Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Day 69: Metrodome

All photos of games 1 and 2 at the Metrodome available on Flickr.

Today we got to see a rare doubleheader in Minneapolis. Since the Twins play in a dome, games obviously get cancelled very rarely, but due to the I-35W bridge collapse last month, a game against the Royals was rescheduled for this afternoon. After a stop for breakfast, we arrived at the park around 10 minutes before game time and mingled with some of Erik's co-workers. Erik has been working part-time as an usher in the suites at the Metrodome for three years and was very anxious to talk to as many people as he could find and tell them about the tour. He even got us into the suite he works in and we got to watch both games there, which included free food and drink. I only spent about $15 total the entire day.

If Erik and I didn't attend games at the Dome many times a year, we probably would be less accustomed to its many nuiances and would loathe the stadium. I guess the same could be said for old County Stadium in Milwaukee, which we were both also fond of. Speaking objectively though, the stadium really is a dump. It is built for football - 343 down the left field line and less than 300 feet down the right field line is a good indicator of this, as well as the fact that seating angles are horrible. There are many seats in the upper deck that are covered by banners to make the emptiness of the large dome less apparent, but it doesn't really help. The two things that suck most about domes are obviously astroturf and the roof. The Metrodome roof in particular is notorious for the havoc it wreaks on outfielders. Many times players lose balls in the grayish roof and players like Prince Fielder end up getting inside-the-park homeruns. A lot of times fly balls hit speakers and land elsewhere, or maybe the ball even hits the roof and never comes down at all (this actually did happen once). It is atrocious not only to watch a player lose a fly ball in the roof, but then also to see the ball bounce up 12 feet in the air off the turf when/if it finally lands. With all that being said, sitting in the suites and seeing at least one really good game did make the visit more enjoyable than some previous ones.

Game one was an early struggle for Twinkies pitcher Matt Garza, and the team could never really recover from the three runs Garza surrendered in the 1st. Overall, he was charged with 8 runs, 4 earned. The 3-6 hitters for the Royals went a combined 9-18 with 6 RBI, including a HR by 1B Ross Gload. Torii Hunter provided the lone offensive highlight for the Twins with his homerun in the bottom half of the 1st in the 9-4 loss.

Game two was considerably more exciting - and even if it wasn't, we at least got a sweet Kirby Puckett bronze statue giveaway. We left the park around 4:30 after the first game and had a couple drinks at a bar next door, and we fundraised. As has been a common theme lately, we had a really good spot and thought we would fair a lot better than we did. Returning to our suite around 6:30, we saw Twins pitcher Scott Baker toss a perfect game through 8th. It was only fitting to us that the trip was bookended with the two best games - game #2 at Wrigley, and the 3rd to last game in Minneapolis on Friday. By the 6th inning, Scotty had distanced himself from the rest of the dugout and the stadium proceeded to go crazy for the remaining hour of the game. Baker walked the first batter he faced in the 9th, but he still had the no-hitter going so the crowd was still really fired up to see him close out the game. The no-hitter was spoiled by newly acquired pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney, brother of the venerable record holder of all-time pinch hits Mark Sweeney. Baker ended up going the distance however, tossing a one-hit CG shutout with 9 K's. It was unreal to watch and the third time I have seen a pitcher take a no-hitter past the 7th.

After the game we followed Erik's co-worker Joe to his house and passed out early because he had to be back at work early the next morning for an 11 AM first pitch. This works out well for us anyways, because if we leave early enough tomorrow, we can tour Leinenkugels in Chippewa Falls on our way to Appleton, Wisconsin.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 2
views from park - n/a
view to field - 3 (very good from our suite, otherwise not)
surrounding area - 6 (downtown)
food variety - 3
nachos - 4
beer - 7 (free, but Bud Light)
vendor price - 7
ticket price - 9 (game 1 $7 GA, game 2 free)
atmosphere - Game 1 gets a 2, Game 2 gets a 10
walk to park - 3
parking price/proximity - 7 (2 blocks away for $6.25)
concourses - 3
team shop - 2

best food - steak sandwich
most unique stadium feature - the "baggie" in right field
best jumbotron feature - T.C. Bear "walk" animation
best between-inning feature - Hormel Hot Dog song in 4th

field dimensions - 343/408/295
starters - Kyle Davies (KC) v. Matt Garza (MIN); Gil Meche v. Scott Baker
opponent - Kansas City Royals
time of game - 3:01; 2:16
attendance - 15735; 24985
score - 9-4 L; 5-0 W
Brewers score that day - 3-2 W

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