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Roof expected to be open for Game 3

HOUSTON -- Mankind's desire for shelter goes back to the days of the cave men. But Major League Baseball is sending signals it thinks the Houston Astros' desire for a roof over their heads has gone a little too far.

So commissioner Bud Selig is expected to decide personally that the roof of Minute Maid Park should be open for Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night.

The Astros have kept the retractable roof shut tight for all five of their postseason games over the first two rounds. But during the World Series, it's MLB's call. And MLB officials have told the Astros they prefer the great outdoors -- tropical storms permitting.

"That decision won't be made until [Tuesday]," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said during Monday's off-day workouts. "We want to take into account what the weather conditions will be at the time. And we want to look into past practices -- what's normally happened in the past. Our understanding is that the policy has been that when it's 80 degrees and warmer, the roof is closed. But when it's cooler, it's open."

The Astros, however, have had a different policy in October: When it's hot, the roof is closed. When it's cold, the roof is closed. And when it's in between, the roof is closed. To their credit, though, they haven't even tried to pretend that was done for any reason other than to increase their home-field advantage.

"Bottom line," said manager Phil Garner on Monday, "is that I think that with it closed, it does generate a lot of noise and it's a lot of fun. And I think that we play for that. We play for that excitement, and that noise -- it helps a little bit."

So how much has it helped? The Astros had the second-best home record in the sport (53-28) this year, trailing only Boston. And they have gone 4-1 at home during this postseason, losing only the game in which Brad Lidge allowed that game-winning two-out homer in the ninth to Albert Pujols in the NLCS.

But their winning percentage when the roof is open is only .577 (15-11) -- versus .684 (39-18) when it's closed (counting the postseason). (There were two other games this year in which the roof was opened during the late innings.)

The roof could wind up staying closed Tuesday for strictly meteorological reasons, however. The weather forecast predicts highs in the lower 70s, but lows in the mid-40s -- which is practically sub-arctic by Houston standards. Warmer conditions are expected for Games 4 and 5. So the whole debate could begin again.

The last time a retractable dome was involved in the World Series, MLB ordered the Diamondbacks to open their roof for all four games in 2001. But Courtney said Selig actually has no particular preference -- other than for consistency.

"The commissioner just wants to make sure there's a standard of practice involved," Courtney said, "so that what we've done in the past is done now and we're not breaking new ground."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.