When I woke up Easter Sunday, I never dreamed that I’d have possibly one of the worst and most confusing days of my life.
Then I went to the Astros game.
A little advice for the real baseball fans out there, and I mean the vocal ones; if you visit Minute Maid Park (or should I call it The Babysitters Club) bring diapers and bottles for all the kids and crybaby fans. Of course you could always blame me and my two buddies for going on “Junction Jack” doll give away day. But nonetheless, this was the worst sporting event I’ve ever been too.
We arrived at the park around 11 a.m. in order to enjoy some batting practice. The gates didn’t open until 11:30 a.m. so we’re out in the freezing cold for 30 minutes standing in line with an annoying guy who insisted on butting into our conversation about the last few homerun competitions.
When we finally got into the equally cold stadium, (I remind you we have a retractable roof) we quickly parked ourselves in the Crawford boxes for a chance at a fly ball, or at least the opportunity to heckle players. Yet the only fly balls that came are over our heads were traveling around 80 mph, or right past me as I was cursing Cardinals second baseman, Aaron Miles, who I nicknamed “Once-a-Week” (that’s how often he plays). People gave me strange looks, as if to defend the opposing player, including a kid next to me. Don’t worry, the ball I missed hit the kid, who had a glove, dead in the chest and an old man wrestled it from him. We enjoyed that.
The first inning went by pretty fast considering that Kip Wells, who we later dubbed “Kip Halladay” or “Kip Ryan,” was pitching for the birds. A family of five, two adults and three kids sat in front and in back of us. It was going to be a long game.
Finally some excitement came in the second inning, although, it came at the expense of the home team.
A wild pitch by Jason Jennings scored a run for the Cards. Groans filled the stadium. We let Ausmus have it for the wild pitch. Loretta got a hit and there wouldn’t be many more.
In the third inning, we had a discussion about who would be the first to spot some moron in an Ausmus or Lidge jersey.
Pujols crushed a home run to deep left center. More groans; I cheer. Pujols is on my fantasy team.
In New York I’d have been shot by now. Good thing we were in Houston, home of the bland.
The Cardinals got another run in the bottom of the fourth. More people groaned. We heckled.
The guy in front of us turned around and said, “Could you guys keep it down? I got my kids here.”
Then his wife said, “Yeah, they’re eight and 10”
I forgot that he paid more for the seats directly in front of ours. I also forgot that a baseball park full of drunks on Easter watching a bad team was a great place to take your kids.
Oscar and I went to get a hot dog, relieving the guy in front of us from the constant smart remarks we were making about him and his kids.
We saw a lady wearing a Brad Ausmus jersey in the seventh. Then we saw a guy wearing a Brad Lidge jersey. At this point I didn’t know what I was most disappointed about; the food price, the weather in a closed stadium, the fact that we were losing, the choice of jerseys people decided to wear, or that guy and his kids.
By the eighth inning, the hot dogs were hard and tasted bad. Pujols got another hit. I was happy; the crowd was not. Little did we know how bad it was about to be.
The guy in front of us pointed out birds trapped in the stadium to his kids, who started playing Nintendo and drawing in coloring books. Would they allow this in Chicago?
Brad Ausmus got a cheap hit. We let him know. I motioned to Oscar and Joe that Brad Lidge was warming up. Oh God.
The ninth inning brought the worst inning in Astro history. To our delight, Lidge gave up five runs, proving our point to the rest of the people and their children in our section, of how bad he is.
Pujols scored another run; I’m ecstatic. We are now down 10 to 0. Oscar then realized that Lidge was on his fantasy team.
When Lidge was yanked after 2/3rds of an inning, he received a sympathetic standing ovation from the overly forgiving crowd. We, however, were not so forgiving, letting Lidge know there is a place for him that I can’t mention in this article. The guy and family left along with the rest of the crowd. Great fans.
The Astros scored a run, as World Series type celebration erupts from all 70 people that were still there. We were only down 10 to 1; we had a chance.
Next batter out, and the game was over.
We lost 10 to 1 and managed only three hits. We listened to talk radio hosts make excuses the whole way home in traffic.
This wasn’t intended to bash our hometown boys, but it was just a miserable baseball atmosphere. Not only do they not trash and heckle players that deserve it, they also make it hard on everyone else by bringing their disinterested kids.
I’ve been to a many different major league ball parks and never have I seen Nintendo in the bleachers at Wrigley, coloring books in the Camden Yard left field seats or parents telling guys behind them to quite down at Yankee Stadium.
I’m not saying that kids don’t belong in ballparks, but they either need their own section, or a good pair of ear muffs. As much as we are disturbing their “good” time, they’re ruining mine along with the rest of us vocal fans experience at the “Old Ball Game.”