Text and photos by Joe Mock
All rights reserved
I know, I know. Fox would’ve preferred to have the Yankees (big TV markets on the East Coast) play the Dodgers (big TV markets on the West Coast) in the 2017 World Series … but the Astros ruined that.
So what we have instead are two teams that played fantastic baseball throughout the 2017 season (aside from an early-September tailspin by the Dodgers), with the Astros winning 101 games during the regular season, and the Dodgers capturing a big-league-best 104 games. The Dodgers’ record is even more remarkable when you consider that in between their 92nd and 93rd wins, they managed to lose 11 straight — their longest losing streak since moving from Brooklyn.
That’s baseball for ya.
So the 2017 Fall Classic is taking place in (first) a stadium that’s hosted it eight times before and (starting in Game 3) a park that has hosted it once.
That’s right. Minute Maid Park isn’t hosting its first World Series. Casual fans will be forgiven for failing to remember that the Astros made the briefest appearance possible — a four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox — in 2005. Minute Maid Park hosted Games 3 and 4.
That Game 3 was memorable because it was the first Fall Classic game ever in Texas. It was also the longest World Series contest ever. The 14-inning affair lasted five hours and 41 minutes, as the White Sox won 7-5. The following night, Chicago finished the sweep with a tense 1-0 win.
Over the coming seasons, the Astros lapsed into disrepair, reaching their nadir when they lost 106 games in 2011 and 107 a year later.
A switch from the National League to the American, along with shrewd player development and really high draft choices, allowed the team to return to respectability, culminating in a trip to the 2017 World Series.
Take a look at our “tale of the tape” of the two parks in this year’s Fall Classic. We’ve provided this (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) comparison every autumn since 2003. The photos of Minute Maid Park and Dodger Stadium are, by the way, from this season.
Minute Maid Park
|Called The Ballpark at Union Station while under construction, Enron Field was its name when it opened in 2000||Year opened||Following four years of home games at LA’s massive Coliseum, Dodger Stadium opened on April 10, 1962|
|The stadium was built on the western edge of downtown Houston, in an area that desperately needed upgrading||Site||The park is often dubbed Chavez Ravine, because that’s what this valley was called before baseball arrived|
|41,168. Its capacity exceeded 42,000 before a series of renovations||Seating capacity||56,000. Its biggest crowd ever was 57,099 on opening day of 2009|
|Natural grass (Platinum TE paspalum)||Playing surface||Natural grass (Santa Ana Bermuda grass)|
|Thankfully, the flagpole and Tal’s Hill in CF were removed in 2017. This allowed new clubs and shorter dimensions||Special features||$100M in renovations in 2013 ushered in new concessions, bathrooms and entryways|
|HOK, now called Populous||Designed by||Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury|
|$250 million||Cost to build||$23 million. You got a lot more for your money back then|
|One, a losing effort in 2005||World Series hosted||Eight, the most recent in 1988|
|Never ever||Last World Series won by home team||1988, highlighted by a hobbled Kirk Gibson hitting a HR for the ages|
|Only once, in 2004. The Astros’ Roger Clemens was the starter for the NL||All Star Games hosted||Oddly, only once in 1980. The Dodgers did host it in the Coliseum in 1959|
|The railroad train high above the outfield. The retractable roof. The Crawford Boxes||Landmarks||The Pavilion seats in the outfield. The view of the San Gabriel Mountains|
|Pitchers love it, because it yields the fewest runs in the Majors. The number of HRs, though, is average||2017 park factors
|The number of HRs hit here is almost exactly the MLB average, but it yields the fewest triples of the 30 parks|
|Following two disastrous seasons with 100+ losses, attendance has rebounded with boisterous fans||Filled with||Sophisticated fans who are well-known for arriving late to the games|