Daily Archives: April 8, 2012

An Interview With Ball Park In Arlington Expert Clint Booth

Sunday April.08/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- My brother Clint picked the greatest time to live in Dallas, Texas for half  of a year in 2010.  He moved to the Lonestar State to witness the Rangers make it all the way to the World Series that year.  I was jealous of him for every minute he spent at The Ball Park in Arlington.  I had a chance to talk with him recently about that stretch of games that he was in attendance a lot for.  Also, I picked his brain to help my own when I wrote my baseball book last year.

DB: “Clint, I have made it a point to say that parking at The Ball Park In Arlington is the fairest system of all if you want to walk a little extra, however that might not work for some people, what are your thoughts on parking there?

CB: I don’t think most people want to walk in the 100 degree weather so parking close to the park is”EXPENSIVE! Show up early for a decent spot and pay the extra $$ to get in early -it’s not that you are “close” to the ball park, it is GETTING OUT AFTER -best to park close to the stadium and then make your way back to I 30. If you go too far into Arlington it will take you up to an hour to crawl out after the game. Some guys I know parked across I 30 and walked in-long walk both ways. Best bet: CAR SERVICE. For $75-100 each way from Downtown Dallas and back you can ride in a luxury vehicle, save the $25-40 on parking, and drink at the game without having to worry about driving home and you’ll be dropped off right in front of the ball park.  During the ALCS Championship I would drive into Arlington and get as close as I could to the ball park. Good luck finding a spot but bless the Americans as they OWN their land so a guy let me park on his lawn for $20 while everywhere else was $75-100.

Clint Booth &
Ken Booth @
Busch Stadium

DB: “Where did you like to sit a the park?”

CB: “Best Seats: LEXUS CLUB -only level in the park where they serve hard alcohol… have a margarita there -AMAZING The Lexus Club also has the best vantage point in park for the game.  The design of the stadium allows for every seat to be a great seat.  Also, sit on the 1st base side as it gets bloody hot in Texas so stay out of the sun.

The Booth Boys

DB:  “What about the food?”

CB: The best singular food is THE NACHOS (FULLY LOADED) in the main concourse -Texans don’t mess around when it come to TEX MEX! These are UNREAL. There are seats available in an American Classic “All you can EAT SEATS”… I never sat there but I hear it is a great deal…You can bring your own food into this park. I once sat beside a guy who used a beverage cooler to keep his 12 hot dogs warm…he killed all 12! I was pretty jealous. I took a picture of him when he was on #9.

DB:  “What would you describe the park ambiance as?”

CB:  It is a FAMILY PARK first and foremost-don’t call a guy a bad name (referring about a cat) for trying to bunt for a base hit. I had to learn that lesson the hard way. At Yankee Stadium ALL of the fans would have cheered me.  Every time a Ranger Pitcher gets a Strike Out the Chic Fil A Cow has a picture that says “EAT MORE CHICKEN” and the “K” lights up. Funny.

DB:  “In our conversations that year, you often referred to the ANTLERS/CLAWS phenomenon, can you explain this for people who may not know this?”

CB: “THE CLAW: if a player hits for POWER and reaches second or puts one-off the wall once they reach base they will lift an arm with an open hand over their head in a Monster “CLAW” motion and the players started this first and then the fans caught… One game I saw Kinsler reach first on what was supposed to be a Sac Bunt and Vlad made the kid do both the CLAW and the ANTLERS (see next). THE ANTLERS: Same deal as the CLAW but it is done when a player shows SPEED. Vlad Guerrero has long been my favorite player and I can tell you from experience that HE thinks he has ANTLERS. I told my fiance that “…I hope we get to see Vlad try to stretch out a double today…” well, we did, but it was better, he went for third and got gunned out by 6 feet. He then got up and threw his helmet in classic Vlad fashion. I was jumped out of my seat cheering and laughing sporting my Vlad Guerrero Jersey.  Nobody “got” why I was so excited but I knew…

DB:  What about nostalgia at the park, how do they treat the historical players of their team?

CB: “Awesome “old school” design of the park. The Front Offices sit over Center Field.Nolan Ryan goes to every game and sits behind home plate. The guy is a stud. Often you will see his good buddy George W. Bush sitting beside him. Texans love GW almost as much as Nolan Ryan.  They also have big banners for any player that had significant value to the team at any point in Franchise History

DB:  What can you expect for the total fan experience?”

CB: Well, you are in Texas so be prepared for it to get REALLY loud when the team is scoring or something happens like a strike ***smirk*** -Texans LOVE their teams. Great fans. All of the real estate behind Center Field is dedicated to kids… there is some really cool stuff for your little guys to do like batting cages and games so bring them with you. During the 7th inning stretch the sing “America The Beautiful” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas”. As with the National Anthem EVERYONE sings so you are best to learn the words if you don’t know them.

During the ALCS vs the Yanks in 2010 Vlads Mom cooked a goat stew for the Carribean players on the Rangers… They shared it with the Carribean players on the Yanks. Says a lot about that team’s culture , so this is a testament to Ronnie Washington…The”Kinsler/Vlad story was hilarious! They showed it on ESPN later. Also, the whole team has to “make” Michael Young do the “CLAW” because the guy is so humble.

