Designing for the worst team in baseball

The Houston Astros have certainly had an interesting season, if not completely successful. SND asked Jason Baum, lead sports designer at the Houston Chronicle, to share some of his season highlights.

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Three strikes, you’re out

This cover focused on the Astros’ record setting strikeouts in a three game span. They struck out 43 times in three games. I worked with the sports editor Nick Mathews and deputy sports editors Reid Laymance and Jay Lee and we came up with the idea using 43 Ks as the main image. We toyed with using a big K and smaller Ks around it and similar ideas. Each K had the info of the opposing pitcher, Astros batter, game (1, 2 or 3) and the inning. We used the photo of Justin Maxwell to anchor the package, as he was the last Astros to strikeout. It would have been even better if he wore #43 or they had struck out one more time.

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First place

This one might become a collector’s item. It’s from the first game of the MLB season where the Astros beat the Rangers. With the win they were in first place for the first and only time of the season. We had a special Opening Day cover and three more pages of coverage. Came up with the idea, nothing new, of building a scoreboard at the top. Worked with the sports editors and photo editor to pick out the photo.

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One year later

On the anniversary of Philip Humber’s perfect game, he couldn’t record more than 1 out. I used the scoreboard again to show the big innings the Indians had. I also created a chart to illustrate how Humber’s 1/3 inning went. This was our inside “normal” sports cover because the Rockets were playing the Thunder in the playoffs.

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Rebuilding year

This was the cover for the day after the trade deadline. Bud Norris got traded to the Orioles leaving the Astros with youth. The story and column focused on rebuilding of the Astros. The thought was to illustrate Norris is gone and these are the young players to lead the young team. I tried a few different arrangements (the four photos down either side or across the top) of the main Norris photo and the 4 younger player photos.

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Refresh

The main theme of the Astros preview was how they are in complete rebuild/makeover mode with  both the team and the new logo(s). I came up with the idea (with the Astros under construction, have a crane bring in the new logo in as it’s being built) for the illustration but Ken Ellis, our designer/illustrator, executed the illustration.

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A powerful portrait

This story was on Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes’ past and tattoos. Photographer Smiley Pool took this beautiful portrait of Barnes before a home game. I wanted to design something simple so that the photo would carry the page. I threw on a simple border that I made up from different brush strokes in Illustrator.