julia Morales:

Springer and Corporan challenged teammates Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler as well as Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. Will they accept the challenge? Stay tuned!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.

Orbit Accepts the ALS #IceBucketChallenge in a BIG Way

Ice Bucket Challenge accepted!

Ice Bucket Challenge accepted!

You knew that our amazing mascot Orbit was going to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge from Tampa Bay Rays’ mascot Raymond to strike out ALS. It was just a question of when and how big to go. And if you know Orbit, you know that he only knows how to do things BIG. He is, after all, a mascot for a Texas team.

After a couple of days of planning (please forgive him, Raymond, for not accepting within the 24 hour window, there were a lot of logistics to arrange), Orbit headed to Mustang CAT in Houston for the ultimate Ice Bucket Challenge: Alien vs. Heavy Machinery.

 

Out of this world, right?

Here’s our best photo of Orbit being doused by hundreds of gallons of ice water by a Caterpillar 740B Articulated Truck.

Under an ice waterfall...

Under an ice waterfall…

 

If you’ve been following the Ice Bucket Challenge (and really, who hasn’t?), you’ll know that accepting the challenge is just one part of the process. The next step is to issue a challenge of your own to friends/teammates/frenemies/random people on the internet. Orbit calls out three people to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge.

First: Hashtag the Panda from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Orbit challenges Hashtag the Panda from the Tonight Show

Orbit challenges Hashtag the Panda from the Tonight Show

 

Next: Mets Bucket Hat Guy also from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Mets Bucket Hat Guy you're up!

Mets Bucket Hat Guy you’re up!

 

And finally, Orbit’s newest frenemy and trolling rival, Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia:

"J.P. Arencibia, your move!"

“J.P. Arencibia, your move!”

 

In case you missed it, Dallas Keuchel and L.J. Hoes also accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge this week. To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.

We’ll keep you posted here on any further Ice Bucket Challenges and Orbit’s developing rivalry with Arencibia. Your move, Hashtag the Panda, Mets Bucket Hat Guy and J.P. Arencibia!

UPDATE: J.P. Arencibia accepted Orbit’s challenge within 24 hours! Here’s the video.

Well played, sir. Well played.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

Astros Take On the Green Monster

Hey fans, welcome back to Mission Control! The Astros start a three-city, 10-game, 11-day East Coast swing tonight in Boston with the first of a four-game series against the Red Sox. The team arrived in Boston last night and got to the ballpark early today so they could participate in a hallowed tradition — signing inside the Green Monster.

Basically, this blog post is just an excuse to share photos from the tour of the ballpark inside the Monster.

So here we go:

Here’s outfielder Jake Marisnick, making his first ever trip to Fenway Park.

Jake Marisnick signs on his first visit to Fenway.

Jake Marisnick signs on his first visit to Fenway.

 

Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez:

Marwin Gonzalez takes his time signing the wall.

Marwin Gonzalez takes his time signing the wall.

 

Marwin shows off his signature

Marwin shows off his signature

 

Astros Gnome even got into the fun, though he couldn’t sign. The whole no opposable thumbs things is an issue.

#AstrosGnome inside the Monster!

#AstrosGnome inside the Monster!

 

#AstrosGnome also had some fun on the famous Fenway scoreboard.

#AstrosGnome hanging out on the scoreboard

#AstrosGnome hanging out on the scoreboard

 

More #AstrosGnome fun on the scoreboard

More #AstrosGnome fun on the scoreboard

The four-game series starts tonight at 6:10 pm and wraps up on Sunday afternoon. We’ll be sharing some more fun photos from the weekend here, on Twitter (@astros) and on Instagram (astrosbaseball).

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

 

Astros Keuchel and Hoes Accept #IceBucketChallenge to Strike Out ALS

Dallas Keuchel and L.J. Hoes each took the Ice Bucket Challenge. (Photo credit for Keuchel: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle)

Dallas Keuchel and L.J. Hoes each took the Ice Bucket Challenge to strike out ALS. (Photo credit for Keuchel: Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle)

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just arrived from another planet (welcome to Earth!), you’ve heard about or seen the #IceBucketChallenge, a viral movement to raise awareness for ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Celebrities, politicians, athletes and even team mascots have been dousing themselves with ice cold buckets of ice water over the past week and it’s impossible to go onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without seeing photos and videos posted.  The Astros are no exception, with LHP Dallas Keuchel and OF L.J. Hoes accepting the challenge this week.

