Apr 042013

Baseball, Beer and a Babe? An Opening Night Excursion

So, as some of you know by now there was a large group of people that went down to Houston to watch our Texas Rangers take on the newest AL West Rival, the Houston Astros. Of those people, three of them are from right here at Baseballdo; Jasen Southward (the man), Dustin Dietz (the bunting advocate) and myself (the pretend writer) and since the three of us ended up hanging together most of the weekend, I’d like to give you a brief rundown of our weekend so that you can see how much fun the trip really was. That way, you’ll know what you need to do to make it to our next trip!

The Beginning

It was back towards the beginning of Spring Training 2013 when a friend approached me about an idea to get a group together to head down to Houston for Opening Night. It started out as one of those “wouldn’t it be cool if… “ moments and then it quickly came to fruition.

Jennifer C. Brown told me that she knew a ticket rep in Houston and could probably hook us up, so I said, “What the hell, let’s do it, I’m down.”

It started out as a simple 20 tickets because we were unsure of who we could get to go being on Easter Sunday and having to travel and get hotel arrangements made. We had 20 tickets gone within the hour. It jumped to 40, then 60 and before we knew it, we had 100 tickets reserved and paid for. We even had shirts made so that we could rule our entire section once we got there. After adding a few more tickets here and there, we ended up with 114 people strong. We definitely represented the Rangers very well.

Saturday – The Pre Game

A couple of other buddies and myself arrived in Houston around 5pm on Saturday evening, got checked into the hotel and decided to go grab some grub before an organized group meet up. Right off the bat, the first place we look up and walk to, is nowhere to be found. It just doesn’t even exist. So we scramble to find a new place, walk there…. Closed. Really? It’s a Saturday Night Houston! Why are you a restaurant in downtown Houston, closed on a Saturday Night? Come to find out, EVERYTHING was closed for the ENTIRE WEEKEND due to it being Easter. Hey, I can understand being closed on Easter Sunday but come on! The Clippers were in town as well as the Rangers. Houston failed big time in this aspect, at least to me anyways.

We finally find an overpriced Mexican Restaurant to eat at. Naturally, being the only thing open, it’s pretty busy. After dinner, as we are getting ready to get up and leave, I look up and standing right in front of the booth next to us is Rangers Pitching Coach Mike Maddux with his wife and who I assume to be his daughter. I mean, it could be some party chick for all I know, I don’t know what the guy does in his spare time. Anyway, being that he is with his family I didn’t really want to disturb him and be “that guy” so I decided that while we were waiting for our check that I would start talking Ranger baseball a little too loud in hopes that I could distract his mind from the menu and engage us instead. Yea, that didn’t work. Dude was a like fat kid in a candy store; oblivious to his surroundings.

Meanwhile, back at the Four Seasons Hotel, Dustin and some of the others have already met up at the hotel bar and started to pre-game. About the same time that Maddux sits down, I start seeing pictures surface on twitter from Dustin’s brother, Austin, which show the players walking in. Beltre, Wash, Gentry and even Jon Blake. At this point, I know it’s time to go. So we pay the check and off we go to the hotel.

Once there, I start to get introduced to the people that I don’t yet know. Then I was introduced to this girl. A pretty girl even but at this moment, I had Rangers on my mind. One by one they start to appear. Andy Hawkins, Gary Pettis (who later becomes our best friend), Josh Frazier, David Murphy, Joe Nathan, Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis, Wash and even Nolan Ryan all appear at some point albeit brief.

A couple of the folks in our group decided to talk to some of the players/coaches and one person decided it would be a good idea to invite Gary Pettis out to the Flying Saucer with us a little later on that evening. Clearly the invite was a joke because Pettis would never take us up on that right?

So after about an hour of staring down Joe Nathan and Derek Holland having dinner, I started to feel like a dirty groupie outside a rock bands dressing room in hopes of catching a sweat bead off their hair. We decided to bounce and head over to the Flying Saucer.

The place is packed. I run upstairs to try and find a table big enough to fit the 20 people we have going on this excursion. There was plenty of room in an area in the back but “Jeff” was having a birthday party. Problem is, “Jeff” reserved a spot for about 40 people and only had about 10 friends. So we crammed into two small tables since it was all that was left.

There she is again, that pretty girl from the hotel that I was introduced to. Now she’s sitting next to me at this bar. Now that the Rangers aren’t on my mind, I start to make some small talk, nothing to extravagant. About the time we get our drinks, “Jeff” decides that no one likes him and his party is lame and he and his group leave. We immediately take over the entire area and fill out the whole section that was supposed to be for “Jeff.” Now, as new seating arrangements are happening, I don’t want to be the creepy guy that comes in and sits directly next to the pretty girl I’ve only known for a couple of hours, so I sit across from her.

