Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reflections from a Target Field Newbie

I've been deprived of Twins baseball for several weeks, missing more games than I consider acceptable all due to cosmetic beauty products (let's not go there). So to reward myself, I made my first journey to Mecca and finally got to see the glory that is Target Field first hand.

By now every Minnesotan reading this is surely finding their eyes glazing over -- Ugh, please, this is so April 2010. Get with the times. Target Field is passé, we all know how awesome it is, let's just get to October!

(Maybe I'm exaggerating.)

But I do realize that my expounding on how amazing Target Field is should probably be lumped in with my delayed posts about Mauer signing, the Yankees World Series win in '09, and many other things I should just leave in the past. So I won't dwell on the subject too much -- but just bear with me for a little while while I say this:

Twins fans. Your stadium blows the new Yankee Stadium out of the water.

Yes. It's true.

I'll be honest and admit that I haven't been to that many professional ballparks. Outside of the Metrodome and now Target Field, I've really only had the pleasure of attending games at Wrigley, Shea, and both Yankee Stadium v.1 and v.2.

Shea was a dump. Wrigley just can't be compared to anything. The original Yankee Stadium was an ugly lump of concrete in the Bronx with peanut shells crusted to the stadium seating, peeling white bunting all around the top, and the stench of warm beer assaulting you from every angle. But at least it had the history. The vibe that Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra had all played countless games on that grass you had the opportunity to see. Now? Well, now it's a slightly newer ugly lump of concrete in the Bronx and it doesn't have that history but at least the bunting isn't peeling and the peanut shells are swept up somewhat consistently.

Target Field is a rarity. A gem. It has that old nostalgia feel of a ballpark with nods to a franchise history in every crevice, and it also has all the modern amenities that even Yankee Stadium seemed to pass up! Let's focus on food for one second: if you scour Yankee Stadium concourses up and down I think you'd be hard pressed to find anything outside your standard ballpark fare. Brats, dogs, burgers, chips with gooey yellow nacho cheese. Chicken fingers. That's about it. I'm not saying they should add sushi (ugh, Citifield, really?), but what about a New York hot pastrami sandwich? Little things like that which tie your ballpark in to its surroundings.

That's a second point. Target Field is so perfectly slotted into the heart of downtown and you can feel its vibe from a mile away. The open plazas that you can walk up to at any hour of the night and just peer in to see the ghost of an empty stadium gives you chills.

Yankee Stadium? Well, you can catch glimpses inside through a tiny hole as you pass by on the subway. But walking up to it it's just a giant stone colossus. There's nothing open, nothing inviting, nothing beckoning you in.

And Tony Oliva just hangs out and chats with people! Seriously, where else do you find that?!?!

Ok, I'm being unfair to Yankee Stadium. Guilty. It's a magnificent ballpark. But Target Field blows it out of the water. Without a doubt.

Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting up with a number of fellow bloggers for my first ever game. Betsy from For the Love of the Game met me outside and showed me around. We ran into Andrew from Off the Mark who was there as a fan for the evening. Then I ran into Fanatic Jack and got to chat with him on my way to meet Emily from Chatter From the Cheap Seats. And we had amazing seats (perfect for my first game and for the awesome Liriano/Hudson pitcher's duel).

After the game, Emily and Andrew and I met up with the Twins Geek and The Voice of Reason up at Town Ball Tavern for a few drinks before heading over to Sneaky Pete's to hang out with Nick Nelson.

It was a great time, and the fact that the Twins won such an amazing game was a perfect cap to it!

I went on Saturday and sat in the left field bleachers out of the rain, and on Sunday I sat in the little garden box that juts over right field. Despite the fact that we lost my last two games it was an awesome baseball-filled weekend -- just what I needed and I'm already trying to figure out when I can make the trip back!

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