The train that runs high above left field in celebration of Astros home runs isn't nearly as bad as Tal's Hill or the flagpole.
It doesn't at all interfere with the game, although it may tempt players to take shots at it in hopes of demolition.
Practical arguments like player safety and game obstruction don't apply here. But really, how does a train pulling a cart of oranges celebrate productivity on the baseball field?
BaseballPilgimages.com tries to make sense of this.
"The railroad theme for the ballpark sprung out of the Astros’ decision to utilize Union Station, an authentic 1911 railroad station where everything is original except the floor. Team officials estimate that approximately 60 percent of fans enter Minute Maid Park via Union Station's 45-foot-high lobby, which dates to the time period when railroads constituted the city's largest industry."
So that explains the train. The over-sized oranges that look more like pumpkins clearly tie into stadium sponsor Minute Maid.
Let's call it all a good try. I do appreciate consideration for a town's history. Unfortunately, this is not like gift giving. It's not the thought that counts when the execution is so off.
The train itself looks completely outdated, even for a station dating back to 1911. I'm thinking at least 19th century, perhaps even pre-Civil War. Somehow, I doubt that many of today's fans appreciate the subtle historical significance of the obviously old-fashioned vehicle. That those fans cheer a team whose name alludes to something much more futuristic doesn't help.
Regardless of the era, it's not like Houston was unique in featuring a train station downtown. I don't see this as a distinguishing element of the city worthy of recognizing with stadium design.
When I think Houston, trains don't exactly come to mind. Space exploration seems like a much better fit, especially considering the team name. But this is not a call to replace the train with a spaceship, just a call for the train to leave this station.
Tal's Hill and the flagpole better be all aboard.