Thanks to a “Fun Flight” on Southwest Airlines, I arrive at Houston Hobby airport about 45 minutes before the first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. Although this is a tight schedule, I will still complete one of my ongoing missions to visit every Major League Baseball Park in the country.
Following the signs for “Ground Transportation”, I find the local bus stop and wait for Bus No. 88 to arrive. Preparing to put $2.00 in the fare meter, I am asked by the bus driver, “Don't you have a quarter?” I respond “No” and unexpectedly get a discount. Instead of paying the $1.25 bus fare or $26 for a taxi, I am headed to downtown Houston for a buck.
Arriving in downtown, I exit Bus No.88 near Stop One. From here it is about a ten block walk to the stadium, less than twenty minutes.
Starving after a long day of work and travel, my prayers are answered by a neon sign across an empty parking lot. My introduction to downtown Houston is complete with a slice of pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage and vegetables from Franks Pizza.
With just the right amount of grease, it is delicious.
From a few blocks away I can hear the excitement of the game already underway inside the stadium. A quick stop at the Left Field Ticket Booth and for US$5.00 I have just bought myself entertainment for the next two to three hours.
Minute Maid Park is a modern stadium with a retractable dome that comes in pretty handy especially during the months of July and August when it is “Texas Hot”. Tonight it is open as it is a beautiful and cool evening to watch balls and strikes under the lights.
Although the stadium is practically empty the crowd is still enthusiastic even if the majority of them are Cubs fans. This is not good for the Astros who are struggling with the bats.
However, there are still a few hometown favorites that get their share of applause and appreciation from the Astro fans.
Not a sport to watch for everyone but one of the things I like about baseball is the pace at which it moves. With no time limit, excitement in the game usually comes in short burst. A double play, strike out or home-run always energizes the crowd then it may be minutes or not until the next inning or two that something exciting happens.
“Popcorn, here, Popcorn!” “Ice Cold, Beer!”
If the game itself is not entertaining enough for you then the other stadium offerings like “The Kiss Cam” or “Air Guitar” will be sure to bring laughter or the faintest of smiles.
Time for the “The 7th Inning Stretch” and the Astros can really use the motivation as they are still trailing the Cubs. I guess they have had their share of:
“It's 1,2, 3 Strikes, You're Out!”
Or maybe they are just showing the Cubs some Texas hospitality by letting them win.
I get my share of Texas hospitality at the Fan Accommodation booth where I am given a “First Time Visitor” certificate.
Maybe a hat and boots are next.