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Heading to Minute Maid Park? A Primer on Ballpark Etiquette

If you're heading out to Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros this summer, our guide to ballpark etiquette is a must read.

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There are things as a die-hard baseball fan that drive me crazy at the ballpark. Of course, it makes me nuts when the Astros make mistakes they shouldn't, but lately it's the johnny-come-lately fans and the way they behave at a game. I do want people to come cheer for the Houston Nine, but I think there should be rules that people agree to follow when they purchase a ticket to a baseball game.

I've decided to name myself the Emily Post of baseball.

If you're new to live baseball or baseball in general, give these rules a gander...and follow them. If you do, you're less likely to hear me yelling at you during a game.

#1 - Getting Up and Sitting Down: In a perfect world I would tell you to only walk to your seat or leave your seat at the half inning mark during the mid-inning changeover. But since this culture is in so much of hurry that people even honk in the drive thru lane, I'll say this: at the very least, only leave your seat or go to your seat BETWEEN batters. Do NOT under any circumstances get up or go sit down during a player's at bat, unless you're really crouching down. You are blocking someone's view of the game and frankly, if it's me...I'm bound to get more than a bit testy about it. (This also applies to standing up to wave to a friend across the ballpark while talking to them on the phone.)

#2 - The Wave: Don't do it. Okay, I'll admit that's my opinion. I detest the wave. It's the most ridiculous cheer in existence, but if you MUST do the wave, only do it when your team is at bat. You see, it's an offensive cheer. So when the Astros are on defense, doing the wave is tantamount to cheering for the other team.

#3 - Bringing a Glove: If you are still in elementary school or middle school, then by all means bring your glove to the game. After all, even I can appreciate that it is part of the childhood baseball game experience. If you are not under the age of 13? It's time to leave the glove at home. If you bring it, you just look like a tool. Trust the woman on this one.

#4 - Getting Dressed for the Game: When getting dressed for a baseball game, please remember it is a game played on grass and dirt. I know YOU will not be in the grass and dirt, but clubbing attire is not necessary and just makes you a laughingstock to the true baseball fan. Leave the stilettos at home. If you don't own an Astros shirt, no problem, a simple tee and shorts or jeans will do. But if we're playing the Reds and you show up in a Yankees shirt, I'm going to point and laugh as well. I'd rather you wear the logos of the two teams playing or no logos at all. And ladies, dresses are NOT forbidden. I wear sundresses and ball caps to the park all the time...with flip-flops.

#5 - Cheering and Jeering: Let your voice be heard. Cheer for your team, jeer at a bad call or something great the other guys did. That is all a part of the game. However, don't yell directly at opposing fans. And don't cuss - this is a family game. I must say that Astros fans are pretty good about this, but I can't say the same for others who come to Minute Maid Park. Last season (when the Astros couldn't buy a win) a Brewers fan yelled in my then 9 year old's face about how the Astros sucked and Brewers were awesome. Did that make y0u feel big and important? Not necessary or called for, so pipe down.

#6 - Arriving Late & Leaving Early: This is one of my big pet peeves. If you want to come to a baseball game, then please arrive before "Play ball!" and don't leave until you hear, "That's a winner!" or the other possible result. If you want to watch two innings of baseball, then do it at home. Perhaps this is the traditionalist in me, but I believe that winning or losing, you support your team through an ENTIRE game. Do you leave work early when you don't like what's happening? Don't be a three inning fan, be a baseball fan. Baseball fans stick around until that final out.

#7 - Walking in a Busy/Crowded Concourse: I am a cell phone addict. I text and tweet and email with ridiculous and possibly criminal frequency. But I don't do it while walking in a busy concourse. You know why? I don't want to be the person that runs over a kid, spills your $8 beer or makes you drop a $12 burger. I would guess you don't want to be that guy either, so put the phone away until you get where you are going.

#8 - Waving Homemade Signs: I am a fan of the signs. I know some people make them to try to get on tv or to get their smiling mug up on El Grande, but I think they're fun....right until you put in front of my view. Raise your sign for your favorite team or player proudly, but do it in between innings and batters and not during play. It blocks my...I mean, people's view and makes them a little angry. If they're cute and catchy you'll still get on El Grande in between innings.

#9 - Drinking and Baseball: A cold beer is almost required at baseball games, right? And I highly encourage you to enjoy your favorite while taking in the game. But please manage your intake. Nothing is as annoying or irritating than the drunk guy two rows back yelling at umpires inappropriately or getting sick right behind me (sadly that's a true story). Know your limits and respect them. We'll all have more fun that way.

#10 - Teaching the Game: I keep score at every game, as does my daughter. I started teaching her the basics of baseball at live games when she was about 4 and now at age 10 she's a walking stat sheet. Pass along your love of the game to you son or daughter who you bring. They'll enjoy the game so much more if they understand the action happening in front of them. They'll also be much more apt to sit in a seat for a full nine innings (and I do acknowledge that those with small children may not be able to adhere to rule #6 - no worries, we've all been there!) And if you happen to be sitting by me and don't understand something, just ask, most die-hards are happy to explain a rule or a call.

So there you have it. Ten simple rules to keep you and me both happy at Minute Maid Park. Any questions?

For more on Minute Maid Park and the Houston Astros, be sure to check out From The Crawfish Boxes and Baseball Nation.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.