Clayton Kershaw (5-3, 3.09) vs. Bud Norris (2-3, 3.93).
In the last 15 years, I've had jobs which have required a lot of travel, domestic and international. And there was one time where I had to go on a business trip from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, by myself. Since the time zones are against you, I remember flying out early that morning, the day before the meeting, and landing in Austin some time that afternoon. I remember shuttling to the rental car station and throwing my carry-on in the trunk of some mid-sized unremarkable car.
And then, instead of checking in at my hotel, I drove for three hours to catch a game at Minute Maid Park.
Mind you, the route between Austin and Houston, on US-290, is far from scenic. With small towns like Elgin, Carmine, Brenham, Hempstead, and Prairie View along the way, it's a pretty desolate slog. The radio couldn't really keep me company, since I wasn't much of a country music fan. So I armed myself with some Coke and fritos, and I forged onward, singularly focused on picking off another MLB stadium in my quest.
Minute Maid Park was a pretty cool stadium, I might add. On the night I was there, the retractable roof was closed (Texas is one humid state!), and the temperature inside was pleasant and comfortable.
Watching games on television, the most obvious oddity is that crazy hill in center field; some might also notice the train on the rails above left and center field (which activates on Astros home runs). However, besides that, there are some other quirks that make Minute Maid Park a neat reflection of the Houston community. For example, the price of a barrel of oil was signaled one of the ribbon scoreboards:
...and in center field, there's an old-style oil pump that tracks the Astros home runs hit at the ballpark:
Anyway, it was well worth the trip to see a game, even with the long drive through the pitch-black night back to Austin that evening. I was pretty tired for that business meeting the following day. But I did bag a pretty sweet adidas t-shirt (pictured at top). And, unlike the 2011 Dodgers with RISP, you gotta take advantage of opportunities when you've got 'em.