For a two unfortunate years, I was a resident of the greater Houston metroplex. In fact, it’ll be 10 years this December that I moved there (and it was seven years ago this week that I escaped).
My stay in Houston coincided with the April 2000 opening of a new baseball stadium, then Enron Field, site of this weekend’s interleague series between the Tigers and Astros. Meanwhile, the Tigers were moving into Comerica Park.
The differences in the two ball parks spanned more than a retractable roof and high mold content. The Tigers departed hitter friendly Tiger Stadium for the vast pastures of Comerica where home runs were at a premium, thus the ESPN-concocted Comerica National Park.
Houston’s pitchers quickly saw that Enron Field would earn its contrived tag of Home Run Field, leaving them to wish for a return to the cavernous Astrodome. No Astros pitcher’s flaws were exposed more than Jose Lima.
In 1999, the final season in the Dome, Lima Time was All the Time: 21-10, 3.58 ERA in a league-leading 35 starts. He served up 30 homers and 98 earned runs that season and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting.
At Enron, he crashed back to earth: 7-16, 6.56 ERA and a league-leading 145 ER — not to mention 48 homers surrendered. The next season he was sent back to the Tigers for Dave Mlicki.
As for the stadium itself, it’s nice. In fact, I like it a lot more than my current local ball park, Chase Field. It’s a neat-looking stadium, the food is good, and you feel a lot closer to the field than you do at Comerica Park.
The worst thing about Enron/Minute Maid is that they open the roof in about the seventh inning and the groans from humidity-gob-smacked fans travels the stands like the wave. Not sure if they still do that; here’s hoping that they don’t.
On second thought, the worst thing about the place is that when you leave the park, you’re still in Houston, Texas.