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Home? Milwaukee far from it to Astros
The decision to move two of the three Cubs-Astros games affected by Hurricane Ike to Miller Park was a hot topic of debate Sunday night. Was it fair to make Houston play the Cubs in what's often referred to as "Wrigley North?" Was it the only realistic option Major League Baseball had?
The Astros believed there were indeed better alternatives, while the Cubs maintained they had no significant advantage.
Astros first baseman Lance Berkman said MLB "could have done a lot better job" in picking the neutral site for the makeup games.
"We could have gone to Atlanta, done something in Florida," he said. "In my opinion, there's more going on here than just getting two baseball games in. They could've gone any number of places. Heck, we could've played a doubleheader on Monday in Florida.
"The Cubs are a tough team, no matter where you play them. But we certainly would like to get them on more of a neutral field than in front of their home fans."
Berkman said he understands that revenue was involved in the decision. The Astros were said to have lost $3 million from the cancellation of games at Minute Maid Park.
"I know the owners are trying to make money," he said. "That's what they're in this business for. There certainly is going to be a much better gate here than at a neutral site. We're players. We're employees. We do what they tell us. We don't like it a lot of times, but we do it."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella didn't see what the fuss was about, saying both teams were inconvenienced by the move.
"You know, Houston was able to readjust their rotation," Piniella said. "We were willing to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Look, you can't do anything about the weather, and the Houston-Galveston area went through a lot with Hurricane Ike, and the important thing is that the area recovers and recovers quickly, and not too many people have to suffer for long periods of time.
"Those are the most important things. Outside of that, these ballgames are secondary in nature, [but] you had to get them in somewhere, and in this domed stadium, we'll be able to play. We would've gone anywhere to play these games."
Ryan Dempster said there are "not too many places" that are neutral when it comes to the Cubs, who have fans all across the country.
"We went to St. Louis, and there were a lot of Cubs fans there," he said.
"We have a lot of people behind us no matter where we're playing," Dempster said. "So for us we don't look at it like that. The Astros came to our park and swept us. So it's just a matter of playing baseball games. At times the fans can give you adrenaline, give you emotion, but at the same time it comes down to players executing."
But Houston manager Cecil Cooper agreed with Berkman, that the Cubs were given an unfair advantage.
"I am upset, but what are you going to do?" Cooper said. "I understand [the switch], but it's not something you're totally happy about."