I’m pretty sure there’s a rule that every baseball player’s child is adorable. And the Astros’ kids are no exception. Sunday was the annual Astros Family Field Day. Each year on one Sunday, the Astros Foundation invites the players and their families to join them on the outfield at Minute Maid Park to basically just run around and be adorable. Mission accomplished.
Families and players who were out on the field today included Dexter Fowler, Jesse Crain, Chad Qualls, Carlos Corporan, Matt Albers, Marwin Gonzalez, Marc Krauss, Alex Presley, Collin McHugh, bullpen catchers Javier Bracamonte and Carlos Munoz, strength and conditioning coach Jake Beiting, head athletic trainer Nate Lucero and clubhouse manager Carl Schneider.
Here are some of my favorite photos from today. I had so many to choose from and they were all fantastic. I wish I could share them all.
Here are little Tiffany Corporan and Ava Krauss. I mean, come on.
Bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte pitching to his daughter Jaelyn:
Marwin and Noel Gonzalez enjoy some father-daughter silliness:
The beautiful Fowler family — Dexter, Aliya and their daughter Naya Iman with grandma (Dexter’s mother who is in town from Atlanta).
Marwin Gonzalez’s daughter Eliana is just too cute.
Jesse Crain and his family relax on the outfield grass:
Chad Qualls has a game of catch with his son at the warning track:
Marc and Ava Krauss — look at her blue and orange Astros bow!
Naya’s learning how to crawl on the grass so her daddy wanted to give her some pointers:
Getting some good hacks in…
Baby Fowler and Baby Qualls just hanging out…
Can’t get any better than that. Have a great rest of your holiday weekend!
If you’re reading this, you already know about the long-running, hilarious frenemy troll rivalry between our amazing mascot Orbit and the Rangers’ J.P. Arencibia. (If for some reason, you’re not, this post will bring you up to speed).
Heading into the third game of the final Lone Star Series in Houston, we all wondered what would be next in this ongoing saga. More signs? More photoshops? Hand to hand combat?
It turns out that Orbit has something else in mind before Saturday night’s game — an intervention.
Orbit had a seat saved for Arencibia, but would the Rangers’ catcher be amenable? Orbit waited patiently….
And after a few words were exchanged, it was time for the bros to hug it out. All is well.
Here’s video of tonight’s intervention.
Thanks to J.P. Arencibia for being such a good sport about this the entire time. Gotta love baseball. And mascots.
Now that Orbit and Arencibia have made peace, who will Orbit’s next victim be? Stay tuned.
It’s the Lone Star Series in Houston, which means that it’s time once again for another installment of your favorite mascot trolling adventure — Orbit vs. J.P. Arencibia.
For those of you just joining us, it started earlier this month at the last Lone Star Series at Minute Maid Park. The Rangers’ catcher/first baseman poked Orbit in the asteroids with a bat and Orbit retaliated with signs and various other mascot-related shenanigans. Here’s the full hilarious blog post with all the details. If you don’t have the time or energy to click on the link, here are some highlights in photo collage form.
The rivalry continued when Orbit challenged Arencibia to the #IceBucketChallenge for ALS awareness….and the Rangers catcher responded! Here’s the full story including video.
In the weeks leading up to this final Lone Star Series weekend showdown in Houston, we knew that the two would be plotting their next steps. What would the weekend have in store?
On Friday, before the second game of the series, J.P. Arencibia tweeted the following:
— jp arencibia (@jparencibia9) August 29, 2014
Ok fine. Just some good-natured Twitter taunting with a bad photoshop. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. The same image of Orbit in a Cowboys jersey appeared on the underground level at Minute Maid Park where both clubhouses are located. And then on Orbit’s door. Oh it was on.
Where are you???? pic.twitter.com/462KxcYn0c
— jp arencibia (@jparencibia9) August 29, 2014
How would Orbit exact his revenge? Well you know Orbit has one motto: go big or go home. During Rangers batting practice, when J.P. Arencibia stepped into the cage, this happened on El Grande (the giant scoreboard in center field).
— Houston Astros Orbit (@OrbitAstros) August 30, 2014
Yes, that is J.P. Arencibia’s face photoshopped into a Texans cheerleader’s face. Here’s a slightly better look at the visual:
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 29, 2014
Arencibia had to take a break from his batting because he was laughing so hard. Well played, Orbit.
During pre-game stretches, Orbit brought out a poster of the visual and Arencibia signed it, “To Orbit, with love, J.P. Arencibia.” That’s good stuff right there.
