Last Friday evening, Nick and Marie treated Grams and Grandad to an Astros game. It was Aggie night at Minute Maid Park, so we all got Aggie/Astros caps and bags. Marie's brother Artie, and his girlfriend Claudia, joined us for a fun evening. Artie is a Braves fan, so that made things more interesting.
I should start by telling you that I am not a baseball fan. I mostly enjoyed baseball when Nick played little league. And I say mostly because, well, you know how youth sports are. There were those overly aggressive fathers who sometimes reduced their own kids to tears and the over-enthusiastic mothers who spoiled the fun for everyone. But, mostly I enjoyed it. I'm a huge fan of Americana and, what's more American than baseball? Plus, I loved the innocence of the kids. It didn't really matter if they won or lost. All that mattered to them was that everybody got a snow cone at the end of the game.
Years ago we would take the kids to Astroworld at least once a year and often try to take in a game at the Astrodome. There was always something special about that first view of the field when you walked into the Astrodome. But after professional baseball players went on strike twice in the 1980s, professional baseball just sort of lost its charm for me. After all, these are grown men who play a game for a living and get paid millions of dollars. I have a lot of trouble working up any sympathy for either the players or the owners. It just left a bad taste in my mouth and I just sort of lost interest.
So last Friday night's trip to the Astros-Braves game was our first visit to Minute Maid Park. I knew that the park had a retractable roof. Therefore I assumed that, since it was a very warm, sunny day, the roof would be open and we would be sweltering in the Texas heat. Not so. I was delighted and surprised to see that the roof was closed and the stadium was air conditioned. Yippee! We sat near first base in cool comfortable seats.
There are a wide variety of food vendors available at Minute Maid Park. We had Papa John's Pizza. It was pricey ... three personal size pizzas cost almost $30, but I do love me some Papa John's Pizza. Nick had a burger and fries and half of my pizza. I was disappointed that I didn't find Minute Maid Light Lemonade at any of the vendors near us. It's so hard to find non-carbonated drinks with little or no sugar in public venues. I thought, since this was Minute Maid Park, they would have a wide variety of Minute Maid products available. If they did, I didn't find it. I also didn't find iced tea, so I drank water. Later in the game I had a bag of pistachios which were also expensive, but very tasty.
We sat in the lower level right near first base about 30 rows back. The seats were surprisingly spacious and comfortable. As I said, I'm not a baseball aficionado, but I've been to a few arenas and stadiums for other events. Comparatively speaking, these seats were among the roomiest I've seen. Keep in mind that Grandad is 6'5" tall requiring an ample amount of leg room. There was enough even for him.
It wasn't a competitive game; the Astros lost miserably but it was fun. The other fans around us were engaging which made it a communal experience. As far as I'm concerned that's the only reason to attend a sporting event instead of watching on TV. The two young men who sat in front of us (there is a photo of them above) were particularly nice and friendly. And, since it was Friday night, there were fireworks. That meant, we got to witness the opening of the retractable roof, which was surprisingly fast. I wish I had timed it ... I would estimate it took around 15 minutes. The MLB info page for Minute Maid Park site says it opens and closes in 12-20 minutes which would make my estimate right on target. It was interesting to watch it open and it's also interesting to note that there is a person who "rides" the roof on the left field side as it opens. The zoom on my camera is not powerful enough to pick it up ... I could barely see him myself. Marie had to point him out to me.
I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm sold on professional baseball again, but I would definitely go again. Minute Maid Park alone is worth the trip.