The NFL Yawnfest -- er, Experience -- held during Super Bowl week at the George R. Brown Convention Center was a dud. The most popular exhibit was the half-size football field where parents let their kids run around until they dropped from exhaustion. But we have higher hopes for the John Hancock All-Star FanFest, which will be held this week in the same building. Exhibits at this MLB playground promise to be more interactive than the NFL sideshow. FanFest includes video batting cages where you can face major-leaguers' split-finger fastballs and pitching cages where you can toss your own heat at virtual batters. And there's the Steal Home Challenge, where the kids can run 90 feet from third to home as many times as they want. You'll also find artifacts from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and, of course, a memorabilia trade show where you can buy or sell baseball cards.
No one's asking us, but we have a few ideas for additional attractions: a Pete Rose "Over-Under" exhibit, a Barry Bonds "Success Through Steroids" lecture series and a Mike Piazza "Broken Bat Tossed at Your Head" thrill ride. That would rule. Opens at 9 a.m. daily from Friday, July 9, to Tuesday, July 13. 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For a full schedule, call 800-449-3267. $10 to $15. -- Greg Barr
Not everyone can be a millionaire superathlete with a nice fade-away jumper or a 350-yard drive. But some of us are decent at the game of washers, and there seems to be money in that -- sort of. Two-person teams will compete for $1,700 in prizes this week at 529 BBQ's Second Anniversary Washer Tournament. And if you have no idea what the game of washers is, just think of it as a smaller version of horseshoes, except you throw 3/8-inch washers at a two-inch cup from a distance of 21 feet. It's also a lot like playing quarters, with a little less mandatory drinking. The Saturday final features Budweiser girls, Hooters waitresses, trophies, raffles, live music and children's activities. Qualifying rounds every day at 7 p.m. Monday, July 12, through Friday, July 16. Finals at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 17. 12512 FM 529. For information, call 713-938-7679 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. $50 per team.-- Eric Norvell