The night is progressing, lots of fun is being had and even more than just small talk with the pretty girl.
Then it happens. The improbable. In walks Gary Pettis. NO WAY! Gary freaking Pettis is actually joining us at a bar?! How freaking cool is this?! Houston patrons have no clue what’s going on. They are wondering who we are all clamoring over. Shut up and go root for the Dynamo.

While everyone decides to hit up Pettis right away, I hang back until everyone gets their turn before I swoop in. When I finally do get my shot, I figure I’m going to drop some straight hardcore knowledge bombs on Pettis and tell him how to run that third base line this year. Well, unbeknownst to me, Pettis is clearly the superior baseball mind. I did ask him one question and his answer I thought was very interesting. I told him that a lot of fans think that since we lost Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, that the team would regress this year and asked him what he thought about it…


He says this while looking at me like I was crazy. He further elaborated saying that we are a better team now because we are a more versatile team and bring a different type of game to the field instead of just a power, swing for the fences game.

My night has been made. I couldn’t have asked for a better answer.

Pettis decides that he’s had enough of everyone buying him drinks and decides to call it a night. Or he was drunk, one of the two, probably the latter. A few more side conversations with group members and people start to call it a night. Me? I find myself still chatting with that pretty girl from the hotel. I hear her say to her friend that she’s not ready to go yet because she hasn’t found a date to the game.

Challenge accepted.

I jump in and immediately suggest that I’m available, jokingly of course, because if she says no then I need a way to save face right? RIGHT?

“Oh really? Ok then it’s a date.”

Yea I figured you’d say no, I was totally kidding any…. I’m sorry what? You were being serious? And you said yes? Well then I was totally being serious.

So finally, Jasen, Dustin, Dustin’s Wife, his sister in law (the pretty girl who is now my date for the game), myself and a few others decide to wrap it up and we all walk together back to our separate hotels. While walking, I find myself talking with; yup you guessed it, the pretty girl. I mean after all, she is my date now. I have to put forth some sort of effort. We all go our separate ways for the evening and decide to meet up again in the AM for some more pre gaming.

Sunday – More Pre Game

After wondering around downtown so my buddy could find an ATM that clearly didn’t exist, (second time something we looked up didn’t exist) we find a pizza place open and sit down for some lunch. I call up Dustin and the gang and invite them over and we all enjoy some pizza that was a cross between Indian food and Italian food. It was pretty good too.

We decided to mosey on down to the “Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park Opening Day Festival” and see what all it had to offer.

The $26 Boomstick hotdog at Rangers Ballpark was bigger than their “Festival.”

Sunday – The Game

The game sucked. We got our asses handed to us on a silver platter on National Television by the worst team in the Major Leagues and that’s all I’m going to say about the game. Justin Maxwell made it pretty high up my “I can’t tolerate you” list by the end of the night too.

The Astros fans really took me off guard and honestly, I’ve got to say that I lost a little respect for them. I mean you are the worst team in baseball coming off back to back 100+ loss seasons. Hey, I understand you want to defend your turf and represent your team and all but to tell us that the Rangers suck and that we wasted our money coming to Houston just to see them lose and we all needed to shut up and go back to Dallas is a little backwards to me. Maybe it’s not what they said, maybe it’s how the said it. Maybe it stung more because they really did whip our butts.

Not all was lost at the game though, being is that I had an extra ticket; I invited the pretty girl to come and sit by me for a portion of the game. (I didn’t want her to abandon her sister and brother in law). She obliged and joined me for about 2-3 innings on two separate occasions. After the game was over, we all moved down to enjoy some fireworks, which are my favorite. Fireworks, baseball AND a pretty girl?

Baseball, Beer and a Babe? An Opening Night Excursion

The night is still young so we decided to go get more beer and head on back to my hotel room to drink it up and chat the night way. And by we, I mean about 10 of us including Dustin and Jasen. I notice that the pretty girl decides to cuddle up next to me. Who am I to tell a pretty girl not to do that?

So after several hours of talking and drinking, we decide to order some late night pizza, and by late night I mean 2am. Flakey’s Pizza was the place and it was the best damn pizza I’ve ever had on a Saturday night at 3am.

Oh and they offered a $10 Ho. Don’t ask.

The night comes to an end and everyone goes their separate ways. Oh the pretty girl you ask? Well I guess what happened when I walked her out will have to stay between her and me now wont it?

Overall I would have to say that the trip was a gigantic success. I had more fun than I had had in a long time. Everything from the people, to the game made this trip a fun and memorable trip. It was my first time seeing my Rangers play on the road so I didn’t know what to expect. If I get to give advice to Gary Pettis every road trip, then I’ll quit my job and do it again! It was so much fun and such a huge success that we are already planning another trip. I can’t wait to go again.

And then there was this pretty girl.

Follow me on twitter @bcasey55

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