With the Yankees coming into town for the final series of the season, Astros' fans are not only excited about the upcoming series, but also the possibility of seeing Mariano Rivera close out his career in Houston.
It seems an odd place for him to hang up his cleats, considering the Yankees have played just a solitary three-game series in Houston all-time, and Rivera has never pitched at Minute Maid Park. Nevertheless, if the Yankees miss out on the postseason, Rivera's final game could be in Houston, and it's creating quite a buzz with the fans.
"I am excited about seeing Mariano come into town," Astros season-ticket holder Antonio Solis said, "[Derek] Jeter and A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez], too, but mainly Mariano.
"It is exciting that possibly you can tell your kids and grandkids that you got to see Mariano play his last game ever. My dad told me how he got to see Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson play, but now I get to see Mariano. There are very few really, really good guys out there, and he is one of them."
Until this season, the Astros and Yankees had not been in the same league, and the two teams had played just 12 games against each other all-time. Nine of those were in New York. The Yankees took two of three against Houston earlier this year at Yankee Stadium, and now the two teams will finish the regular season in Houston this weekend.
"I like the American league, it's a different change of pace and you get to see teams that you haven't seen in years, like the Yankees," Astros fan Adam McNabb said. "I am excited to see Mariano, because you are getting to be a part of history seeing a shoe-in Hall of Famer play possibly his last game."
Just like many of the other Major League clubs, the Astros will honor Rivera with a special pregame ceremony. Sunday, prior to the season finale, former Yankees teammate and Astros legend Roger Clemens will return to Houston to make the presentation to Rivera. Clemens recorded his 300th win on June 13, 2003, against the Cardinals, with Rivera earning the save. Clemens will present a special gift to Rivera on behalf of the Astros, but the organization hasn't revealed yet what the gift will be because it wants to surprise Rivera.
Although many of Astros fans are excited about the possibility of seeing the all-time saves leader close out his career in Houston, it doesn't mean they are rooting for Rivera to get his final save at Minute Maid Park.
"Usually I root against the Yankees and the Red Sox, just because they are two of the juggernauts of baseball and everyone loves to see the biggest team lose," Astros fan Ronald Branch said. "It will be great to see Mariano, but hopefully he won't get a save against us.
"I wish him well up until next Friday, and then Friday, Saturday [and] Sunday, I hope he … ends his career with three blown saves against the Astros."
The Astros will finish their season against the Yankees this year, then open the 2014 season at home against New York as well.
Ryan Cantrell is an associate reporter for MLB.com.