ESPN doesn't think much of the fan experience in Houston, especially for the Astros fans, which ESPN ranks at number 68. This ranking is based on things like ownership, coaching, players, bang for the buck, fan relations, stadium experience, affordability, and something called title tracks -- that deals with the number of titles the team has won or can be expected to win. And I can see where ESPN is coming from with this list and with its ranking, but I think there are a few things about the Astros fan experience that ESPN failed to take into account, and which would, if considered, make the ranking much, much better.
1. Minute Maid Park is the only ballpark in the majors that spares you the worry of deciding what kind of food to bring into the game with you. Instead, the Astros don't allow you to bring in food and let you have the ultimate ballpark experience of old hot dogs.
2. What other ballpark in the majors has a hill in centerfield for the outfielders to play around on?
3. Then there's the choo-choo train to nowhere.
4. And thanks to Minute Maid Park, you can relive the experience of being in old ballparks from the past. Like Tal's Hill which was based on a hill in Cincinnati's old ballpark.
5. Or those flagpoles that are in play at the top of the hill which are based on flagpoles that used to be in play at Detroit's old stadium.
6. And thanks to Minute Maid Park, you do not need to waste any money traveling the country to visit some of the historic ballparks which are currently in use, because MMP just rips them all off, anyway. For instance, why go to Wrigley Field for the ivy when you can just look at the centerfield wall in MMP?
7. And there's no need to go to Fenway Park to see the Green Monster or the monstrous Citgo sign that looms behind that wall. Not when you go to Minute Maid Park and see the cheap imitations.
8. And forget about going to Camden Yards in Baltimore to see the original retro-stadium. Drayton stole the idea for the dark green seats directly from there, just so as to save you, the fan, some much needed travel dollars.
9. And Minute Maid Park -- or the Juice Box as it is sometimes called -- is the perfect name for a stadium that was, in the earlier part of this decade, known as ground zero for steroid and HGH use.
10. The original name of MMP was Enron Field, which was quickly changed when it was discovered that Ken Lay and Enron were full of nothing but hot air and empty promises, just like Drayton McLane is full of nothing but hot air and empty promises.
11. And just like Enron and Ken Lay were a bit of a criminal enterprise, the Astros, too, have been a bit of a criminal enterprise featuring the likes of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada.
12. With Tal's Hill, the choo-choo train, the flagpoles, and the Crawford Boxes, MMP has been alienating real baseball fans since 2000.
13. Minute Maid Park is the only place in the world with more advertising than a NASCAR race.
14. Minute Maid Park has so many cheap plastic imitations of real ballparks that it makes Disneyland's various replica worlds appear realistic.
15. Minute Maid Park also makes the Disney properties look like financial bargains.
16. The Astros are the only franchise in history to twice lose Nolan Ryan to the Texas Rangers.
17. Bob Ford is the best PA voice in baseball. Unfortunately, the sound mix is so loud, and so overwhelmed by bad music, that you can hardly understand a word he says.
18. But at least the music is so loud and so constant that you don't have the mental ability to dwell on how bad the team really is.
19. Only in Houston would a loafer like Carlos Lee be embraced as a great player.
20. But hey, the current uniforms are so dull and bland that one looks back fondly on the old rainbow uniforms.
21. Minute Maid Park makes Tropicana Field look like an authentic ballpark.
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22. The FiveSeven Grille allows Drayton McLane to keep making money off Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.
23. Junction Jack has allowed Astros fans to realize just how stupid baseball team mascots really are.
24. Did we mention that stupid choo-choo train?
25. And the Astros give George and Barbara Bush a place to hang out and to get away from the pesky kids.