Since Bleacher Report is such a distinguished blog, I must presume that Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane reads it, especially the postings that appear in the sports section of the Houston Chronicle . Perhaps he's reading this very post, thinking to himself, "What kind of a writer uses a weird name like Zoe-wee? Is that a pen name?"
The original German surname Zahnweh was changed to Zowie around 100 years ago (don't ask; my grandfather—who passed away in 1994—was never much of a talker), but Zowie (rhymes with "Howie", as in Howie "OCD Baldy" Mandel of Deal or No Deal ) is my real surname.
That being said, I have some advice for McLane.
Astros fans are wondering what's in store for the team's pitching this season. Will Houston have a strong staff headlined by Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez? Will Houston, in desperation, call Bob Knepper out of retirement? Will Houston's bullpen find reliable setup men and closers?
How will Matt Lindstrom or Brandon Lyon do? Will they make Houston forget about Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins, or will they conjure up memories of Jim Clancy and Mitch Williams?
How about Bud Norris? Will he throw any roundhouse fastballs and earn a spot in the starting rotation?
If only Houston could file a petition with Major League Baseball to prohibit opposing hitters from swinging their bats at pitches or to count intentional-walk pitches as strikes.
Houston has been trying to solve its pitching problems, no doubt. Last year, it seemed opposing hitters couldn't wait to play against Houston. It had nothing to do with the warm Gulf coast, paying their respects to the late, great Marvin Zindler, or visiting the fine attractions of Houston, but it had everything to do with teeing off against Astros' pitching. This has to be fixed.
Since the Astros are in their 45th season of existence, maybe they could solve their pitching problem with a little nostalgia.
How about playing a third of the team's home games in the Astrodome?
Yes, it would be very inconvenient to travel to the city's South Loop 610 to play next to Reliant Stadium and the Big Lot Formerly Known As Astroworld. And it would be a hemorrhoid worthy of a giant mound of Preparation H to get the Dome cleaned up and ready for baseball, but wouldn't it be worth it?
We remember that the Astrodome was a pitcher's paradise: before the fences were shortened in the 1990s to be more hitter friendly, the 330 foul poles, 380 power alleys, and 400 to straightaway center made for some very long outs. Then there was the lack of carry in fly balls, which turned 400-foot home runs in other parks to 380-foot outs.
Doesn't Houston's pitching staff need all the help it could get? Just think of all the home runs that'll be saved and the runs that won't be scored by opponents. It's possible power hitters like Albert Pujols will cower in their clubhouse locker and blubber like Tom Green after reading Freddy Got Fingered film reviews rather than venture out into the Dome for a game.
Besides the Dome, all Houston needs are fleet-footed outfielders with decent arms to chase down the long fly balls. Michael Bourn's a step in the right direction.
Drayton's bound to roll his eyes and post a reply of "Whatever" below, but it's a thought. I want the Astros' pitching to succeed, and a 315-foot short porch in left field can be a liability. If only Houston could eliminate Crawford Street and push the Crawford boxes to where the left-field foul pole was about 335 feet from home plate.
Or, at the very least, set up giant fans in center field under the guise of air circulation and turn them on when the visiting team's up to bat...
Richard Zowie's a Bleacher Report blogger and longtime Houston Astros fan. He refuses to buy any 'Stros merchandise until the team comes to its senses and returns to its blue-and-orange glory days. Post comments here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .