When the Houston Astros opened Minute Maid Park in 2000 (then known as Enron Field before *that* happened), there was an interesting quirk in a park full of them. That quirk was the inclusion of a 90 foot wide inclined hill in center field known as Tal's Hill, in reference to former team president Tal Smith. The hill is thought of as absolutely ridiculous in 2012, and the center field fence behind the hill (436 feet away from home plate) is just way too far out. However, there may be a savior in the form of new Astros owner Jim Crane, along with the new regime he's put into play.
During an interview on Thursday night, Crane dropped this minor bombshell.
He also said the Astros are soliciting fans’ opinions on the future of Tal’s Hill in center field and that fans have said “they don’t see a lot of sense in having that 436(-foot fence) in center. We’re looking at a design that would incorporate some other things out there. We could use that space for a lot of different things.”
Yes. Yes. Yes. Oh god, YES. The Astros don't *need* to get rid of the hill totally. They could just move the outfield fence in front of it, keeping the ridiculous hill in the ballpark, but not in play. They could do whatever they need to do to smooth the hill out, throw the fence in front of it, and put god knows what in it's spot behind the fance…but considering that the batter's eye in center field needs to remain clear, there isn't a ton they can do.
One thing is for sure: the hill needs to go. Astros outfielders generally aren't fans of it, but they realize that having a center field fence 20 to 30 feet closer to the field would be detrimental to their pitchers. On the other hand, Houston's pathetic offense would get a nice boost as well, and their center fielders wouldn't have to worry about a ridiculous lowlight on their career reel, or possibly even an injury.
But hopefully, this is the last season we're going to see the hill, and that Mike Trout isn't going to have to contend with that nonsense in 2013 when the Astros move to the AL West.