With a Labor Day matinee day game today between the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins I inched one team closer to seeing all 30 Major League Baseball teams at Minute Maid Park.
I had seen the Twins in Florida many times for Spring Training but until today I had never had the chance to see them play a regular season game.
Later in the month I will see games against the Angels and the Yankees to complete the 30 teams in a single Ballpark quest.
Of course a larger goal of mine is seeing all 30 teams in their home Ballparks but having them all come to me is certainly a good first step.
The journey to see all 30 teams at Minute Maid Park started modestly enough with a 2001 game against the San Francisco Giants on October 4, 2001. It was also the only game at the Ballpark while it was called Enron Field.
But, for any purists out there who say that it shouldn’t count for seeing all 30 teams at Minute Maid Park rest assured I have seen the Giants play during the Minute Maid era.
The game had originally been scheduled for September but was moved to October after a week of games was cancelled following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
For those who may have forgotten October 4, 2001 was the day that Barry Bonds tied Mark McGwire’s home run record at 70.
The stands erupted in cheers when that record setting homer sailed over the wall. Of course it is not often that a home run hit by the opposing team gets such a response but this was history in the making. Or at least it was history tying in the making.
Bonds very well may have broken that record as well during the same game that he tied it aside from the fact that the Astros manager decided to give Bonds an intentional walk later in the game ending any chance that home run number 71 would occur on Houston soil.
I recall writing at the time that the history denying intentional walk was not in the spirit of competition and was manipulating records.
Of course, after having 12 or so years to reflect it occurs to me that not wanting to have the tainted home run occur on his watch was a wise move on the manager’s part.
Perhaps that Astros manager saw through the hype before the rest of us and realized that Bonds was likely using some pharmaceutical enhancements to crush those long balls.
Since that night Bonds went on to be disgraced with many fans wanting an asterisk by his record to reflect that it was not earned cleanly and should not be the official record.
The record will stand until another player, perhaps Baltimore’s Chris Davis, breaks it the clean way without any attachment to performance enhancing drugs.
While not every game at Minute Maid Park was as exciting has my first there have certainly been other memories made by the various teams that have come through the visitor’s clubhouse. And of course from time to time the home team has made a few memorable plays.
Although lately it seems that many of the plays made by the Astros are memorable for all the wrong reasons.
I am sure there will come a day when the Astros once again fill the Ballpark with fans wanting to see great things from the home team. Many fans are boycotting the move to the American League and the change in ownership.
While the new ownership has certainly made its fair share of blunders, and moving the team from the National League to the American League was highly unpopular among many in the Astros fan base, ironically it was the unpopular relocation of the Astros to the American League that helped speed up my quest to see all 30 teams. Without the Astros moving to the American League West I would not have been able to cross off Seattle and Oakland earlier in the season.
While all of the teams would eventually have rolled through town under the old Interleague schedule infusing some new teams into the mix was certainly a welcome rest from multiple games against National League Central opponents each year.
I grew up on American League baseball with the Orioles and Rays and had not seen a National League game in person until the first one at Minute Maid Park. While I have now seen more National League games than American League games in my life I have to admit I still prefer the American League style with the designated hitter.
I know there are baseball purists who are cringing right now and crumpling up their felt pennants but I really would whether see 9 people that can potentially hit than 8 and a guaranteed strike out or sacrifice bunt from the pitcher.
I still think the Astros make a better National League team than an American League team but one does have to play with the cards they are dealt as opposed to always shouting at the dealer to reshuffle the deck until a hand that suits them is dealt.
So, like it or not the Astros are an American League squad. Granted, they are not a very successful one but they are one nonetheless. And with the constant presence of Interleague play now the lines between National and American League rules and playing styles will continue to get blurred until all of the teams are basically the same.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to get some tickets to see the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or Burbank or whatever L.A. suburb they are including in their name these days. It sure was easier when they were just the California Angels but I guess too many people were getting lost on the Pacific Coast Highway trying to find them somewhere between San Diego and Sacramento so some better geographic indicators were needed.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson