- Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX, US
It didn’t take long for the Houston Astros to settle into their new home in the American League after having spent their first 51 seasons on the Senior Circuit. The winner of eight divisional titles and three Wild Card berths, the Astros claimed the franchise's first World Series title in 2017. Houston is now the first team in MLB history to have won a pennant in both the National League and American League. GM Jeff Luhnow has quietly built a perennial contender by filling his lineup with young top-shelf talent, and Astros tickets have never been in higher demand at the 41,676-seat Minute Maid Park, home to the ‘Stros since 2000.
MLB insiders knew the kind of potential the Astros had heading into 2015, but few expected them to go all the way to the playoffs, where they snapped a nine-year postseason drought. They went on to defeat the New York Yankees in the Wild Card playoff before losing in five games to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. Just two years later, the team Sports Illustrated predicted would win the 2017 World Series did just that, led by MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. With a pitching staff bolstered by veteran Justin Verlander, the team is only getting better, and should be in contention for years to come.
The Astros were founded in 1962 as the Colt.45s, and have been a central part of the Houston sports scene ever since. After playing in the Astrodome for decades, the team moved to Minute Maid Park in 2000, and the ballpark has already been the backdrop for some epic moments, including trips to the 2005 and 2017 World Series. With names like Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruz, J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, Don Wilson, Joe Morgan and Randy Johnson having suited up in the team’s trademark orange/blue/white over the years, the Astros have built a baseball tradition that keeps fans coming back for more.
The Astros got off to such a poor start in 2005 (15-30) that the Houston Chronicle wrote them off with the headline: "RIP 2005 Astros." But the team was anything but lifeless. From that point until the end of July, Houston went 42-17. July saw the best single month record in the club’s history at 22-7, and anchored by the pitching staff of Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens, they clinched a Wild Card berth on the final day of the regular season, becoming the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to qualify for the postseason after being 15 games under .500.
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