Friday, July 27, 2007
Day 33: Minute Maid Park
All photos of Minute Maid Park available on Flickr.
Today was a very short drive into Houston since we drove most of the way last night, only about a hour. I knew from weather reports from the past week and just general knowledge of the city that it's pretty much either 95 degrees or pouring rain in Houston, and we found the latter to be true on this particular day. We arrived into gloomy downtown a little after noon and took care of the previous day's blog, and also worked on flyers for the evening's game and made another deposit. We have now raised close to $900 - a bit behind schedule for our goal, but still a good amount. We would be unable to raise any money tonight since the Astros are only allowing us to pass out leaflets, but we already received a $20 contribution from our friend Brent to put towards Houston HFH.
They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and this was true in every sense of the word in Houston as well. The freeway is 12 lanes wide, there are two downtowns, and the stadium is HUGE - it takes up nearly six city blocks, is 436' to center field, and the roof is enormous. It even engulfs some of the old Union Station, which is where we met Rayna Gonzalez around 4 PM to get set up for fundraising. Being at the park so early allowed us to walk around the stadium a bit and catch some BP. Each of us got a BP homerun and we got to look at all the Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio display cases around the park. We successfully handed out all of the flyers at our booth about a half hour early and spent some time chatting it up with the Operation School Supplies and Houston Zoo people who were next to us before first pitch rolled around.
We took our free "GA" seats in the right field bleachers and had a pretty decent view of the field. The park has a lot of interesting amenities and features. The field itself has tons of jogs and nooks and even has a hill in center field, making it definitely one of the more uniquely shaped parks in the country. The Crawford Boxes and Home Run Alley in left field are both great places to watch the game. There is the infamous train that runs back and forth on a 100' track in left field, which symbolizes the founding of the west via the railroad. There are also tons of team shops and every kind of food you could possibly imagine - I myself had hot dog that measured about 2" in diameter and close to a foot long. The one thing you notice right away of course, both here and in Arlington, is the prominence of the Texas flag and just a general loyalty and love of the state that is unmatched anywhere else in the country. A contingency of Texas joining the union after it was briefly its own republic was that it has the right to fly the Texas flag at the same height as the American flag, if the Stars and Stripes is even flown at all. From tattoos to flags to apparel, there is a special connection here with the people and their state, and this could not be more evidenced than in the singing of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" during the 7th inning stretch, from which the clapping is always deafening and in unison.
The game was one-sided from the very onset. David Wells, who we were both very excited to see pitch, was apparently feeling the affects of his recent diet change and did not seem to be on his A-game. He surrendered 7 runs in 3 IP, including homeruns by Biggio, Lee, and Ensberg. Fan-favorite Craig Biggio, who recently announced his retirement after this season, collected two more hits and brought his total up to 3,019. Berkman and Biggio both also made spectacular plays in the field in support of Wandy Rodriguez, who gave up only 5 hits through 7 IP. Mike Cameron provided the lone run with an RBI double in the 1st inning.
Tonight was night #2 at the same rest stop, and we both look forward to showering and shaving on Friday. Tomorrow we make a quick stop for oil change #2, and then start our trek back north and are making a stop in Oklahoma City to see a AAA game before heading to Missouri for the weekend.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 9
views from park - 3 (can't really see out except a bit in left)
view to field - 6
surrounding area - 5 (relatively close to downtown)
food variety - 9
nachos - 9 (many crushed chipin's at the bottom)
beer - 5 (decent variety, souvenir bottles, but high price)
vendor price - 5
ticket price - 10 (ours were free)
atmosphere - 6
walk to park - 3
parking price/proximity - 8 (parked three blocks away on the street for free)
concourses - 8
team shop - 9
best food - steak dog
most unique stadium feature - train
best jumbotron feature - teammates interview each other
best between-inning feature - "Deep in the Heart of Texas" at 7th inning stretch
field dimensions - 315/434/320
starters - David Wells (SD) v. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)
opponent - San Diego Padres
time of game - 2:19
attendance - 33720
score - 7-1 W
Brewers score that day - 6-5 L