What do you do when a month is suffering from an identity crisis? Right now, March seems to think it is actually January (air temp this afternoon: 23; felt more like teens to me; 1 to 3 inches of snow hovering overhead as I write). Meanwhile, April waits on deck, its swing likely quite rusty. It will have barely awakened when we really need it to bring its "A" game.
Not that I'm nervous, but I do wonder just how cold it has to be before they call an opening day. Is there even such a temperature? 35? 30? 25? I seem to remember from the Met days that cold was basically ignored, while snow could cause a postponement, though it hardly ever happened. Of course, in those days they brought out the flamethrowers -- or worse, just plain gasoline and a match -- to melt the snow and dry the field. Helicopters would work for swampy conditions, but only flame worked on frozen ground.
We've come a long way, baby.
But I do wonder about poor Larry DiVito. He woke up the Target Field grass on schedule last week, painstakingly removing the blanket which protected it from the rest of Minnesota, then watched as the sky promptly showed an excess of disrespect. (Help needed from downtown skyscraper dwellers: Did the warmed field melt the precip?)
I'm glad that the Twins will open the season at home, and I hope to be there, but I do wonder about the wisdom of the scheduling. By my count, there are 14 ballparks essentially without early season weather concerns (Safeco included even though it's not fully climate-controlled), and 5 more where at least mildness is generally guaranteed. It would seem sensible to prioritize these during those first two weeks of the season. You would think that clubs in the north would even be in favor of this, if only because they stand to risk losing ticket sales if the weather is too cold for those earliest games.
This is not the only scheduling mystery, of course. The whole interleague schedule is especially perplexing this year. They really haven't found a gracious way to handle two 15-team leagues yet, but even that doesn't explain why they would schedule back-to-back two-game series. That's just plain weird.
So let me bring back my sure-fire way to make it work. Basically, the problem is that, when each league has an odd number of teams, you need at least one interleague series going on all the time. The only interleague series that anyone cares about are the so-called "rivalry" series (they also sell the most tickets). Putting those two things together makes it obvious (at least to me) that they need to have exactly one rivalry series going on at all times.
Each rivalry would get the spotlight, they would play real series against one another (three games in each ballpark), so there would be 30 series in all, evenly spaced throughout the season. As an example, the Twins could open the season in Milwaukee.
Once again, let me reiterate that I'm excited to be able to go to Target Field on the opening day of the season for the first time! (In 2010, after two exhibition games here, the Twins opened the season in Anaheim. In 2011, it was Toronto. In 2012, it was Baltimore.) It beats the crap out of the drive-by hot dog -- which is an awesome tradition, but something a little short of attending a real game.
Truth is, I'm ready. Just like my winter, my spring training has gotten a little long. I'm getting kind of tired of these weird games that look like, well they look sort of like real games -- but in an alternate universe where the ballparks are tiny and the average uniform number seems to be mathematically linked to the inning number. (Although, I do think the mini-monster at jetBlue Park is pretty cool -- what with the original Fenway scoreboard embedded and all.)
OK, I'll come out with it: I wish I were there. That's what is eating me up. I want to be hanging out at the ballpark again. And I want it bad! But I also want the games to count again. And I want the snow to be gone, and the Minnesota thermostat to be raised. I want the sunshine and the moonlit nights under the Minneapolis skyline. I want a freaking pulled pork sandwich and Minneapple Pie!
14 days until opening day. Really.
This summer will be my 50th on the planet, and in some ways I want it to never end (my birthday comes just as fall starts to get a little uppity with summer -- less a problem with each season's identity than a sloppy relay handoff). But right now, I can't wait for it to get started!
"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.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Entrance to the Champions Club
The Northstar circulation building is starting to take shape.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Night (about the 7th inning)
New section labels, but some curious choices.
Legends Club seats feature in-seat service
The Fun Zone/Rescue Area in Oakland during the second inning
Detail of the Puckett wall hanging
Mystery door on Seventh Street...
Yep, that's real grass down there, son.
Peering through Gate 29 -- lots to see
This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.
Perched welder on the top of the canopy.
This is the upper deck in Anaheim
This looks south and shows the track configuration for Northstar. The platform shown is just a placeholder. To the best of my knowledge, concept drawings for this platform have not been released. Keep in mind, this is NOT part of the ballpark project. It is completely separate.
The spruced up triangle really doesn't show much connection with the ballpark.
The dessert carts came out earlier, and looked even better than last year.
Here's an idea of what these Loge Boxes are all about. That guy is a waiter with no fans to serve. They seemed to have one server for about every four boxes.
Larry DiVito, mowing
Here's the Northstar platform.
Look closely at the overhang. You'll see the on the right it is flush with the fence, and then it sticks out farther and farther as you move toward center. More fun for Michael Cuddyer.
Overview of the storage tracks.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
Sue Nelson, and her organ, in one of the Twins Pubs
June 29,1936 - May 17, 2011
Thome steps in.
At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)