Keuchel received his challenge from CSN Houston reporter Julia Morales and made good before Tuesday night’s Astros game. Of course we’ve got video.

 

Keuchel in turn challenged fellow Arkansas Razorbacks Patrick Beverley of the Rockets and his former college roommate Drew Smyly of the Rays. We have no word yet on whether any of them have accepted.

L.J. Hoes’ Special Connection to ALS

While most athletes and celebrities take the challenge out of a desire to help the ALS cause (and because they don’t want to disappoint a friend), the motivation for Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes go much deeper. The Ice Bucket Challenge has an extra significance because Hoes’ grandfather, Charles Eguster Hoes, died two years ago — on August 16, 2012 —  from complications related to ALS. Hoes was 78 and had been suffering from the debilitating disease for several years before it was finally diagnosed.

“It was pretty advanced.” Hoes said of his grandfather’s condition before getting soaked with the ice water. “They kept misdiagnosing it and he was getting hip surgeries. Then they realized it was nerves and it was too late.”

Hoes’ grandfather passed away just months after his diagnosis, as L.J. was coming up through the Orioles’ system. L.J. knew that the latest viral craze was something he had to do.

“When I heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge, I wanted to do it for my grandfather,” Hoes said.

Hoes got the chance when a former baseball teammate A.J. Lee challenged him via Instagram. L.J. accepted in the comments and was honor-bound by the Ice Bucket Challenge code to make good on his promise within 24 hours.

And here’s video of Hoes’ Ice Bucket Challenge at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday before the Astros-Twins game:

 

If you can’t quite hear it in the video, Hoes challenged several Astros teammates — fellow outfielders Dexter Fowler and George Springer, first baseman Jon Singleton, relievers Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls and pitcher Brad Peacock. We’ll keep you posted on the status of any future Ice Bucket Challenges for the team.

We’ve also got L.J.’s Instagram video of the challenge — in two parts:

Part 1:

Part 2:

To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

 

Same lucky fan catches both of Chris Carter’s home runs!

What are the odds of coming to your first baseball game at a new ballpark and catching a home run ball? Not too good, right? What about catching two home run balls? Even more unlikely. What about two home run balls hit BY THE SAME BATTER IN THE SAME GAME? Astronomical, right?

Meet Tim Pinkard of Springfield, VA.

This lucky fan caught both of Carter's home runs!

This lucky fan caught both of Carter’s home runs!

Pinkard is visiting his in-laws in the Houston area and came to Tuesday night’s Astros-Twins game, his first ever at Minute Maid Park. The Astros beat the Twins, 10-4, thanks in large part to Chris Carter’s two home runs — a two-run bomb in the third to give the Astros a 3-1 lead and a three-run shot in the 5th to break the game open. Pinkard caught not one but two home run balls off Carter’s bat, both shots to the left field Crawford Boxes. By the way, Chris Carter now has 28 home runs this season and 6 multi-homer games. That ties an Astros franchise record (Lance Berkman, 2006).

“I’m visiting my in-laws in Conroe and wanted to come to a game at Minute Maid Park,” Pinkard said, wearing his Astros shirt and hat. “The first one bounced off the Lexus sign to me. The second one came to me in my seat.”

Check out Carter’s first bomb in the third inning, which bounced off the Lexus Community Leaders sign and into Pinkard’s hands in the front row:

Here’s his second shot, which barely cleared the left field wall and once again found Pinkard:

What are the chances? We have to say they are astronomical. We think Pinkard should come to more Astros games. And also go and play the lottery.

UPDATED: We invited Tim and his family to the game today (Wednesday),  Tim’s wife Elyssa and daughters Tatum, 5, and Brooke, 4 joined Tim on the field before the game. Everybody had a blast.

