Sunday, June 16, 2013

Return to Target Field

All photos of Minneapolis and Target Field available on Flickr.

I visited Erik this past weekend in Minneapolis, and in doing so, made my first visit to Target Field since its inaugural season three years ago.  Although we were technically both at the park on Friday, Erik was working in the suites, so somehow we are over two months into the season now and have not been to a ballgame together yet.  Target Field is one of my favorite ballparks and I was super excited to be back.  The food, the materials, the urban site, the variety of seating and public areas - just about everything at this stadium is top notch.

I entered at the #3 Killebrew gate in left-center field and did a quick lap before heading to my seat up on the sky, just to investigate if I could notice anything different from my last visit.  The major difference is the batters' eye.  There used to be evergreen trees planted behind the centerfield wall with a tall forest green wall behind that, but as is typical in a lot of parks, the players whined and moaned about it, so they took the trees out and clad the batters' eye wall in some sort of black metal panel.  The Brewers and Reds have both had to do the same thing in recent years and I think it's pretty ridiculous, but I suppose it is important to please your star athletes.  The other thing I noticed that I did not three years ago was Two Gingers Pub on the 2nd level behind home plate.  It's a bar with a direct view onto the field that is open to all fans and I ate my delicious Murray's steak sandwich there.  As I eluded to earlier and talked about in my 2010 review, one of my favorite things about Target Field are all of the standing room and public areas in the stadium.  In contrast, I have talked in the past about how unfortunate I think it is that Miller Park has all of these bars that are not only private access, but also take up most of the standing room space in the stadium.  Target Field is just the opposite - there are many plazas, bars, and gathering areas throughout the park, which are made even more impressive when you understand how tight of a squeeze it was to build on this site.  I think social spaces are very important to break up what can sometimes be a monotonous 3+ hours, and they greatly add to those intangible qualities that put a park above the rest.  The Town Ball Tavern in left field also looked to be expanded, and I spent about half the game at the bar in left field with a great spot right in the front corner by the foul pole.  It's not really related to the ballpark per se, but I also noticed that they are building a huge intermodal transit hub where the Target Field light rail station is.  Erik said that 3 light rail lines and the commuter line will all converge there, so that will be great for fans and the city, and it makes me wish Milwaukee and Miller Park shared such a luxury.

Even though the Twins lost, I had a lot of fun at Friday night's game for a couple reasons.  First off, there was a long pregame ceremony for the 2013 inductions into the Twins Hall of Fame.  Longtime Twins Media Director and official scorekeeper Tom Mee was inducted first, followed by "Everday Eddie" Guardado.  I remember Eddie's crazy antics when he was the closer for the Twins about 10 years ago and he hasn't changed much in his retirement days - including still having the ability to zip a fastball on the black, as he showed when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Mee and Guardado were both clearly humbled to be a part of this Twins fraternity that includes former greats such as Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Rick Aguilera, Brad Radke, and former manager Tom Kelly.  The other reason I had a lot of fun was when I moved down to the bar in about the 5th and yucked it up with some fans there.  Again, I can't state it enough, social spaces are a great thing at a baseball park.  I love meeting people at ballgames because inevitably it will lead to me telling stories about the '07 Tour.  I bought the cheapest seat in the house because I knew I was going to move to the bar anyways, and after the 600-lb couple standing in front of me waddled out of the way I had a great view and good time talking to Twins fans.

After the game I met up with Erik and his girlfriend Katie for the customary post-Twins game visit to Hubert's, and then we hit up some local dive on the way home.  Saturday is kind of a long story.  Let's just say we had a lot of ambitious plans and planning that day that fell through - both literally and figuratively, as part of the day included me falling through a knee-deep puddle.  I'll pause here for laughter..........ok, ready?  I typically do not handle myself well when things do not go as planned, but I recovered and we had a pretty nice little day despite the adversity.  Our main event of the day was supposed to be a drive out to Eau Claire, but a couple hours of hard rain passed through the area so we didn't chance it.  There's still about two months of Northwoods League season left so I'm sure we will make it out there at some point this year.  I view it as a travesty that I am 30 years old and still have not been to every minor league field in Wisconsin yet.

Brewers 28-40, -15.5 (3 @ Astros, 3 v. Braves)
Reds 42-28, -2.5
(4 v. Pirates, 3 @ Diamondbacks)
Twins 30-36, -7.5 (3 v. White Sox, 3 @ Indians)

Erik - 8 (+7 worked)

Peter - 15

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