***Thank you to our Ball Park In Arlington expert- Clint Booth for participating in today’s article.  Plus thank you for being my brother, who with my other 2 brothers and family, have always had my back on these journeys, both emotionally and financially!***

                                                                               Clint Booth with his fiancée Dana Patraschuck in 2010

 ***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

About these ads

Minute Maid Park Review: Courtesy of Stadium Journey’s Correspondent Paul Derrick

Sunday, April. 8/2012

This review is courtesy of www.stadiumjourney.com, the best source for stadium reviews and information.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Minute Maid Park

Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. The Astros have been calling Houston home since 1962. Originally known as the Colt .45s in 1962, then after the .45s moved to the world’s first multi-purpose dome (Astrodome) they became the Astros. In 2000, the Astros made another move to their current home of Minute Maid Park, located in downtown Houston. Minute Maid Park, like its predecessor, was one of the first of its kind being one of the first retractable-roofed stadiums. This was definitely a great idea as fans are protected from Houston’s notoriously humid weather, but also allows fans to enjoy outdoor baseball during favorable weather. Minute Maid Park has the capacity to seat just under 41,000 people.

Minute Maid Park is definitely a one of a kind venue. The largest entrance to the park is inside what was once Houston’s Union Station, and the left field side of the stadium features a train as homage to the site’s history.

The train moves along a track on top of the length of the exterior wall beyond left field whenever an Astros player hits a home run, or when the Astros win a game. The engine’s tender, traditionally used to carry coal, but is usually filled with giant oranges in tribute to Minute Maid’s most famous product, orange juice.

The playing field also has a lot of neat nooks and crannies to it from the short porch in left known as the Crawford Boxes to Tal’s Hill in center. Another cool feature you will see at Minute Maid is a concourse above Tal’s Hill which features the “Conoco Home Run Porch” in left-center field that is actually over the field of play, and features a classic gasoline pump that displays the total number of Astros home runs hit since the park opened.

For fans that have attended Minute Maid in the past but not in 2011, new for the 2011 season is a large HD screen nicknamed “El Grande” replacing the original one in center field. At 54 feet high and 124 feet wide, it is the second largest scoreboard in Major League Baseball, behind Kauffman Stadium. The old screen was taken out and replaced by billboards. Additionally they added a smaller HD screen on the far left field wall. The ring of advertisement screens around the park have also been replaced in favor of HD ribbon boards in 2011.

 

Fan Fare Score 4.1 stars          

Crowd Score 3.6 stars    

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the “FANFARE Score”.

Food & Beverage    5

No trip to the ballpark is complete without some peanuts and crackerjacks (or so the song says, anyway). Fortunately, Minute Maid Park, has a bevy of food choices for you.

I’ll start by mentioning the Astros’ Sizzling Grille located in sections 116 and 125 where you can enjoy a Texas sized mild or hot sausage with your choice of toppings on a fresh baked poppy seed roll. If your taste buds are yearning for some fresh cooked sausages then the Sizzling Grill is where you need to be.

One of my favorite spots is the FiveSeven Grille owned by two of the greatest Astros of all time, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. The FiveSeven Grille is a nice sitdown resturant that offers a variety of great options as well as to go orders for fans to enjoy in their seats. The FiveSeven Grille is located near section 156.

A couple other favorites of mine include the Goya Latin Cafe and Lefty’s BBQ at Union Station. The Goya Latin Cafe has one of the best chicken in chipotle sauce I have ever had. They offer a vast array of different products from Beef Picadillo to grilled Cuban sandwiches. The Goya even offers frozen sangrias and margaritas if that is what you are in the mood for. The Goya Cafe can be found behind home plate near section 119. My last favorite spot is Lefty’s BBQ which offers mouth watering Texas favorites like beef brisket, ribs, sausages and smoked turkey with all the great fixins. If Texas BBQ is on your mind then Lefty’s is your place.

Minute Maid definitely provides many options and are right on par with most MLB park prices, so definitely make sure you bring a big appetite and even bigger checkbook.

Atmosphere    4

The atmosphere at Minute Maid Park is unfortunately declining the worse the team gets. As of the time of this review (July 2011) the Astros are the worst team in baseball and on their way to their first 100-loss season in franchise history. So anytime you go to Minute Maid Park now you may see a more than average influx of opposing fans at games, especially when some of the big teams like the Cubs, Cardinals or Mets are in town. At times you may see a 50/50 crowd if someone like the Red Sox or Yankees are in town for inter-league play.

There are still neat things around the ballpark that provide that great baseball atmosphere, but the fans are definitely hurting this atmosphere. The Astros provide a great atmosphere for the kids as well as the diehard baseball fan. It just seems the baseball atmosphere will get worse before it gets better.