Here’s full video of the entire episode:
What will tomorrow hold? Stay tuned.
Howdy, folks. Welcome back to Mission Control, where we’ve got everything you need to know about our upcoming series at Minute Maid Park. The Astros continue their homestand tonight with the first of a four-game series against our in-state rival Rangers. It’s the final Lone Star Series in Houston this season. The Astros need just two wins to clinch the Silver Boot. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is simple: #DefendHouston.
To get you fired up, here’s the full version of Showdown at the Lone Star Corral. In this Western thriller, our hero Orbit looks to vanquish his Rangers rival and become the new sheriff in town. Watch:
Now here’s the full rundown of the four-game series:
Thursday, August 28 – 7:10 p.m. vs. Rangers
(Pitching matchup: Nick Tepesch vs. Collin McHugh)
$1 Hot Dog Thursday: We’ve only got two home Thursday games left this season (can you believe it?). Come on out tonight for $1 Hot Dogs — look for specially marked $1 Dog concession stands throughout the park.
Slotomania! The “Astros Fans Win with Slotomania Sweepstakes” continue tonight through Sunday. Astros fans will have the opportunity to win a grand prize of $5,000 at each of these four games! For more information on how to win, please visit http://www.astroswinsloto.com/.
Special food item on the club level: For the Texas series only, we have a new sandwich at the Club Bistro section 224. A carved prime rib sandwich on cheddar jalapeno hoagie with horseradish cream, fried onions and served au jus. Give it a try if you’re here!
Friday, August 29 – 7:10 p.m. vs. Rangers
(Pitching matchup: Scott Baker vs. Brett Oberholtzer)
In honor of the Lone Star rivalry, 10,000 fans will take home a Lone Star Series T-shirt, courtesy of Houston Methodist.
Prior to Friday’s 7:10 p.m. game, Astros Executive Advisor Nolan Ryan will host several Japanese restaurateurs and winners of a Nolan Ryan Beef promotion for a press conference. Yakiniku Den Restaurants, a Japanese-style BBQ restaurant chain headquartered in Osaka, Japan, recently completed a major promotion of Nolan Ryan Beef in their restaurants. The winners of this promotion, along with the restaurant managers, will be traveling to Houston to meet Nolan Ryan and attend Friday night’s ballgame as Ryan’s special guests.
Friday Night Fireworks: Big and Bright Friday Night returns with a postgame Friday Night Fireworks show, presented by Marathon Oil Corporation, following the conclusion of the game vs. the Rangers. This week’s show features a “movie magic” themed fireworks display.
Beer lovers? We’ve got you covered with two great options. Every Friday from 4:30-6:00 p.m. is St. Arnold Happy Hour, featuring $5, 12-ounce beers at the St. Arnold’s Bar in left field (behind Section 105). This Friday we’ve got live music by Samuel Barker. Note that if you’re coming to the ballpark early for Happy Hour, please enter the ballpark through the Left Field Gate. Union Station will be closed for a private event.
Also on Fridays, the Budweiser Patio behind center field serves Budweiser Day Fresh Draught, kegged and delivered the same day.
Saturday, August 30 – 6:10 p.m. vs. Rangers
(Pitching matchup: Mike Mikolas vs. Scott Feldman)
Astros Autograph Session at Texas Bay Area Credit Union with Chris Carter and Jose Cruz: Astros slugger Chris Carter, who was named AL Player of the Week earlier this month, will join Astros legend and Community Outreach Executive Jose Cruz for a free autograph session at Texas Bay Area Credit Union, located at 12611 Fuqua St., Houston, TX 77034 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Players subject to change.
Reid and Nolan Ryan
Reid and Nolan Ryan Bobblehead: The Astros and Rangers share the legacy of one of the greatest baseball families in the country, the Ryan family. Saturday’s giveaway will be a double bobblehead of Nolan and Reid Ryan, inspired by the iconic photo of the two (above) taken during Nolan Ryan’s time as an Astro. The Reid and Nolan bobblehead, presented by Houston Methodist, will be distributed to 10,000 fans.
AUTOGRAPHED BOBBLEHEADS: 50 lucky fans will receive bobbleheads signed by both Reid and Nolan! Here’s a photo of Nolan signing the bobbleheads this week at Minute Maid Park.
Saturday is also Chevy Military Appreciation Night at Minute Maid Park. The pregame ceremony will feature a military color guard, national anthem, and presentation of the American flag by 40 volunteers in uniform. Chevy will also be awarding a new home to a member of the military, mortgage-free, on the field before the game. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #ChevySupports.
