By Paul Muth
Once every year, I make it a point to go to at least one baseball game alone. No distractions, no half-interested seat fillers asking you what the count is. It’s just you and the game. It’s refreshing.
My solo game happened this past Saturday night against the Yankees. The decision to attend my 14th game of the season came at the very last moment when I managed to snag a nosebleed ticket for $25(!!!).
When I arrived to my seat, a lady awaited a few seats away, guarding her and her absent friends’ claim. I sat in my seat.
“There’s already someone sitting there, sir,” she explained to me with more attitude than anyone should have when disputing a seat 10 rows from the top of the ballpark.
“Well, whoever it is, they’re not in the right seat,” I replied as I flashed my ticket.
I know how games like this work. People snatch seats that aren’t theirs, or they’re new to the park and can’t read numbers.
She read my ticket and turned away, defeated and confused. Then she dove into her phone and immediately started texting whoever’s seat I had rightfully usurped.
Whatever. I’m just going to watch some baseball.
The two other ladies finally returned, ready for a showdown. They sat one seat away, now that I had arrived, and within 5 minutes one of the ladies pushed back against my claim once again.
“It’s so weird that they would issue two tickets for the same seat,” she remarked as casually as possible.
I still hadn’t put my ticket away. I offered it once again for verification. Then she pulled her printed ticket out to compare.
“This is section 406. Your ticket says 405,” I explained.
Their faces melted into instant guilt. Within seconds the tone had gone from “This [insert unsavory term for seat stealer],” to “WE’RE SO SORRY.” I told them not to worry about it and enjoy the game.
The gentleman to the left of me had watched the entire thing go down and was doing his best to hide the smirk plastered across his face. As the game went on, we began a conversation and I’ll be damned if I didn’t run into a fellow Army vet who had also cheered on the mighty Doosan Bears Baseball Club of Seoul, South Korea for a year.
He was on a work trip from Colorado. I told him he needed to go grab some Torchy’s from the center field, or he’d be doing himself a disservice. When in Rome, right?
To think, my whole plan was to watch the damn game by myself. I guess, however, when the Yanks smack a grand slam en route to a five run 6th inning, you try to find something else to pay attention to.
After another Yankee run in the top of the 7th stretched New York’s lead to 6-3, I figured it was as good a time as any to grab another beer and wander around the ballpark. I was all alone, so I could go do whatever I wanted.
I found myself in center field at the Budweiser Brewhouse bar in the bottom of the 8th. I figured I’d grab one last beer and close out the game with the rowdy outfield gremlins. The atmosphere rarely disappoints.
What I wasn’t expecting was the four run rally, capped off by Yuli Gurriel’s two-run double off of fellow Cuban and notorious fireballer, Aroldis Chapman. The entire outfield deck exploded, and I realized that not only had I just been a part of one of the Astros’ best games this season, but I was also part of it in what I learned that evening was the best section to be a part of a game like that. Absolute pandemonium. Just like I like it.
Let’s get to it.
The last time they lost a series was June 19th, against the Red Sox. Instead of backsliding, they followed that up with a four game road sweep of Oakland. They outscored them to the tune of 29-15 with the mighty rotation of Peacock, Martes, Fiers, and Paulino. They have yet to lose a series since. This weekend the Blue Jays pose an annoying roadblock; a sub .500 team that the Astros struggle with despite an MLB all-time record tying road record of 31-9 after 40 decisions.
Look. Split the series at the very least, and ride into the all-star break with 60 wins. I’ll be fine with that. #firstworldbaseballproblems
Free agency is in full swing, and in the midst of all the Carmelo “will they or won’t they,” suspense the Rockets went and scooped up a solid two-way forward in P.J. Tucker. Defense is always a need with this group, so that move gets my thumbs up. They also signed Chinese standout Zhou Qi to the team after drafting him in the second round in 2016. The dude’s 7’2” and has a jumpshot. Imagine what Chris Paul and James Harden can do if this guy manages to open the lane up with a reliable jumper. In the words of GM Daryl Morey, “…Zhou Qi has the potential to be the best Chinese player since Yao Ming.”
That’d be pretty neat. He’ll have his growing pains, but could end up being fun to watch if he actually cracks what looks to be a pretty good lineup.
Oh, and they managed to retain Old Man Nene, in spite of a weird age-related contract hiccup.
All of these are important moves, and all of them are improving the team. We’re still nowhere near contention, however.
As of this writing, we are roughly two weeks away from the start of training camp (July 25). That will be followed by 15 days of over-reporting about players practicing before they finally suit up August 9th against the Carolina Panthers. It’s still too early to give them much attention, especially while Crazy Uncle Bill (O’Brien) continues to try and convince us that Deshaun Watson doesn’t have a chance to be the week one starter. Whatever, Bill.
Bro Move of the Week:
Editor’s note: Paul Muth is an Army vet who tends to talk a lot, so when his friends tell him to stop, he either writes or talks to a microphone and calls it a podcast. He writes better with a beard and looks better with a beer. Or something like that. Follow him on twitter at @abumnamedpaul