Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mediocre, TX goes to the ol’ ball g-a-m-e

Haven’t been to a Round Rock Express game in years, but I can imagine that, since it’s Austin’s team, the Express has got a ball park that’s better than the rest. Yes, they have hot dogs, but these are artisan franks made from antelope and bison sausage with grilled horseradish slaw. More than 20 food booths serve everything from chicken in a cornbread waffle cone to ahi tuna frittatas.

Before every game, the “Blues on the Mound” stage is set up facing the crowd and such top local bands as Carolyn Wonderland, the Gourds and Ray Wylie Hubbard delight the earlybirds. Or fans can get a tattoo from one of three shops on the premises. (Full-sleeves for season ticket holders only.) For those who want memories without the pain, there’s a photo booth, where, for $10 a photo, fans can stick their head in a cut-out of Nolan Ryan wailing away on them with his fists. (Part of the proceeds go to the Robin Ventura Foundation.)

The ballpark features spring-fed Leslie Cove in left center. And the cool thing about the pressbox: all unpaid bloggers. They eat up the Seventh Inning Sketch, where a rotating cast of local celebrities such as Bobby Bones, Turk Pipkin, and Matt Bearden get to yell out suggestions for an improv comedy troupe. More laughs come from the roving “ironic facial hair cam.”

Every year, national attention comes to the Dell Diamond with the Major League Baseball talent scout combine. This is where careers are made. But in recent years such corporate-sponsored superstars as Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder have been dropping in and taking some attention away from the up-and-coming players.

But nobody can deny that it’s the diamond party of the year, especially if you have a wristband to get into the Fader Bullpen, where the booze is free.

After you’ve been to a Round Rock Express game, you wouldn’t want to go to any other ballpark in America. It’s the coolest place in all of sports.

But it’s still just minor league baseball.

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