Neighborhood    4

As I mentioned earlier, Minute Maid Park is in downtown Houston so you have a variety of options. I will list a couple of my ballpark favorites. First off is the Home Plate Bar & Grill. The place is packed during every Astros home game, but it’s virtually empty in the off-season. Predictably, the decor is a stuffed-to-the-gills collection of autographed jerseys and posters of sports figures. Intent on watching the game? Sit downstairs – the mezzanine section has just two 13-inch TVs. The food wins big points, but drinks and service are somewhat lacking. The incredibly delicious crawfish po’boy is Tuesday’s standout special. Wash it down with a $2.50 Mexican beer or $1.50 well drinks.

Another option right outside the ballpark is The B.U.S. If you end up on Travis St. on the way to Minute Maid Park for an Astros game, just look for the big blob of Stros gear, Ray-Bans, and Ice Cold brew all nestled under an open warehouse-like bar right across from the stadium and you have come across the B.U.S. Inside you will find 2 main bars made out of wood, many large old school big screen TVs, projections, pool tables, darts, shuffle board, an uber amount of sports memorabilia, and a bunch of happy, fired up baseball fans having a good time whether they have tickets to the game or not. It’s not the cheapest place as far as beer prices, but overall it’s a great place to unwind, relax, and drink up before or even after the game.

Fans    3

Well, as bad as I hate to say this, Astros fans are some of the worst fair weather fans you will find in the league. Just a little over five years ago, Minute Maid Park was buzzing with fans as the Astros made their run at the World Series. Unfortunately for the ‘Stros, the fans, and Minute Maid Park it has gone down hill since then. I will say if you are still looking for some of those diehard fans you’re better off looking for them in the 300 and 400 sections rather than lower to the field. I have sat all throughout Minute Maid Park and have found the more dedicated and knowledgeable fans seem to be higher up. Unfortunately for the fans it doesn’t look like they are going to get any better any time soon, so they will just have to hope the rebuilding process doesn’t take as long as it did in Pittsburgh.

Access    4

Access to Minute Maid Park is usually not too bad. If you work downtown or are visiting, then I would highly recommend taking the Light Rail. Unfortunately, the city of Houston still has a pretty dismal public transportation system. As long as you aren’t fighting the usually brutal Houston traffic though, getting to Minute Maid can be pretty easy.

Parking will cost anywhere from $10-$20 depending on the distance from the ballpark as well as importance of the game. The concourses are wide enough to make a trip all the way around the ballpark with ease.

Bathrooms are plentiful and I have never noticed much of a line during my many visits.

Return on Investment    5

Right now (2011) is about the best return on investment you will ever find at Minute Maid Park. With plenty of promotional deals, the Astros are making a trip to Minute Maid Park quite an affordable trip for the family. The Astros offer promotions like all summer long kids are free, so I can buy a regularly priced ticket and both of my sons get in free. If you’re planning a trip to Minute Maid Park in the near future I would definitely check the promotional schedule to see when you can get the most out of your money.

Extras    4

There are a few neat extras I like about the park. One is Tal’s Hill. I think it adds that special unique aspect to Minute Maid Park. As well as it can make for some great blooper reels or SportsCenter highlights depending on how the center fielder handles the hill.

Another great extra is the Train located on tracks at the top of the stadium. It is a neat fixture and the kids love it.

One of my favorite extras is the singing of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” during the seventh inning stretch. You don’t even have to be a fan of baseball to enjoy that. Trust me, no matter what your age is you will be hard pressed from at least humming the tune during this.

My last point goes out to the great inclusion of the retractable roof which makes plenty of fans happy on those blistering hot summer days.

Paul Derrick

***Thanks to Paul Derrick and Paul Swaney for giving us all of this great information on Minute Maid Park.  Be Sure to check out their entire site for ballpark reviews.  They are also coming out with an MLB Magazine shortly.  sign up here for all of the latest updates at Stadium Journey.***

Paul Swaney and his son

www.stadiumjourney.com, the best source for stadium reviews and information.

 ***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

The 2012 Padres Rotation Will Be Just Fine

Sunday April 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: From what I’ve heard around baseball about the Padres rotation, the Padres have no chance of contending in 2012. This was surprising to me, when actually the Padres slim chance of contending this year is due to their abysmal offense. The Padres rotation is fairly average compared to the rest of baseball. Obviously, losing your ace would hurt any MLB pitching staff. But I believe that the 2012 Padres rotation is almost criminally underrated.

At the forefront of the Padres rotation is newly acquired right-handed pitcher from the Reds, Edinson Volquez. Volquez was one of the players included in the Mat Latos trade in December. He was always a highly esteemed pitching prospect coming up in the Rangers minor league system, the problem always being his command. After being traded to the Reds following two average seasons with the Rangers, Volquez had a breakout year with the 2008 Reds. He threw 196 innings with 206 strikeouts, a 3.21 ERA, and a 4.3 BB/9. Due to his ridiculous first half of the season, Volquez made the 2008 National League All-Star team. The next year, Volquez got off to a decent start, but then was forced to miss the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery. Coming back from Tommy John surgery is not an easy thing, but multiple MLB pitchers have come back from the surgery, pitching just as good (if  not better) than they did when they were healthy before. Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,792 other followers

%d bloggers like this: