A HOME RUN TIP

Here's how to avoid the longest lines at Minute Maid

Here's how to avoid the longest lines at Minute Maid
Photo courtesy of Aramark

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Here's a sports tip you won't find anywhere else.

When the Astros return to Minute Maid Park for Game 6 (if necessary) or Game 7 (it may take that long to dismiss the Yankees, they're good), don't rush to the concession stands the minute you enter the stadium.

Where and when to eat during the game

According to my source, the playoff games are so intense that fans aren't leaving their seats for food like during the regular season. If you wait until the second inning, there won't be any lines at the concession stands. That goes for the main concourse and the upper deck. I was at Game 1 and ordered by hot dog and Coke Zero (nice touch) with zero wait. The only food stand with lines from first pitch to walk-off homer is Torchy's Tacos, which curiously is missing an apostrophe in its Minute Maid Park sign. (When it comes to tacos, grammar is every bit as important as guacamole.) Every other stand, though, is clear sailing from second inning on.

I am giving this tip against my own interests and better judgment. It may come back to bite me. I remember…

Worst best tip ever

When I arrived in Houston, I rented a house near Gessner and I-10. There was a supermarket two streets over and every night at 10, they sold all their remaining fried chicken for 10 cents a piece. Which fit right into my budget. (Newspaper writers don't exactly earn salaries like inexperienced interns at City Hall in Houston.)

I would get to the supermarket at 9:55 pm, dawdle at the deli counter asking silly questions about potato salad, and at 10 pm sharp, I cleaned them out of fried chicken. Whatever they had, I bought. It was such an incredible bargain, for a while there, my diet consisted mainly of fried chicken and potato salad.

Stupid me, I wrote about the great fried chicken bargain. I guess I was more popular then than I am now, but soon there was a crowd hanging around the deli counter, counting down to 10 pm like it was New Year's Eve in Times Square. Two nights later, the supermarket ended the dime deal. Darn it, I should have kept my trap shut. If I go to an Astros game later this week, there better not be a line for hot dogs in the fourth inning.

I'll just say this: if I were a dedicated civil servant for the City of Houston, and the mayor hired an intern with barely any real work experience at twice my salary, I'd quit. The only thing more insulting to city staffers is the mayor's ridiculous explanation. Even bigger problem: the other candidates, may be worse.

Getting drafty with the Texans

Two months ago, Fred Faour wrote an excellent piece in SportsMap about the Texans' fair-to-middling track record with their third-round picks during the Bill O'Brien era. Faour started with 2014 and ran right up to 2019, a few hits, a couple of incompletes, but mostly busts.

It would be interesting how Faour rated the Texans third-round selection in 2013. That pick was Brennan Williams, an offensive tackle from North Carolina. Williams unfortunately suffered a knee injury and never got into a game for the Texans or any other team. What's he doing now? Last week, the WWE introduced a new lineup of announcers for its Monday Night Raw show. One of the commentators is an extremely large man going by the name Dio Maddin. That's former Texans 3rd-round pick Brennan Williams.

Continue on CultureMap to hear Ken Hoffman's thoughts on Daryl Morey.

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Are the Astros eyeing a massive trade? Composite Getty Image.

It's no secret, the Houston Astros are on a hot streak and have evened their record at 40-40 after winning seven straight games. But there's always room for improvement, and Astros GM Dana Brown has said repeatedly that the club will be buyers at the trade deadline.

Just this week, Astros insider Michael Schwab posted that Houston has interest in trading for Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., according to sources.

And Schwab has been right about these things before. He was the first to report that the Rangers were trading for Max Scherzer last season.

But this report made us wonder, should upgrading first base be the team's top priority? The club is down to four starting pitchers, and Mauricio Dubon has done a decent job at first since the departure of Jose Abreu.

Plus, dealing with the Blue Jays could get tricky, with former Astros GM James Click in Toronto's front office. We highly doubt he's looking to help the Astos after Jim Crane allegedly pushed him out the door after the 2022 World Series winning season.

And let's not forget, teams like the Yankees have deeper farm systems that could provide the Blue Jays with a bigger haul than Houston. The Astros at a minimum would likely have to trade away a quality prospect or two and player on the roster like Jake Meyers or Chas McCormick.

Oh, and we haven't even discussed the money. Guerrero Jr. is making about $20 million this year, and is under contract next season as well. A move like this would push the Astros over the second luxury tax threshold in all likelihood.

Pitching wins championships

The Astros currently have seven pitchers on the IL, and Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers aren't expected back for another month at the earliest. Justin Verlander is also dealing with a neck injury, with no timetable set for his return.

Not to mention, Spencer Arrighetti and Ronel Blanco have never thrown more than 125 innings in any professional season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.

Which is why we wouldn't be surprised if the interest in Guerrero is a smoke screen, and the Astros are really focused on adding pitching. However, it is fun to imagine him in the middle of the Astros lineup.

Finally, it may be time to have a discussion about how quickly the Astros are bringing pitchers back from injury. Dana Brown has admitted they may have rushed JP France back a little too soon. He, too, is done for the season and expected to have shoulder surgery next week.

This leads us to question if the season-ending injuries to Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy could have been prevented.

Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be on the lookout for bonus episodes on Thursdays!


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