Astros Fan Fest

Astros Hall of Fame announcement headlines annual Fan Fest

Photo by Paul St. Martin

Astros fans were treated to an oasis of hardball in an otherwise cold winter devoid of any baseball. Minute Maid Park opened its doors to the public for the Astros annual Fan Fest event.

The gates opened at 11 am to the free event filled with autograph sessions, photo ops, and Q&A forums with some of the Astros' most famous players. For those willing to spend the cash, fans were given the opportunity to throw bullpen sessions, play catch in the outfield, or take a swing in the batting cages.

Shortly after opening to the public a press conference was broadcast throughout the park announcing the establishment of the Astros Hall of Fame. The hall will replace the outfield concourse currently referred to as "Home Run Alley," and inductees will receive a bright orange Hall of Fame blazers and plaques.

As the afternoon lingered on, the lines stretched further and further with fans looking to get a piece of Astros history. Out in right field, fans lined up for the annual "garage sale," where excess inventory from the previous season's promotions are laid out on fold out tables with bargain price tags slapped on them. In the team store located at first base, fans were scrambled to lock down their own piece of authentic Astros memorabilia. From game used jerseys to ballpark furniture, and even down to five-gallon buckets of MLB authenticated dirt from Tal's Hill, it was easy to see that there was something for everyone.

While most lines provided Astros fans with an opportunity to own a part of Astros history, one particular line on the third base line concourse provided fans with an opportunity to glimpse into the future. Those in attendance were able to sample the one of the newest beer recipes from Karbach Brewing Company, the Crawford Bock. The new beer represents a unique collaboration between the Astros and Houston's largest brewery. Fans unable to sample the new recipe will have little trouble finding it, as the installation of a field-level Karbach bar behind home plate has already begun.

The bevy of new announcements and additions to the ballpark came as a welcome surprise to all. From the young fans running the basepaths in the infield to the old fans lounging in the Crawford Boxes happily ruminating in the simple fact that they were back at the ballpark, it was apparent the the Astros latest iteration of Fan Fest was one of the most successful implementations in the past several years.

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Thurs, Sept. 24 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33) vs. TEX: Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53)

Fri, Sept. 25 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78) vs. TEX: Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53)

Sat, Sept. 26 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87)

Sun, Sept. 27 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07)

STORYLINES

Season finale - The Astros will wrap up their regular season with their four game set in Arlington at the new Globe Life Field. Houston's magic number rests at two, as the Angels still have a puncher's chance. With Houston's miserable 8-20 road record, the postseason is anything but clinched.

Where's the offense? - The Astros offense has left a lot to be desired over the last few weeks, scoring more than three runs just twice in their last ten games. The bats really need to get going, especially if the team expects to do anything in the playoffs. George Springer has been the only reliable bat of late, with the performances of Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and, most of all, Jose Altuve, leaving a lot to be desired.

Playoff seeding - If the playoffs started today, the Astros would face off with their division rivals in Oakland. There's an infinite number of possibilities over the next four games, but the Astros can see themselves finish anywhere from the fifth seed to out of the playoffs entirely. Any of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland could be first round foes depending on how the cards fall.

PREDICTION

Lance Lynn has been one of the better pitchers in the game for a few years now, Kyle Cody is an intriguing young arm with good stuff, and Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson gave the Astros fits in Houston just last week. It isn't a recipe for success for Houston. The Astros win 1 of 4, which combined with the Angels and Mariners failing to take care of business, is enough to get Houston into the playoffs.

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