By: Michael Hanley
The Houston Astros, to the delight of opposing center fielders, will remove Tal’s Hill before the 2016 season gets underway.
This is a move that has been long called for by opposing teams who has had complaints about the hill putting their starting center fielders in real danger for serious injury. Thankfully no significant injuries have occurred over the years to intimidate any center fielders from having to deal with the quirky hill in Minute Maid Park.
The plan calls for the hill to be removed and in turn, they will also move in the center field fence from its current distance of 436 feet to approximately 410 feet, still making home runs to dead center field very much a chore for any hitter, including the ones with plenty of home run power.
Also in the plan, it details using the space beyond the wall for concessions and fan friendly areas to be built for people who could then go and catch a game from a very unique perspective from center field and unlike any other seat in the whole stadium. The Astros will pay for the renovation of their center field area on their own.
In an era where player safety has come to the forefront of importance in all sports, especially baseball, removing the hill is very much a move that is needed in order to fully ensure the safety of center fielders who must man that position of the field and have to go back and possibly deal with the trickery of that hill when trying to catch a fly ball.
Now it does remove a unique part of this park and included having a flag pole that was part of the fair play boundary and in some regards you do not like to see that go by the wayside but all it would take is one significant injury to a player, especially a star player, because of Tal’s Hill ability to create an uproar and ruckus the likes not seen very often in the major leagues.
This is not to say that the Astros could not try and make up this lost, unique part of their park by not trying to add another quirky part to their ballpark, it just would have to be one that keeps the players worry free about getting hurt in any shape or form. Minute Maid Park still has its many original and markings that make it a stadium standout from the rest of the parks in baseball.
Tal’s Hill has had its time in the sun for many years and as with things in life they live out their stay and this change will ensure the Astros continue to stay up to date on the latest designs and specifications of what a stadium looks like and keep folks coming back to the stadium and having a fun and exciting experience that will make them want to continue to come back and support this franchise game in and game out.