Baseball regularly turns all of us grown-ups back into little kids. Usually it's a good thing.
Tonight, not so much. There may not be tears on my baseball glove, but there's a lump in my stomach the size of Gardy's bowling ball. (I shudder to think of the lump in his stomach.)
It's unusually sad because Target Field seemed to open a new competitive era for this franchise. Unfortunately, that new era burst onto a landscape that we now know is every bit as competitively unbalanced as it has ever been. Consider this: The Yankees' starting infield makes more than the entire Twins team. I'm really not a salary cap kind of guy, but this is completely ridiculous.
It's as if baseball has decided that the Yankees need some sort of tune-up, maybe even a little rest, before playing the real playoff games, and one of the other divisions is expected to provide that. (The Globetrotters/Generals relationship comes to mind, though there at least everybody's in on it.)
It's as if the playoff structure is designed to make it seem that any team has a chance, while in reality requiring herculean efforts and lots of luck for any team not wearing pinstripes. Possible, yes. Likely? MLB hopes not because the TV revenues of a Twins-Reds World Series are a whole lot less than the Yankees-Phillies equivalent.
All this is not to imply that our team played well and the other team just played better. No, our team did not play well. They looked a little bit like the nervous kid who's been asked to sing at the school assembly.
Whatever swagger they may have built up during the incredible run after the All-Star break seemed to dim when they clinched. And it evaporated completely about the time the Yankees gave that last game to the Red Sox to guarantee a playoff match-up they knew would be to their liking. (You think they didn't? I'm happy to make the case if you like.)
Memo to Bill Smith: Go find us some damn swagger.
Humility is nice, but it takes confidence, passion, emotion, anger, aggressiveness, brainlessness, and just the right amount of arrogance to win playoff games. It's different than what it takes to win the previous 162. And I really think that was the primary missing ingredient. We just don't appear to have anybody on the team who can get up and say, "Screw this. Tonight we're winning." -- and then go out and make it happen.
The whole thing just bites. And it bites harder now after the decade we've had, and the amazing and memorable season we've just enjoyed in a new ballpark. (It's also eerily familiar. Only the names and venue have changed.)
But it would be completely unfair to let tonight's aftertaste cover up the rich flavors of a great season. We'll have lots of time to mull it all over before the gates at Target Field open once again, but for now, to the 2010 Twins I say:
Thanks. I had a blast.
And at least I will not be spending the off-season wondering which team has the best stadium.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The Ron Coomer corner features a bar.
Stay warm while buying tickets.
Field access on the visitor's side
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
The old flour Gold Medal Flour Mill, located next to the new Guthrie theater (Source: RP)
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P
Dan Kenney, my tour guide
Skyline to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the outfield with you... (click to enlarge)
These images are found at the top of the staircase, which leads to the Suite Level.
Look beyond the gigantic hand (a hounds tooth jacket? really?) and you'll get a glimpse of the main grandstand configuration. The two (or is it three?) levels of suites are visible, as is the design of the so-called "split upper deck," and the extensive use of limestone for decorative accents. Let's hope these little touches don't get cut as costs increase, because they make a nice tie-in from the outside of the park to the inside. Of most interest to me is the way that the very best seats are physically separated from all the rest of the seats by that limestone. There will be virtually no way to sneak into these seats. On one level, that's a somewhat sad design feature...
From the best seat in the house (Section 8, Row A), the right field corner is blocked. (No one may care. Fine with me. People should know.)
Supports for the little sections in the outfield.
Eleven flag poles
The stunning curtains, which skillfully evoke the architecture, keep the atrium from getting too hot in the late afternoon sun, simultaneously hiding the HERC.
Met Stadium on May 17, 1975 (Twins vs. Brewers featuring Hank Aaron)
Clemson Memorial Stadium
Just some of the lumiaries who turned out for the unveiling (Terry is clearly thinking about Sidney Ponson).
This is the main entry to the Pro Shop. The second entry, located just outside the turnstiles, is indicated by the arrow.
Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number
The heretofore unseen north facade (click to enlarge). Does it look like a ballpark? And what's with the bamboo?
This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.
Balcony of the Town Ball Tavern.
This would have been the HERC side, though it's unclear just how far over the plant the retracted roof would have gone. My fear was always that they would have to shorten the track and more of the roof would have stayed over the ballpark. The only good retractable roof is one which disappears when not in use. I don't think they could have realistically created such a thing.
Here you can see the real beauty of the Seventh Street side, and get a solid sense of why the overall design really works. The building's purpose is clearly visible, there are numerous connections from inside to outside, scale is nicely mitigated, the stone is attractively used, materials are pleasantly mixed and truly complementary. It's just a winner in so many ways.
This was from January 19, 2007, when it looked like wonderful things might never happen here.