Last night the Astros Media Relations Department hosted a group of bloggers at the game. I was lucky enough to be a part of the special event.
The evening started with some lively conversation as Astros media relations personnel, along with Mike Fast, mingled with the group on the concourse of the club level. I had never met Mr. Fast and was looking forward to talking Astros baseball with the former internet reporter turned front office guru. The conversation, of course, revolved mostly around player evaluation. Mike was extremely personable and easy to talk to and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
It was great to see a number of my blogging brethren (and sistren) again. It had been a while. The last time we were all together was at the FanFest event prior to the start of the season. It was also my first chance to meet fellow CTH writers Yoni, Tyler, and Derrick. Living in San Antonio, I don’t get the chance to attend as many games as I would like. That is also the case for several of these bloggers, many of whom drove several hours to be in attendance. These people are the most dedicated and knowledgeable fans you will ever meet.
Getting together with my peers was awesome, but the highlight of the evening was a visit by Reid Ryan. The Astros President joined the group early in the game and stayed for what seemed like several innings. “Is this the bloggers” he shouted as he approached the group with a smile.
President Ryan extended his right hand to every member of the group, making sure to get all of our names. He also introduced a friend that he had brought along, but, as giddy as a school girl in the presence of Justin Bieber, I completely missed his name. I did catch the part about his friend working with him in the minor leagues and having a son who played baseball at Texas A&M.
Although he was dressed much better than the rest of us, Ryan quickly blended in as “one of the guys”. His reputation as a fan friendly executive preceding him, I still couldn’t help being impressed. He talked about looking forward to seeing Reds first-base coach Billy Hatcher, explaining how his father’s former teammate used to attend all of his high school basketball games.
The conversation with Ryan ranged from playful to serious. He seemed genuinely interested in what everyone had to say. Topics ranged from the upgrades to the stadium sound system to the nightmare of CSN Houston. Ryan’s answers were surprisingly candid and nothing seemed forced.
When duty called for Ryan to leave the group, several people asked if he could pose for a quick photo or autograph something for them. Like I said before, these people are fans. Ryan must have spent another 10 to 15 minutes making sure everyone got what they wanted. It didn’t seem to bother him a bit. Once again, I was very impressed.
Ryan had actually entered the lion’s den and come out unscathed. These people are fans, but they are by no means pushovers. We have all been critical of the team in the past and will continue to do so whenever warranted. We don’t have the type of access to the players and coaches that members of the mainstream print, TV, and radio media have but sites like Astros County, What the Heck, Bobby?, and The Crawfish Boxes are still able to provide the best Astros coverage available. If you aren’t reading all of these sites you are truly missing out.
Last night was hopefully another step in the right direction in building the relationship between the Astros and the blogging community. I am proud to have been a part of what has to be the greatest group of Astros reporters ever assembled.
Thanks again to the Astros, Reid Ryan, Mike Fast, Steve Grande, and Chris Peixoto for making last night a special evening for all of us.