Kansas City Royals
W: J. Guthrie
L: C. Thielbar
S: G. Holland
Today I took a tour of the park before watching the Twins drop a tough one to the Royals. My second day at Target Field ended up being more fun than my first. My fancy weather app predicted thunderstorms all night, but it could not have been a more beautiful day for a ball game. Between the tour and the game I hung out in downtown Minneapolis where I watched the uneventful trade deadline come and go from the comfort of a nice Irish Pub. There was nothing particularly special about today, but after the last couple of weeks of driving I was happy to have a nice leisurely day to enjoy some baseball.
Although the tour of the stadium was informative, the access to the park was severely limited. Certain stadiums do not give tours on game days at all, but for those who do, it is standard to allow fans onto the warning track and into the dugout. I understand not being able to wander through the clubhouses while they are occupied, but not being allowed on the field roughly eight hours before first pitch was disappointing. Aside from that minor gripe the rest of the tour was great. We walked through the press box and the Budweiser Roof Deck before ending at the club level suites and private dining areas. The walls throughout the stadium are adorned with amazing artwork representing Twins players and coaches past and present. There is also memorabilia around every corner honoring past Twins greats like Kirby Puckett and Bert Blyleven.
Of course one can not talk about this stadium without mentioning Minnie and Paul above center field. This giant version of the Twins original logo sits high atop the field waiting for any reason to light up and shake hands. The two ballplayers featured in the logo represent the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul with the Mississippi River flowing between. Unlike some stadiums (I'm looking at you Miami), this animatronic contraption does not just wait for home runs. There are several lights and movements that are put in motion during the game when the home team does anything from score a run to strike out an opposing batter.
After the tour I decided to hang around downtown Minneapolis and grab some lunch. I found a bar called Lyon's Pub that was playing ESPN on one screen and the MLB Network on another. As today is the trade deadline I wanted to make sure I could keep up on who was moving where. With the Twins being in the “sellers” category I figured there may be some new players on the field tonight taking the place of people like Justin Morneau. The deadline came and went without much activity so it looks like this Twins team will stay together for at least the next couple of months.
After lunch it was time to go back to Target Field. Upon entering the gates I heard a man singing quite loudly about programs. I stood and listened to San the singing program guy for about five minutes before buying a program from him and moving on. Take note other baseball parks, if you want me to buy your programs, I now expect to be serenaded before I hand over my $3. I asked Sam why I did not hear him the day before and he told me that he only does a handful of games each year. Also take note Target Field scheduling department, pay this guy enough to work all 81 games. He is terrific.
It was dollar hot dog night so I decided that since I was adventurous in my food choice yesterday, it was time to eat some good ol' fashioned ballpark food. I am on such a tight schedule this summer that I have been getting my food before the game actually starts. There is so much to experience at each stadium that I do not want to waste a single moment. In the past, whether I was sitting in the press box or in the stands, I always ate a dog during the game. I would never eat before or after the game because that would defeat the purpose. What purpose you ask? I don't know. But that sums up the baseball watching experience nicely. We all do these things without questioning them because that is what has been done for over 100 years. Our grandparents ate hot dogs in the stands and our grand kids will eat hot dogs in the stands.
After yesterday's drubbing at the hands of the Royals, the Twins came to the park ready to fight back. Despite giving up two early runs, Twins pitcher Kevin Correia kept them in the game long enough for the offense to score a couple of their own. Tied at 2-2 in the seventh I started to think I may witness my first extra innings game. This is my 24th game this season and I have yet to see a tenth inning. Tragically for me, a seventh inning error opened the door for two Kansas City runs which would prove insurmountable for the Twinkies. Every time the Twins would put a runner in scoring position, Kansas City pitching would turn up the heat and get the strike out. There were several opportunities for Twins batters to knock in the game-tying run, but nothing was going to stop the Royals from winning their eighth game in a row. It was a frustrating night for the home town faithful whose second half is not looking to be any brighter than the first.
While sitting at the game I was once again impressed by how many people were in attendance. This is a team that coming into tonight's game was 13 games under .500 and near the bottom of their division. It was just three short years ago that the Twins were atop the AL Central winning back-to-back divisional crowns. After going from first to worst, their fans continue to show up at the ballpark to support their team. There were no promotions, pregame ceremonies or any other gimmicks to entice folks to show up today, yet sitting in the stands were nearly 33,000 screaming Twins fans on a random Wednesday night.
I met a group of teenagers sitting in front of me who were on their feet and cheering like crazy the entire game. Among them was a kid named Luke with whom I had a great chat with for the podcast. My extremely unscientific sampling of fan demographics in the stands has led me to believe that there is a severe lack of teenagers coming to ballpark on their own or with a group of friends. Most stadiums I go to are filled with families with young children, married couples in their late 20s and 30s and anyone 40 and above. Every so often I will see a group of teenagers who have come out to a game on their own, but it is rare. With Luke and his friends sitting directly in front of me I was pleased to see how much fun these four kids were having together. They were on their feet and cheering wildly throughout the game and their passion felt organic and exciting. One of the pitfalls of drawing an older clientele is that at times the crowd response can feel a bit manufactured. When the scoreboard is telling you to “make some noise” or you hear the ever present “everybody clap your hands” followed by a rhythmic cadence of beats over the loudspeaker, the crowd will generally follow those instructions well. Sometimes it takes the inhibitions of the young to create an appropriately chaotic environment. The Twins may not have won this game, but thanks to people like Luke and his buddies the crowd had a great time until the final out.
Seeing two games in Minnesota ended up wrecking my home team win/loss record, but it was worth it. The crowd was fantastic for both games and the area around Target Field is a fun place to hang out. It goes without saying how much of an upgrade this park is over the Metrodome so I will not waste your time with that. I am off to Milwaukee now where, stay tuned because I am about to sit in the best seats I have ever sat in at a ballgame in my entire life.
Next up: Miller Park
Game Time Temp: 80
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
National Anthem: Dubuque Senior H.S. Jazz Choir
Seventh Inning Stretch: ABC
Total Pitches Thrown: 315
Total Hits: 24
Total Singles: 16
Total Doubles: 6
Total Triples: 1
Total Home Runs: 1
Total Walks: 2
Total Strike Outs: 18
Total Errors: 2
Game Time: 3:20
Attendance: 32,789 (83% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Paul Nauert
Miles Traveled: 50 miles
Time in Car: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sleep Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Ahi tuna steak from Lyon's Pub
Ballpark Food: 2 hot dogs
Money spent on parking: $11
Money spent on ticket: $62.00
Cost of Program: N/A
Money spent on food: $2.00
Total money spent on Merchandise: $0.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $75.00
Total Money spent today $206.12