EVERYBODY WINS!

Top-tier Astros hacks to help you finesse the game at Minute Maid

Top-tier Astros hacks to help you finesse the game at Minute Maid
It's a win-win! Composite Getty Image.

How much does it cost to attend an Astros baseball game?

According to the just released 2023 Team Marketing Report of Fan Cost, a family of four has to shell out $343.72 at Minute Maid Park to catch a game. That’s the third-highest price tag in all of Major League Baseball, trailing only the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

This cost analysis data is courtesy of Sporting Post and runs a tab of four “non-premium” tickets, four hot dogs, two small beers, two small soft drinks, two team hats and one parking space.

Sporting Post put the average price for Astros tickets at $58.61 per person, hot dogs $6 each, small beers $7.50 each, small sodas $5.50 each, Astros caps $24.99 each and parking $9.30.

Let’s crunch the numbers and get real.

I do not sit in the press box with a media pass. I go to games and I pay for tickets. I do not pay $58 for a ticket, however. For example, right now you can go on the Astros website and buy tickets for the June 19th game against the Mets – upper deck behind first base, third row, on the aisle, for $37 each. They’re good seats. And you don’t have to deal with secondary market entrepreneurs.

I don’t need to buy an Astros hat, certainly not a new one each time I go to a game. I have never paid for parking. There’s free parking downtown after 7 p.m. and you can find a space if you’re willing to walk a few blocks. You probably can use the exercise. Plus, unlike some other MLB towns, public transportation will get you near the ballpark.

I buy a hot dog and soda. I know they’re overpriced but a dog and Coke (or beer) are part of the baseball experience. I’m worth it. Fans are allowed to bring food, in reasonable amounts, to Minute Maid Park. Hot dogs supposedly taste best at a ballpark. I’ve never heard that about a tuna fish sandwich. Minute Maid Park is not a high school cafeteria.

I’m not an Astros apologist for their high prices. But …

You want a winning team? Pretty things cost money. It’s the difference between going to dinner at McDonald’s or an upscale steakhouse. The Astros are filet mignon. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a doggie bag.

Yes, it’s expensive to attend a game at Minute Maid Park, but the Astros are putting out a quality product. They’re the best thing going in Houston. Why stop there? The Astros are the most successful pro sports team in America over the past seven years. You know the numbers: four American League pennants, six ALCS appearances in a row, four World Series appearances and two championships.

You get what you pay for. You want the Astros to sign Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez to long-term deals? Those players won’t come cheap.

Signing slugging first baseman Jose Abreu to a three-year deal took a ton of money. OK, bad example. But you get my point.

It’s not like the Astros are printing money with their local TV contract, like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. The Dodgers’ deal is worth upwards of $250 million. The Astros deal with AT&T SportsNet is worth about $73 million. For comparison, the Rangers’ local TV deal is worth about $111 million. I get it, the Dallas designated market is larger than Houston, but it’s still annoying when Dallas gets anything bigger or better than us.

Astros fans love their team and show out. The Astros are averaging 37,111 fans so far this year. That’s in the upper echelon of baseball, and 4,000 more fans per game over last year.

According to Forbes, the Astros are worth $2.25 billion (with a B), up 14 percent from 2022. Jim Crane and his support group bought the Astros for $610 million (with an M) in 2011.

The cheapest deal in baseball is offered by the Baltimore Orioles. A family of four can attend an O’s game for $198, according to Sporting Post data.

Now we enter the Bizarro World, or as they call it out west, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The A’s charge the 11th highest prices to attend a game - $240 for a family of four to watch the historically awful A’s lose game after game after game after (tell me when to stop).

On the other hand, you can enjoy quiet private time with your spouse and children in the empty upper deck. The A’s are averaging only 8,600 “fans” per game.

You know me and attendance figures. I’m calling bull on 8,600 fans.

I’m saying more like 5,000 … and I’ll still take the under.

For a complete list of how much it costs a family of four to attend a game in all 30 MLB ballparks, click on: https://www.sportingpost.com/2023/05/30/best-ballparks-for-families/

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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I 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.

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