Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Five: If they don't win, it's a shame...

First, some housekeeping: I'll be hitting the road with my family tomorrow morning for hot, blustery Oklahoma and Kansas. I'll have Internet some days, and I won't have Internet some days. (My prediction: I get quite a bit of writing done on the "non-Internet" days) Basically, expect posting to be somewhat erratic, but rest assured I'll be writing and updating as I can.

If I were to guess, I'd say that I'll have updates posted tomorrow and Saturday, then next Wednesday through Friday, and I'll double-post as necessary till we're all caught up.

Ah, vacation.

We'll be back in Houston late on the 5th, but I may wait until the 6th to resume regular posting (depending on how late on the 5th we get here)


Finally went to my first Astros game last night. I'm not particularly an Astros fan, but I do love going out to the ball park to catch a live game. There's no atmosphere in sports quite like it. It's a fairly relaxing and enjoyable way to take in an evening, and last night was no exception. Good thing, too, because I had so much stinking exposure to the sun and the 104-degree Houston afternoon yesterday that I was ready for something relaxing and pleasant by game time.

I went with WBW's unofficial baseball correspondent Dave, and we got upper-upper deck seats, hot dogs, drinks, and bags of chips for $10. Fantastic deal. Good hot dogs, too.

This was my first MLB game in...I dunno, eight years? More? Since I saw the Angels play the Royals in Kansas City. I think my sister was still in undergrad at that point (so I was in high school! SO LONG AGO!).

Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof, and it was mercifully closed last night, so it was the first ball game I'd ever been to that took place indoors. That was really weird at first, and we were probably into the fifth inning before it really felt like I was at the ballpark. Once I got used to it, though, it was a really nice stadium. I love the giant window looking out on the Houston skyline. (Well, one of them, anyway)

The Astros played the Royals, and it was probably the quirkiest baseball game I've been to since that duck rammed head-first into the outfield wall at a Wrangers game back in 1999. (Again, SO LONG AGO!) You had a misguided inside-the-park homerun fail, a pinch-hit 2-run go-ahead home run from one of my favorite former Angels (from the World Series team; now an older player hitting .135 going into last night's game), five innings of perfect baseball from a KC pitcher who went in with an ERA of over six, a blown ninth-inning Astros lead after an all-star first baseman went Bill Buckner and the unusual geometric design of the outfield wall turned a double-play into a base hit, extra innings, something like $50 million going a combined 0-for-20 or something like that, and lead-off extra-inning home runs in both the tenth and eleventh for Royals players as the home team lost 4-3 in eleven.

Of course, all of that was stretched out over three and a half hours. It wasn't nearly that mind-boggling all at once.

It was a good time, though. Hopefully I'll be able to make it out to another game or two at some point this year. I know people assume I don't care about any sport but hockey, but really that's never been anywhere near the truth, and there are few treats like a live baseball game (even if I hadn't been able to make it out to one for the past four seasons, despite my best intentions).

One great thing about baseball: the atmosphere is so much more family-friendly than at other sporting events. Some of this is, as Dave pointed out, all the families sit in the upper-upper deck because that's all they can afford, and some of it is that the more leisurely (there's another word that doesn't fit the I before E except after C rule or when it says AY as in neighbor or weigh rule) pace of the game doesn't keep the adrenaline/emotions churning at a feverish rate for an hour on end. You just sit, watch, enjoy the company, and cheer when something good happens. It's a grand old time. Unlike Aeros games, this is an event I could start bringing Robbie to in a couple of years and not worry about what he's going to see or hear. And it's nice for there to be a corner of the sports world where it's still easy to be a parent.