Sunday, September 2, 2012

Game #2 - Houston Astros

The day started with a flight from Love Field to Houston.  Since we were too early to check-in to our hotel, Jeremy and I went straight to NASA's Johnson Space Center.  The visit to the center was highlighted by the Tram Tour which went into actually operating NASA buildings.  The tram made three stops...stop #1 was the Mission Control Room used during the Apollo Space Missions - this was the actually room where they controlled the first landing on the moon (Apollo 11) and where they successfully returned the Apollo 13 astronauts.

Stop #2 was the astronauts' training facility where NASA has constructed a full-size replica of the International Space Station.  This area also showcased the new space craft NASA will be using to send astronauts to Mars' moons and eventually Mars itself.

The final stop, stop #3 was Rocket Park and a building housing the Saturn V rocket.  The actual Saturn V we saw was built for Apollo 18 but was never launched since the program was cancelled.  It was be hard to see from the photo, by the rocket is over 375 feet long.  

Back inside the Visitor's Center, there were some very interesting exhibits and could have definitely spent more time if we had the opportunity.  

After checking into our hotel in downtown Houston, we boarded the light rail to check out the old Astrodome and Reliant Stadium.  The Houston Texans were playing a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings; since this game was being played concurrently with the Astros' games, we were only able to walk around the stadium prior to kick-off.

Following our visit to the Texans' home, it was back to the Embassy Suites for a quick stop for snacks and drinks at their complimentary happy hour before the five block walk to Minute Maid Park.  The Astros were playing the Giants so we dressed in our away team gear.  This would be the first game I saw inside a dome stadium, and thank goodness the retractable roof was closed - it was much more enjoyable being inside the air conditioning than the hot Texas sun.

We attended a record-setting game at Minute Maid Park - the lowest attendance in the history of the ballpark at 12,835.  If it hadn't been for the swarm of Giants' fans, I would have to think the attendance would have been half of the that.  We had seats in the Crawford Boxes - the left-field seating section.  The left field wall measures a short 315-feet and our seats were in row 1.  The area around us was close to a split-even mix of Giants' and Astros' fans.

There are a couple of unique features at Minute Maid Park, both which are rumored to be removed at the end of this season.  The first is a large train that runs above the outfield at the start of the game and for every Astros' home run (sorry for not having a photo).  The second is Tal's Hill which is a sloped area of grass in center field which is in play, including the flag pole.  During the game, it was very quiet inside the stadium with the small crowd, but it was also interesting the stadium never played any audio clips, songs, cheers, etc. during the game.

The highlight of the game came in the 8th inning when Joaquin Arias hit a home run to the Crawford Boxes - a guy about 7-feet away from us caught the home run ball - thanks for the phone call right after, Scooter.  In the end, the Giants came out victorious.  

Following the game, we stopped by a dueling piano bar down the street for a few drinks before calling it a night.  

Overall, it was a great day in Houston and awesome to see the Giants win of the road; however, in the list of MLB cities and stadiums to revisit, Houston would be lower on the list.  Next stop is Chicago...

1 comment:

  1. Back to commenting...must I say how funny you look in the space helmet?!!! Not a look for you Andrew!! I assume the other interesting picture was of the space toilet? Of course you would go there....Why didn't they let you shoot off a rocket? Kind of like making a pizza, right? I was watching that game on TV and did not see you, as Scooter claims he did...that park seemed odd on TV too....very quiet, thank God Giants fans showed up for a bit of noise.....