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On Saturday morning at 10:00, I will be on DW The Great’s podcast, so check that out.
I feel the need to start by mentioning that I was “stuffing my face” with an order of Nachos Grande. Yes, that was me and my brother who were on the television during the bottom of the 5th inning of last night’s Twins/Cardinals tilt. Bert Blyleven said, “Now that is relaxing. That gentleman is stuffing his face at the ballpark.” Or something like that. Within seconds, my phone was vibrating. I had four texts, two e-mails and some facebook messages. Each of those numbers increased in the next few minutes. Apparently it was quite the topic on Twitter including pictures. Some don’t look too bad. Some looked horrible. Oh well, what do you do? It was about 6:30, so I had to eat something. It was kind of comical. But if nothing else, my TwinsCentric windbreaker and my SethSpeaks.net hat got some air time.
On Friday, I left work at noon, and met my brother at about 1:45. We got to Garage A by about 2:00, and walked through the walkways toward the stadium. It was raining hard outside. After it slowed just a bit, we walked down onto Target Plaza, but then it started raining again. We just stood under a walkway. It was plenty warm, with temperatures in the 60s. It rained right up until about 3:00. Fortunately, a little after two, I saw a few people walk in our direction. I recognized a couple of them. Steve Singleton, the father of the Twins infield prospect, came over. We had met in Phoenix at an Arizona Fall League game, so it was nice to catch up with him again. The one bit of information that he shared with me that I feel comfortable telling people is that Steve Singleton, the son, has become a switch-hitter this spring. So far, it has been a successful decision for him. But it was great to talk baseball with him.
We went into the stadium about 3:10 and went up to the Legends Club. Unfortunately, we could not get into that section without a ticket to that section. Then it was confusing because until game time, all of the escalators only go up, so we had to go up to the top and then find an elevator to go back down to the main level. Our seats were down the left field line, in the lowest level, in the bleacher seats. Great seats.
The only negative about those lower level bleacher seats are that you can’t see the scoreboard. On some plays, they show replays on the right field wall. I wish they would do the pregame information or at least the lineups on that screen.
I think Dick Bremer over-romanticizes the whole outdoor stadium thing. I mean, listening back to the broadcast later last night, I heard him at one time say that it was exciting that the players would be able to see their own shadows in the field for the first time in thirty years. That takes it a little too far. However, there are some things about last night’s game being outdoors that was very cool. I have to admit, watching the grounds crew take the tarp off of the infield about an hour before game time was kind of fun. We heard about the drainage system under the field. Well, based on how much it rained from about 1:30-2:45, even the outfield barely looked wet. The concourse traffic was much smoother on Friday night than it had been last Saturday during the Gophers game. I think more people were into watching the game as opposed to sightseeing. The corporate advertising was definitely out around the stadium for this game, and I’m sure there will be more by Opening Day.
Before the game, Ron Gardenhire announced that Jon Rauch would be the team’s closer to start the season. I don’t have real strong feelings about that either way. I’m sure he’ll do just fine. My question is actually more about what happened over the last few days since Gardy announced that the team would be using a Closer-By-Committee approach.
As expected, Joe Mauer got a nice ovation when his name was announced before the game and when he came up for his first at bat. But the loudest ovation of the game came for Jacque Jones, who clearly was taken aback by it. I thought it was great. As I’ve said, Jones was probably my favorite Twins player of the early part of the ‘00s. Jones also made a diving catch to end the previous half-inning.
Denard Span got the crowd going early. He ended the top of the 1st by tracking down an Albert Pujols fly ball to deep right center field. He led off the bottom of the inning with a triple down the 1B line. His next at bat, he drilled a long home run through the wind and into the right field seats for a home run.
Justin Morneau has really struggled the last two weeks of spring training. How concerned am I? Zero.
What a thrill for those non-roster minor leaguers to get the opportunity to be involved in these games to help open the new stadium. Big league hotel rooms and accommodations. Their names are on their lockers in the locker room. They get an opportunity to play in a big league stadium in front of 40,000 fans. They got to see Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew. I just think the honor is tremendous.
Brian Dinkelman came into the game in left field the last few innings. In the top of the 9th, he caught a fly ball on the warning track. The entire lower level bleachers crowd started chanting, “Dink-el-man! Din-kel-man! Dink-el-man!” It was kind of cool. Then when he came to bat in the bottom of the 9th, the chant extended to more of the stadium. That is kind of a random note, but I thought it was neat and probably made him feel pretty goodl
Anthony Slama got the Twins out of the top of the 8th. He was rocking some actual stir-ups. It was also great to see Kyle Waldrop get to pitch the top of the 9th. He got the first out on a ground out. Then the next batter hit a line drive off of his glove wrist. That had to hurt. He had a scoreless frame.
The Minne and Paul Minnesota sign is pretty neat. It is lit up throughout the game. After Denard Span hit his home run, Matt Holliday turned and watched the sign. The two were shaking hands and the lights were lighting up. Any time a Twins pitcher would record a strikeout, the Minnesota border would flash randomly around it. I am looking forward to seeing what all happens on the big screen.
Once the game finished, we left pretty quickly, got to the car and easily got out of the area. It was so much easier than I thought. I hate to give away too much, but if you’re driving in on 394, park in Garage A! It’s simple! It’s $13, which I think may be a little high, but for how convenient and easy it was, it was totally worth it.
The rain stopped two hours before game time and it didn’t even sprinkle the whole game. It was in the low-60s at game time and was around 55 degrees the game concluded. It got a little chilly, but it was comfortable.
Also, I bought tickets via Stub Hub for the first time, and I can’t believe how easy it was.
The main thing, I am excited to get to my next Twins game at Target Field. This first game was terrific. Were you there? What were your thoughts? Leave projections and comments here.