Sunday, August 31 – 1:10 p.m. vs. Rangers
(Pitching matchup: Nick Martinez vs. Dallas Keuchel)
Post-game events on Sunday! On Sunday after the game we have a couple of post-game options for Astros fans.
Team USA vs. Team Canada at Minute Maid Park
Want more baseball? Team USA will play Team Canada as one of the matches of their 18u trials for the national team that will participate in international competition. Guests with tickets to the Astros/Rangers game will be allowed to stay for the USA/Canada game, but they will be asked to move down to the lower bowl. We anticipate first pitch at approximate 5:30 pm CT.
Z Tequila After Party at Flying Saucer
After the game, make your way over to Flying Saucer (705 Main Street), grab a drink and say hello to Astros Baseball Operations and Scouting personnel — including our Director of Decision Sciences, Sig Mejdal. This will be a casual gathering where Astros fans can meet Astros personnel and enjoy Z Tequila drink specials.
We look forward to seeing you at the ballpark to #DefendHouston!
Anybody in the Astros’ clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon before the team’s game against the A’s noticed several Astros players, including Jose Altuve, Dexter Fowler, Chad Qualls, Jon Singleton, Marwin Gonzalez and Marc Krauss, with hot pink t-shirts with the simple message across the front: “Save Raelyn.”
Qualls called me over to see how we could share the story of Raelyn Cutbirth, an adorable 4-year old girl suffering from Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare cancer of the soft tissue. Raelyn’s mother is friends with his wife, Tara.
“I want to raise awareness for that rare form of cancer,” Qualls said. “And for a little girl that’s in pain right now.”
Here is Raelyn’s story (warning: keep the Kleenex close by).
Raelyn Cutbirth is a sweet, kind, caring little girl who charms just about everybody who meets her. On July 19, 2012, two-year-old Raelyn was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare cancer of the soft tissue. For fifty-four weeks, Raelyn underwent chemotherapy and radiation. On June 6, 2013, it looked like she had fought off the disease. Raelyn’s scans showed no evidence of disease. However, because of the uncertainty of Rhabdomyosarcoma, Raelyn’s cancer could not be considered in remission until she remained symptom-free for five years.
On June 16, 2014, just days before her 4th birthday, Raelyn had her twelve-month check up. Her routine scans showed that the cancer had returned. Because Rhabdomyosarcoma is so rare, the doctors needed more resources to effectively treat the cancer. The doctors gave Raelyn a 10-20 percent chance of survival.
Despite this devastating news, Raelyn’s family refused to give up. On June 27, 2014, Raelyn started chemotherapy again to fight her cancer. However, because she received the maximum dose of radiation during her first round of treatment, she will not be able to get radiation treatment this time.
On July 17, the family received the devastating news that the tumor continued to grow and protruded inside Raelyn’s mouth, through the skin. The doctors have stopped chemotherapy because it was no longer working. Raelyn’s doctor’s decided to give her 3 1/2 weeks of radiation, strictly for palliative care.
As of August 4, 2014, Raelyn’s doctors discontinued radiation because it was not working. The tumor continued to grow quickly, and nothing can stop it. Raelyn’s parents were informed that Raelyn no longer has viable medical options and she has been released to hospice care. Her parents want her to enjoy as many moments as she can. No child should ever have to endure the horrible effects of cancer and the illness the treatments cause.
A Facebook page has been set up chronicling Raelyn’s battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma. https://www.facebook.com/SaveRaelyn/info.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the family pay for medical expenses accrued during this difficult time. Donations are accepted: http://www.gofundme.com/aqngwg.
Friends and family have organized a fundraiser on September 14 at the Cypress Saloon in Cypress, TX. Details are available on the Save Raelyn Facebook page.
We hope this post can help spread the word about this rare form of cancer and this little girl’s fight. Stay strong, Raelyn. The Astros will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.
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!
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).
Jose Altuve showed off his table tennis game. Oh yeah, he got mad table tennis skills. For real.
And they laughed with Chris DiStefano and Sway:
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:
Go Wig or Go Home, boys.
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!
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).
To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.
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.
On Friday night, Astros affiliates at every level honored MacKenzie by wearing high socks.
Oklahoma City Redhawks (AAA):
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA):
Lancaster JetHawks (Class A Advanced)
Quad Cities River Bandits (Class A)
Tri-City ValleyCats (Class A short season)
Greeneville Astros (Rookie)
GCL Astros (Gulf Coast League – Rookie)
Dominican Summer League (Rookie)
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:
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.
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!
To find out more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS or to donate, visit the ALS Association.