The Minnesota Twins descended upon Space City for the American League Divisional Series. Game one and two fell on a weekend, so some Twins fans were able to make it down to Minute Maid ballpark to watch their team take on the 2022 World Series champs.
I was fortunate enough to make it down to Houston for the games, so I wanted to give you a little glimpse into how they do it in ‘H’ Town.
First, Let’s Talk Fans
Most of the Twins fans had their red homer hankies and were seated behind the Twins dugout down third baseline. Later I would learn all of those fans were basically players’ wives, children and other family members. Two Astros fans got stuck right in the middle of it. Allegedly it was Joey Gallo who invited a couple of his friends. They were smack dab in the middle of all the Twins cheering, so that was funny. Other than that little section of about 40 people, the stadium was packed to the brim with Astros supporters. I did run into a few Twins fans on the flight down, but they could not be heard in stands for game one and two of the ALDS, at least by me.
The Twins little cheering section was fierce. Led by Jayce Tingler’s boys, the Twins chants were rollin’. Some of my favorites from Sunday night were “We are louder!” and “We have Carlos!” but I was saying “We love Carlos,” not sure which one it was, either way, they were awesome.
I’m burying the lede a bit, because what I’m trying to get at here is this: when it comes to fans, Twins fans have been superior to what I saw in Houston. Now, Astros fans have been around the block and done this a time or two, so I get it. But the energy at Target Field was unmatched by Astros fans. Target Field during the Wild Card Series was the loudest and best cheering I have ever heard in that stadium. Standing every at-bat for Royce Lewis and standing for many of the big ABs or pitches, Houston fans didn’t compare. Heading to Target Field for games 3 and 4 in front of sold-out crowds is going to be exciting. Let’s make some noise!
I was able to chat with Royce after winning the Wild Card Series. After his explosive game one, fans were on their feet everytime he came to the plate. When I asked him “Do you notice, the entire place is on their feet your entire at-bats?”
“Tell them thank you, seriously. It means so much. I can’t even put it into words. I’m speechless. I always look up because it really gets my attention,” Lewis said.
So keep standing Minnesota. Keep being loud. It helps.
Now To The Stadium
What a beautiful place. The weather was also fantastic for outdoor baseball, but with Verlander on the mound for game 1, the roof was shut. The roof was supposed to be closed for both games, but they changed that last-minute before game two, leaving the roof open for only the second time this season, both games the Astros have lost. (Editor’s note: reportedly MLB forced them to open the roof).
Anyway, making my way into the ballpark, I learned something very quickly. The food is immaculate down here. The options are endless at Minute Maid. From chains like Shake Shack and Chik-Fil-A to endless meat/brisket/sausage options, I was very, very impressed. Margaritas and Mexican food stops are all over the place. There just felt like so many more options than at Target Field.
The nacho helmets in Houston are smaller than at Target Field though, which is probably okay.
Karbach Brewing Company is a staple beer at Minute Maid. It produces Crawford Bock with the classic logo and colors on the can. I’m not really a beer drinker, but it was actually tasty. Which is saying something from me.
Something they had in the stadium that I liked, was a personalized jersey area. You could buy your jersey right there and they’d toss your name on the back. If the Twins would get this at Target Field, I could finally get my Donnie Barrels jersey! Oh, also the sequin options for ladies' apparel, top-notch for Astros fans.
Houston fans were given rally towels when they entered the stadium. They have ‘shooting star’ cheerleaders atop both dugouts, a sweet DJ spot in left-center and the classic Slovacek Czech-Style Smoked Sausage train with operator out along the left field wall. Easily my favorite part of the stadium. The train makes noise when they hit a home run, and fireworks go off with some smoke by the train, but the engineer of that train, waving his homer hanky while wearing his conductor overalls. He was the best.
When the game started on Saturday night, the stadium was only about 75% full, I would say. The fans eventually got there, but I was surprised at how empty the stadium was to start. Minute-Maid can seat about 2,000 more fans then Target Field at 41,000 capacity. Fans cheered Carlos Correa during starting lineups, then with his first hit in his first at-bat, those cheers turned into jeers, in a hurry.
Lastly To the Town
Houston’s downtown reminds me a lot of Minneapolis. The skyline is similar and the people are friendly. Parking was extremely easy to get to the game and nightlife was available. They do have a weird abundance of scooters that you buy at a store. They aren’t like LIME or anything, they are just a company that rents them out. Seems as though every teenager in town gets one into the wee hours of the night.
Outside the stadium before the game there was a bit of a pre-party with bouncy houses and live music. The baseball atmosphere was good. It was fun, but it wasn’t Minnesota.
Something Astros fans or visitors can enjoy that Minnesota doesn’t have is the beach. I spent as much time at the beach as I did the ballpark. Galveston has fun beaches, and October is a good time to check them out because the weather is mild, and most the people are gone. You can get a hotel on the beach for under $100, and it’s only an hour drive to the stadium. I also found an amazing beach in Louisiana because well, when in Rome. I’d never been to the Bayou State, so seemed like a good time. It was.
Needless to say, it was an amazing experience attending the ALDS in Houston, but it’s even more exciting to head back home. Going to Minnesota in a knotted-up series is what I think everyone was realistically hoping for. So let’s get the “Let’s Go Twins” louder than ever, pack the stadium, and watch the Twins make history.
See y’all at games three and four. Go Twins!