As a result of my recent heart problems (three stents placed), I've got to exercise more. I used to spend a lot of time on a stationary bike but chest pain (that's why I needed stents) curtailed that activity. Well today its back on the bike. Riding a stationary bike has to be about the most boring thing one can do in the privacy of his own home. I need some stimulus. So to that end, I've decided to take a virtual tour of Major League (and some minor league) baseball parks. Google Maps has a new feature which gives you walking directions. I'm going to be using those to guide my trip. As I travel between parks, I'll highlight the players who were born in any of the towns I pass through. Since I live in the Houston area, I figure I'll start out at Minute Maid Park where the Astros play. Since I've actually been there, I've got some photos I've taken. And the first player I'm going to highlight is Michael Bourn who plays for the Astros and was actually born in Houston. At the end I'll put a map which shows my travel plans.
Originally called Enron Field, Minute Maid park opened in 2000 and replaced the famous Astrodome. The Astrodome had been a fixed roof park, the first of its kind. Minute Maid has a retractable roof for the 2-3 days a year when the weather allows outdoor baseball to be played (actually spring and fall games are usually quite pleasant with the roof open). The park was the site of the 2005 All-Star game which I got to go to. I took these following pictures at that time. After Enron collapsed (the less said about that the better), Minute Maid bought the naming rights. It turns out that Minute Maid orange juice has it's headquarters in Houston. Who knew?Michael Bourn had originally been drafted by the Astros in 2000, but did not sign. The Phillies drafted him (their #4 pick) in 2003. In 2007, he was traded by the Phillies to the Astros for Brad Lidge. Lidge is having a fabulous year for the Phillies. He is 40 for 40 in save attempts. Bourn is not having a great year for the Astros. He is generally their lead-off man but with a .244 batting average and a .285 on-base percentage, he isn't really getting the job done. He's stolen 44 bases (he's been caught 10 times), but has committed too many base running errors.
Here is the first leg of the trip. My next Major League Park will be the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Texas. My next stop will be Spring, Texas, the birthplace of Josh Beckett. From their I'm going to detour to Round Rock, Texas to visit the minor league home of Nolan Ryan's team, the Round Rock Express. After Arlington, I'm not sure of my direction but it will probably be west. The trip to Spring is 22.9 miles. It was a good first day doing 6.05 miles and no chest pain and no shortness of breath. I could have gone further but decided not to push my creaky knees too much too soon.