I’m very grateful that I was able to visit my 2nd major league ballpark today, Minute Maid Park in Houston (1st of course was the Ballpark in Arlington). I had a great time today with a few friends I work with. Free tickets always make the game better. We sat on the right field side on the “club level”. Note that you CAN’T bring alcohol up there, you have to buy your drinks once you are in the doors on that level. Something we found out the hard way. I was forced to down my 8 dollar beer while the girls had to suck down their 11.50 margaritas. I followed the tradition of having a beer and a hot dog there. Actually, it was 3 beers. Anyways…
The Astros beat the Phillies 4-3 on this Labor Day. It was a day game, game time 1:05, attendance of 29,040. I got to see Ryan Howard bomb a 445 footer to left center followed by Ibanez homering to right field. I was looking forward to seeing Howard stroke one. Pence also went yard. The winning run turned out to be a bases loaded walk. The Astros actually swept the 1st place Phillies going 4-0 against them. Game time was 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Here’s where I was a little disappointed. This is the first “covered” game I’ve been to (I guess it’s not technically a dome). It was pretty hot today, probably about 90-95 degrees, and sitting in the AC in there where it was around 70 the entire game made it nice and cool, and you didn’t have to squint your eyes much because the sun was blocked out. BUT, it wasn’t the same. I can understand shutting the roof if it’s raining or if it’s over 100. But I say play as many games under the sun as possible. I asked a guy how often they left it open, he said it’s pretty rare–usually some in April but not much more than that. Why exactly do I not like it covered? Well, for one thing, being out in a bright, sunny day, exposed to the sky, it just adds to the spirit of the game. When players point to the sky to thank God, there’s not a man-made roof between them and Him. I can’t explain it much better than that–I’m a religious person, and I find peace and truth in being closer to the natural elements. Second, the opposite argument of that. Being indoors today felt artificial instead of genuine. Having all that cool air pumped in there and using artificial lights where it was much dimmer in there than outside, I felt like I was in a movie theater or something. I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I think players would enjoy playing outdoors also. I know I would at least. Then again, they play 162 games in a season, so they might welcome a chance to have a few here and there under the AC without having to battle the sun.
There are a few more beefs I had with that park. Behind left field looks like it had to be crammed into a certain area. It’s kinda cool to see downtown Houston in the backdrop, but I hated seeing 2 home runs being hit off that brick wall out there. I’d like to be able to see the balls go farther, have some more space out there. Also, Tal’s hill in center field and the flagpole in play in center. I know those have both been a part of baseball history, but I’m just not a fan of it. I think it makes the park look like they’re trying too hard to be different from the other ones. I do like how center field is so deep though, 436 feet, the farthest in the majors. It’s nice to see pitchers at least get a break at this park in today’s game. I am glad I was able to experience a new park today, and I might be a little biased since I’ve been going to Arlington since I was a kid, but I just think Ameriquest blows Minute Maid out of the water. I mean, if I gave Arlington, which I absolutely love, an 8 on a 10 point scale, I’d probably give Houston a 4. But, I’ve still got a long ways to go as far as experiencing other MLB parks.