Monday, August 13, 2012

Game 10: Mauer Power

A view of the packed hou
Last night at Target Field in Minneapolis, as we watched a very strong Rays team defeat the much weaker Minnesota Twins, I was struck by the uniquely upbeat atmosphere we found at Target Field. Despite a brilliant performance from Rays' ace David Price, the Twins fans that packed the stadium not only stuck around longer than other fans, but they were also much more generally engaged in the game. Fans booed after BJ Upton and Matt Joyce hit back-to-back home runs to spur a three-run first inning, but though that early lead ultimately proved too much to overcome, the crowd's interest never waned. Even from the right field bleachers, people seemed to appreciate the pitching performance Price put on. Of course, it helped that he was not flawless; Price made enough mistakes to surrender two runs, including a solo bomb from Brian Dozier that really got the crowd excited. I cannot imagine how the park would have exploded had we seen Joe Mauer hit one, for it seemed clear the Joe Mauer is in a class of his own with Twins fan over both former MVP Justin Morneau and the player currently leading the team in all power categories, slugger Josh Willingham.

Rays' ace David Price
Perhaps the biggest indicator of Twins' fans unusual dedication to their team was the presence of not one but two bachelorette parties at the game, which we saw on the center field scoreboard. I never really thought of a baseball game as a great place for a bachelorette party though, and while nightlife in the Twin Cities were nothing like what we saw the night before in Wrigleyville, you don't come to the ballpark for that kind of event without really caring about the team. The fact that women were dedicate their night out to the baseball game is truly remarkable. Another indicator of the Twins' popularity is that Joe Mauer jerseys are 12th in jersey sales among all major league players, despite the Twins being a small-market team that is tied for last place in the AL Central.

Even beyond the fans appreciation for the team, though, the aspect of our time at Target Field that distinguished it from the other stadiums we have visited is the extent to which nearly all items were produced locally. From the beer selection (Grain Belt Beer and Summit to name two) to the gelato stand (which was delicious), our group was very impressed with the quality and uniqueness and the Target Field concessions. Of course, this sentiment holds true for the larger experience, too.

Games Watched: 10
Games to Go: 20
Thuuz score: 40
Stadium: B+, well-designed new stadium chock full of local food and beverage options (including a fantastic gelato stand by the right field entrance) with a view of the Minneapolis skyline over right field
Fan Atmosphere: A, phenomenal given the relatively dull game and poor outcome for the hometown crowd
Concessions: A, not only were the food, snacks and beverages excellent, but for the most part they were also locally or regionally produced, a welcome reprieve from Nathan's hot dogs, Dippin' Dots, Bud Light.
The Prophet, spreading word of Jesus (Montero)
Quote of the Day: "Embrace Jesus, for only He will save you" - Damon, referring to Mariners prodigy/prophet/perennial disappointment Jesus Montero. Damon loudly proclaimed this as we exited Target Field following the Twins' loss, and he said it holding up our "30 in 38" sign and wearing his beloved Dustin Ackley Mariners jersey. As an aside, we're pretty sure it was the Mariners jersey that kept us from being on the Target Jumbotron that night.
Tim Kurkjian Award: To Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. After a successful pickoff throw with runners on first and third caught Desmond Jennings off the bag at first and sprinting for sceond, Morneau decided to throw to third base to hold that runner close to the bag (it did not look like he was going anywhere) rather than get the dead-in-the-water Jennings at second. Jennings even stopped ten feet shy of second base, assuming he was caught in a pickle.
Miles traveled: 2,412
Miles to next stop: 1,105 (Brewers @ Rockies, 6:40pm)

Read more for pictures:

Midwest farmland in Northern Wisconsin

View from our seats

Center field
Panorama view

Joe Mauer, local legend
Chicken tenders basket
Skyline over right field

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