So How Much Do You Really Know About the Astros and the DH?

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There has been a strange uproar over the Astros' possible move to the American League. There's been whining over start times, bitching about Bud Selig and much, much discussion about the designated hitter not being real baseball. And while people are upset, it needs to be noted that the Astros aren't the first such team to switch leagues or conferences.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, the fifth-oldest team in NFL history, switched to the newly formed AFC to help ease the merger with the AFL and to provide for an even number of teams in each conference. After the Steelers agreed to switch, the Colts and Browns also agreed. When the Texans joined the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks moved from the AFC to the NFC. The Houston Rockets moved from the NBA's Eastern Conference to the Western Conference when the Dallas Mavericks joined the NBA. And yes, the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the American League to the National League.

Now since I'm not actually convinced that everybody actually understands the history of the designated hitter, or of the Houston Astros pre-Minute Maid Park, I've devised a little quiz. Have fun.

1. Many people think of the DH as a modern-day creation. But the concept actually dates back to 1906 and was the idea of what Hall-of-Fame manager and owner? And which league actually considered adopting it in 1929?

2. For you traditionalist types, answer this: What was the height of the mound in 1968? What is it now? And why did they change it?

3. How many non-DH leagues are there in amateur and professional (non-independent league) baseball?

4. After what season were the Astros sold to William Collins? Where was he going to move the team? Who was the then Astros owner? And what commissioner vetoed the move, pending a Houston referendum on a new stadium?

5. The Colt-45s/Astros were not Houston's original major league franchise. In 1959, Houston was announced as one of the founding members of the Continental League, which was going to be the third major league. Who was the owner of this franchise, and who was the league president?

6. Who is the only pitcher to toss multiple no-hitters while in an Astros uniform?

7. Who is the only person to manage a team to a World Series win to have played for the Astros?

8. What former Astro did Nolan Ryan nail for his 3,000th strikeout? And who was the victim of Ryan's record-setting 3,509th strikeout?

9. The top four starters of the Astros' 1986 NL West winning rotation were acquired through either free agency or by trade. Name the four starters, and tell how they were acquired.

10. In 1992, despite the recommendations of the Astros scouting staff, the Astros drafted Phil Nevin with the number one pick. What Hall-of-Famer-to-be did the scouting staff recommend?

11. This Houston Astro player was the first player to hit for the cycle in both leagues. He's also known for scoring MLB's one-millionth run. Plus, name the Astro who knocked him in for the one-millionth run.

12. Who hit the first regular-season home run in the Astrodome?

13. Who pitched the last no-hitter at the Astrodome?

14. This former Astros pitcher is the last non-position player to start as Designated Hitter.

15. The Astros played a key role in what scandalous nonfiction account of life in major league baseball?

16. Name the five Astros to have homered into the upper-deck seats of the Astrodome?

17. There is a huge uproar over the Astros having to play late night games on the West Coast should they move to the AL West. How many games did the Philadelphia Phillies play in the Mountain Time Zone and Pacific time zone this past season? How many did the Astros play in the Mountain and Pacific time zones this season? How many did they play in 1980?

18. Who taught Mike Scott to throw the split-finger fastball?

19. Who did the Astros sign as a free agent to replace Nolan Ryan in the starting rotation in 1989?

20. Who is the Astros' all-time leader in stolen bases?

ANSWERS after the jump:

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I don't think the Astros were actually sold to Collins. He and McLane had a deal, but McLane walked when he got the money to build what is now Minute Maid Park


Fun quiz, but what's the point?  Unlike the NFL or NBA there are actual cultural differences between leagues/conferences.  The Astros have 50 years of NL tradition, preceded by another 30 years in which the Buff's were a NL farm team. 

There are plenty of other candidates that make more sense to move.  Namely the Brewers (whose move in the late '90s created the numerical disparity MLB is looking to solve in the first place).  Or the Diamondbacks, who are one of the youngest franchises in baseball. 

Tossing out random trivia questions of varying mundanity, while fun for someone like me, entirely misses the point.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

As a casual baseball fan, I'm curious... what are the cultural differences between the NL and AL?


There's a long history of largely outdated generalizations:  the National League is fastballs, speed and defense, the American League is curveballs, station-to-station baseball and three run homeruns. 

Administratively, the two leagues had separate offices for the bulk of MLB's history.  That's why they are different "leagues," rather than different "conferences." 

A lot of that is water under the bridge, but the most significant cultural difference is the DH.  The fact that the two leagues play under a different set of rules can't be discounted.

Culturally for the Astros, there's a 50 year history of playing teams like the Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Mets, etc... that would be simply rebooted to suit MLB's quixotic desire for two 15 team leagues. 

I don't really understand why two 15 team leagues is desirable, since MLB specifically avoided that reality by moving the Brewers to the National League in the nineties.  Logistically speaking, with two 15 team leagues there would have to be inter-league play ever day of the season, which is kind of annoying too.  Basically, it's eroding the notion of two different "leagues" in favor of two different "conferences."   

Jim C
Jim C

I can see why the divisions should be evened out, though.  It must be really difficult for the second-place team in the six-team division to catch a break and win it all.

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