Natasha Goes to the World Series

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Natasha goes to the 2021 World Series. Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas USA

Those of you that regularly follow the blog know I live in Houston, Texas USA. Our beloved Astros are in the World Series for the third time in five years. We have home field advantage meaning the first two games were in Houston. I sprang for a ticket to the second game. For my foreign followers, the World Series is up to seven baseball games with the winner being the first to get to four victories. It is top honors in professional American baseball, like the finals of the World Cup if you will.

My sister Emma and her husband are season ticket holders which means they had the opportunity to buy the series tickets before they go on sale to the general public. They can buy up to six tickets for each game; they have two tickets for the regular season. We had great seats for the second game of the series, section 110, row 7 along the third base line.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Game One of the 2021 World Series. Season Ticket Holders hold the American flag.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Emma and Maggie were among the flag holders. There are the two of the far right of this photo.

As a season ticket holder, Emma had the opportunity to carry, hold, and wave the huge American flag that they brought onto the field for the national anthem for game one. Maggie had the chance to do it with her. They had a three-hour rehearsal the day before. They said the flag was pretty heavy. In fact, one person fell and was pulled under the flag taking two other holders with her. This was actually covered during their training. At game two, I met one of the people that got pulled under. She said she could see it about to happen; the woman in front of her was struggling. My new friend Audrey is fine physically. As she put it, only her pride was bruised. She was back cheering the Astros the next night.

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
She may have been pulled under the flag the night before, but Audrey was back for game 2 of the World Series

Unfortunately, the Astros didn’t do so well that first night and fell behind early, eventually losing the game 2-6. I was pretty glad that I didn’t fork over the money for one of those tickets. I went for game two hoping for better things. My niece Maggie had been put in charge of coordinating the evening. She took her mom Emma to work downtown (where the ballpark also is) in the morning. Maggie suggested picking me up at 2:45 pm for the 7:09 pm game so we could work everything into our itinerary. I negotiated her to make it 3 pm.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Dinner at Irma’s before the game

After picking up Emma from her office, we parked in a metered spot over by the courthouse. There is a 3-hour limit for the for-pay period which ends at 6 pm, so we made the window. We paid $5.05 to park there until 6 pm and the rest of the evening is free. Not surprisingly, parking prices in the private lots are inflated for the World Series. To park in the lot across the street from our street parking was $60. For the AL series last week, the price was $40; it is $20 during the regular season.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The original dining space at Irma’s in downtown Houston where we ate before the game.

From there we walked several blocks to get an early dinner.We are going to Irma’s a downtown, a Diners and Dive type eatery that serves homemade Mexican food. In fact, I saw a picture of Irma with the Diners and Dive host in the restaurant. The place has been added on to over the years and contains all kinds of family nicknacks. They is quite an extensive doll collection on display, including in the woman’s bathroom.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The doll collection nailed to the wall in the Women’s bathroom at Irma’s.
Emma and Maggie found it a little creepy, although maybe not as creepy as me taking pictures of the bathroom.

The servers are known for their surly attitude so don’t go expecting pleasantries, especially on a busy game day. You can also expect that regulars will be given priority in the line and plucked to be seated before any who might be waiting in the queue. We arrived early and waited only briefly. Getting parking and a table at Irma’s were our primary reasons for leaving for the game so early.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Irma is in the kitchen.

The restaurant had just finished serving 300 Fox Sports workers and the servers were already in a bad mood. I offered to take a picture of Irma with one of the Fox hosts as the host was leaving. This apparently put me in the good graces of the wait staff who were very attentive and friendly to me the rest of our visit. Emma and Maggie were shocked at how well I was treated (they were not). Right place, right time.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Fajitas at Irma’s in downtown Houston.

This is authentic Mexican food, not the best I have eaten, but good. Maggie and Emma love the beef fajitas. I liked the tamales (which Emma ordered) better. There are no menus; they just tell you the few items that are being served that day. I think the tamales are an unusual offering, but they were made fresh that day for the Fox newscasters and they had a few left over.

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
The Women’s Bathroom at Irma’s is also her personal locker. Tonight Irma is wearing an Astros jersey instead.

There are no prices posted or quoted at Irma’s, so they can pretty much charge you whatever they want at the end. I picked the wrong meal to treat; it was very expensive. I will say the best part for me was the wonderful on the rocks margarita. I can highly recommend the bar.

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
It was crowded and they were turning over tables quickly, so Irma herself cleared our table while I paid the tab.
I think the woman in the middle of the television screen may be the one that I took the picture of with Irma.

They don’t bring a ticket to your table. It was suggested to us twice within about 4 minutes that we could go up to the counter to pay. We got the hint. Irma herself cleared our table when we got up to pay. There was a long line at Irma’s when we left to make the short walk over to the stadium.

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
There was a line out the door waiting for tables at Irma’s when we walked out through the bar space.

After clearing security, there was an interior “street fair” at Minute Maid Park. There were picnic tables set up on the lawn and cocktail tables around the perimeter. Big Screen video and a live band on stage entertained you while you enjoyed lawn games, food booths, and plenty of beer. There were a couple of fun places where you could take pictures.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Big Screen at the Street Fair outside Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas.
Photo ©Jean Janssen.
Within security, but outside Minute Maid Park stadium, a live band performed for the fans before the game.

While we waited in line at one of the photo op spots, the Budweiser Girls came up and asked us if they could take our picture holding a beer bottle. We each got a free beer. I don’t drink beer; Emma doesn’t drink beer. Maggie was happy to enjoy all three. We probably would have stayed outside longer, but I was ready to find a restroom, so we went inside the stadium. After our potty stop, we took another free photo inside and then headed to our seats in the field boxes.

