Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Target Field Redux, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Twins

The view from our seats during the Legends Game.
So I know AK has already posted his take on Target Field and this subject has been written about ad infinitum elsewhere in the blogosphere (and I realize I'm a latecomer to the party at this point), but after having the pleasure of seeing my first game there on Sunday, I wanted to weigh in as well regarding my experience at the Twins' amazing new facility.

We parked up at Washington and 2nd, so we had a bit of a walk to the stadium. I actually didn't know exactly where it was, so around every corner I was waiting for my first glimpse. Finally we turned onto 6th St and I saw the upper deck - I was actually a little surprised at how low it was to the ground, having forgotten initially that Kirby Puckett Plaza is at the top of the right field stands and the actual field is below the plaza level. The plaza itself is pretty stunning, opening onto the field with the statues of Puckett, Carew and Killebrew, the light fixtures that look like bats, and the giant hanging wall of silver chains that cover the parking garage that seem to ripple in the wind. History is everywhere; rosters from previous Twins teams are posted around the perimeter of the plaza, the gates are numbered with the jerseys of Twins greats, and, although not technically part of the stadium per se, I was lucky enough to be there for the Legends Game that featured a number of former players.

It was pretty awesome to see some familiar faces from past teams, from the Hall of Famers (Carew, Killebrew, Oliva) to other mainstays from the World Series teams (Morris, Hrbek, Gagne, Gaetti) and more recent fan favorites like Radke, Koskie and Guardado. The game itself was a riot, with a multitude of fake pulled hamstrings, Hrbek taking a massive chunk out of the turf while falling trying to catch a pop fly, Blyleven trying to plunk Ron Washington (ostensibly for being the manager of the opposing team) and Al Newman, who has packed on some serious pounds, patrolling left field. The nostalgia factor was high.

We were also fortunate to have great seats - we sat near the top of the first section almost directly behind home plate, underneath the overhang of the second tier. We had an excellent view of all the action, including the gargantuan screen in left. The thing that struck me most about the stadium was how intimate it feels, which I think is exactly what you want from a baseball stadium. The concourses are all open to the field as well, meaning you can keep your view of the field if you're walking to get food.

Speaking of food, I decided I had to do the walleye on a stick. It was definitely good, perhaps not quite worth $11, but hey, you only live once. I washed it down with a Grain Belt, which, for my money, beats the crap out of most of your standard domestics. The local flavor of the concessions was a nice touch, and I guess I'll have to leave the Murray's steak sandwich for my next visit.

I won't go too much into the game here, but it ended up being quite the wild ride, with a comfortable lead turning into a nail-biter in the ninth inning. Young being called out at third for touching the base coach (which he actually did, if only slightly) was perhaps the strangest end to a game I've seen this year. The bullpen struggles left that "hey we still won but something doesn't feel right" taste in my mouth, but Capps looked much better on Monday and at this point, we can't be nit-picking wins. There weren't any home runs either, so unfortunately I didn't get to see the Minnie-Paul sign light up, but I think Thome made up for that yesterday with a massive bomb that might still be rolling.

As AK noted in his previous post, I was left feeling sort of sick to my stomach after the marathon loss to the Tigers, with injuries and overwork prompting an influx of players from the minors, but the Twins have found a way to keep winning (which has been hugely important as the White Sox are on a seven-game winning streak, aided by some terrible bullpen performances from their opponents). Hence the title of this post. I think at this point in the season, there is a tendency to think the sky is falling around every turn and to look for potential holes and shortcomings that could hurt the team down the line. This sort of attitude takes its toll, however, and the bottom line is that this team is playing, if not perhaps their best baseball in all facets of the game, at least well enough to keep in the win column. The run differential now stands at +113 and the Twins own the third-best record in all of baseball. Save for a three-game stretch at US Cellular, the rest of the schedule doesn't look so intimidating, but the Twins need to stay on their toes against opponents that may just be looking to play spoiler. I'm not taking anything for granted, but I'm going to be sure to enjoy the ride for the rest of the season.


  1. I'm so, so glad you called it Kirby Puckett Plaza!! I swear that is the true name.

  2. i agree! i mean, it's right in front of gate 34, so it makes sense to me.