 

The happy Pinkard family with Orbit

The happy Pinkard family with Orbit

 

As a bonus, Tim and his family had a chance to meet Chris Carter.

"Hi Chris, thanks for hitting two home runs last night!"

“Hi Chris, thanks for hitting two home runs last night!”

 

Carter autographed both of the baseballs he hit to the Crawford Boxes on Tuesday night.

Lucky fan Tim Pinkard poses with his autographed Chris Carter home run balls

Lucky fan Tim Pinkard poses with his autographed Chris Carter home run balls

 

Isn’t baseball just the best?

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

Orbit vs. J.P. Arencibia: The Trolling

…for whom the mascot trolls;
It trolls for thee, J.P. Arencibia.

It all started innocently enough on Saturday night during game two of the Rangers-Astros Lone Star Series game at Minute Maid Park. Orbit (the Astros’ mascot, in case you’re just joining us — welcome and hello!) was hanging out behind the Rangers’ on-deck circle. As he is wont to do, our favorite resident fuzzy alien was doing his best to distract an opposing batter — this time it was Rangers’ catcher J.P. Arencibia. No big deal. Just typical mascot shenanigans, right? Well, it was until Arencibia responded. By hitting Orbit in his “asteroids” with the bat.

Here’s video of the incident in the on-deck circle on Saturday night:

Arencibia struck out — one of six strikeouts by Astros’ starter Scott Feldman en route to the team’s 8-3 win over our in-state rivals. But simply seeing Arencibia strike out wasn’t enough for Orbit. Oh no. Revenge would be his.

The shenanigans continued on Sunday, when Orbit set up shop for “Yoga class” next to the Rangers during pre-game warmups. Orbit’s pre-game shenanigans are getting to be quite a must-see event (see this recent encounter with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista).

Orbit teaches yoga class to the Rangers

Orbit teaches yoga class to the Rangers

A Rangers player came over and slapped the sign off the easel and proceeded to smack Orbit in the rear end with the sign. Who was that Rangers player? NONE OTHER THAN J.P. ARENCIBIA.

Video evidence of Arencibia’s antics:

Ladies and gentlemen, IT. IS. ON.  Let the Arencibia trolling begin. In full force.

The battle heated up with Arencibia’s first appearance in the on-deck circle in Sunday’s game in the top of the second inning.

J.P. Arencibia probably did cry during The Notebook

J.P. Arencibia probably did cry during The Notebook

The sign worked. Arencibia grounded out to first base against Astros’ starter Dallas Keuchel. SUCCESS. And #JPArencibiaSigns were born.

In the top of the 4th inning, with Arencibia on deck and the Rangers trailing the Astros 2-1, Orbit had another sign ready. This one accused Arencibia of something unspeakably terrible:

"Did you just double-dip that chip, J.P.?"

“Did you just double-dip that chip, J.P.?”

Arencibia’s next at bat came in the 6th inning with the Rangers leading 5-2. Orbit broke out not one, not two, but THREE signs for Arencibia’s on-deck appearance:

Three signs for three times the on-deck fun!

Three signs for three times the on-deck fun!

Apples for trick-or-treaters? Terrible. LOSING NEMO? How could you? But I did giggle at the idea of the Rangers’ catcher owning a teacup pig named Elvis (presumably after Presley, not Andrus).

Arencibia reached on an error in that plate appearance but was 0 for 4 on the day. The Rangers won, 6-2, snapping the Astros’ seven-game win streak in the Battle for the Silver Boot.

And just in case you wanted more Orbit vs. Arencibia or photos aren’t your thing, here’s video of all of Orbit’s trolling signs:

That video was originally going to be the end of the post, but Orbit received a nice surprise on Twitter after the game. Arencibia posted the following tweet:

Okay that’s pretty cool of J.P. Thanks for playing along. I wonder what Orbit will have in store for the rematch when the Rangers visit Minute Maid Park again August 28-31. Until next time…

P.S. As long as we’re talking Orbit trolling, please enjoy this genius trolling of Adrian Beltre (Beltre had his revenge in the 6th inning with a solo home run).

- Amanda

@amandarykoff

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