Photo ©Ann Janssen.
Free beers for our photo op at the street fair outside Minute Maid Park.

We were in section 110, field box seats along the third base line. Technically, this is the visitors section. However not surprisingly, Astros fans far outnumbered the Braves fans. We were in row seven so there was a great view. A temporary stage was up for broadcasting a pre-game show. The energy in the stadium was amazing.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Pre Game inside Minute Maid Park. The roof is open!

Just yesterday, Houston was experiencing really hot temperatures pushing 90 degrees Fahrenheit. A cool front came through and the weather was incredibly pleasant for this second game of the series. The roof was open and it was perfect baseball weather.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Holding her sign and standing for the batter is Dr. Barbara Moon, the ultimate Astros fan.

Our seats were just a few rows behind Dr. Barbara Moon. I have known Dr. Moon for a long time. She was Rocky’s pediatric dentist (and Rocky is now 30). Even when Rocky was little, she worked her appointments around being able to go to the games and has been a season ticket holder for countless years. Dr. Moon originated the specialty signs for players at the Astros games. When he was just a new player with the team, she would hold up the “J-O-S-E” for Jose Altuve, now an Astros veteran and one of our very best players. She has expanded her sign collection to acknowledge all of the players. Her “King Tuck” for outfielder Kyle Tucker is one of my favorites.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Showing her spirit…Irma has her own named Astros jersey.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Showing his spirit with a World Series trophy hat.

You have to be dedicated to snag one of her seats which she reserves for family members and close friends. You also have to “sign” an agreement that you will attend and participate in holding up the signs at the appropriate times. All the players know Dr. Moon. You can’t miss her in her blue sequined Astros hat. Her daughter was one of those pulled under the flag the night before. Emma also works with her niece who gave Emma the skinny of the seating “agreement” you have to make. You also better show up or lose your opportunity to sit in her seats again. We were just a little too far away to participate, but if you sit close you might get drafted.

Showing their Astros spirit at the Minute Maid Park Street Fair before the game.

Everyone was out of their seats for the National Anthem and the introduction of the players. When they stayed standing for the top of the first inning when the Braves were batting, I started to get a little worried we might be standing for the whole game. By the second inning we looked around and our section was the only one standing. Finally by the third inning we got to sit, but it wasn’t very often.

Also celebrating in the stadium…friends, Joanne and Chance Kanaly

I will admit I do love to cheer and I will stand if some exciting happens. Come on, its the World Series!! Best of all, we played well and had something to be excited about. The first game, our starting pitcher was just off and we got in a hole we never recovered from. The backup pitchers all did really well. Tonight’s pitcher wasn’t who were were expecting to see, but for the most part all of the Astros game two pitchers did really well.

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
The Minute Maid train-complete with freight cars filled with oranges- travels the track whenever an Astros’ homeroom is hit.

It is said that the team follows Altuve’s lead in batting. When he hit that double I had a feeling we were going to have a good night. Jose Altuve went on to hit a homerun later in the game. There were some terrific hits. Sometimes we left too many men on base-second and third, even bases loaded, but we still scored well.

And with a great view from the upper deck…
Goddaughter Emily Thamm and her dad and my high school friend Rick Thamm

The defense was great too. Sometimes what you get to enjoy depends on where you are sitting. Michael Brantley made a great catch on the edge in left field, but the angle was wrong and I couldn’t see it from my seat. While the rest of the fans and presumably those on television watched Brantley’s terrific catch, right in front of me was Carlos Correa urging him on to throw him the ball. Correa was literally jumping up and down. The throw came from Brantley; Correa fired it to first; the base runner, already on first, never advanced. Outstanding!

Photo ©Jean Janssen.
Just above the Coca-Cola sign, the Rally Nuns had their own box, courtesy of Mattress Mack.
Ironically, Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta where the “other team”, the Atlanta Braves, are from.

The mascot Orbit was also in the zone and played a variety of games during the night. The multi-flag one right in front of us was particularly good. We were also looking straight on to the big screen. One of my favorite shots was of the Rally Nuns. Mattress Mack, a local furniture store owner and a great supporter of the Astros, gave the group from a convent in Shiner, Texas (where my great grandparents are from and near where my dad is buried) tickets to a previous game. They were so popular that he has bought them tickets to the whole series.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Rally Nuns in action at Minute Maid Park.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Rally Nuns on the big screen in Minute Maid Park really got the fans going.

Although they never showed them on TV the night before, they highlighted the nuns up on the big screen all the time for this game. Waving their rally towels, they got the crowd going each time. I could see them in their high box in the outfield, but the close up shots on the big screen were what got the fans excited. Every team needs Rally Nuns. Go Sisters!!

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Pre game Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Maggie lines up her Buds, pre game at Minute Maid Park.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Only 3 games to go.
Photo ©Ann Janssen.
Celebrating the big win in Minute Maid Park

I guess you are noticing that my pictures are not from the play of the game…I was watching and not focusing on taking pictures. Also my text is about the rest of the experience; there are plenty of sport writers that can give you a better play by play and expert analysis of the game. All I know is that the game was fun for an Astros fan; the crowd was infectious; and there is nothing like the experience of being there. Bottom Line, we won 7-2 to tie the series. Now the play shifts to Atlanta. I am ok if the Astros take it all on the road. But if we end up back in Houston for a game 6 or 7, I’ll try to be there.

Still Celebrating
Photo ©Ann Janssen
Natasha meets a Yuli Gurriel Fan
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Passing the Fox Post-game Show.
Photo ©Meagan McCullough
Emma, Orbit, and Natasha at Minute Maid Park

We took our time leaving the stadium, given the crowd and traffic. Stopped to take a few pictures with the mural and even a costumed fan. I might be floating on this fan cloud for a while. Go Astros!

–Natasha

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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