Tag Archives: Minnesota Twins

Baseball: You can go home again

photo(1)Last weekend I went back to Cleveland to play golf with my oldest friends on the planet, the guys I grew up with in our old neighborhood straddling the border between Cleveland Heights and South Euclid. The trip was planned solely on our availability to get together for 18 holes, and it was a happy coincidence that the Indians were in town.

My younger son and I rolled into to my brother’s place late Saturday afternoon, affording us enough time to head downtown to Progressive (nee Jacobs) Field and catch the Tribe against the Twins. This was only my second visit to the “new” stadium, a few blocks inland on East 9th Street from the old Municipal Stadium where I saw scores of games years ago. Progressive Field afforded us a fine angle to the diamond from our perch on the top deck off home plate and just up the first base line.

I got to spend time with my son, had a hotdog with the great mustard from the old stadium, The Indians won, and there were fireworks after the game.

The experience — right down to the post-game parking lot jam — stirred up a lot of fond memories and stoked the fire in this fan’s unceasing hope for a Cleveland championship one of these years. As I write this post, I’m wearing my Grady Sizemore T-shirt. I bought it along with one for my granddaughter a couple of years back.

She turns four this summer, and if the Tribe can’t win it all in my lifetime, may it happen in hers. I pray, dear God, I pray.

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Missing the Washington Senators

A national touring production of “Damn Yankees” is swinging by the Modesto area, and the news dredged up some unexpected pleasant memories. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Senators, and I think I know why.

Growing up an Indians fan in the 60s, I knew that if I went to a game at Cleveland Stadium, the odds were always better for a Tribe win if the Senators were in town. But it goes deeper than that.

With the Nationals in our nation’s capitol, the Senators take on a patina of old-timey cool. There are two ex-Senators clubs, of course: the Twins and Rangers, each created when the original teams fled the District for greener (as in money) pastures.

The franchise that is now the Twins was the one on which “Damn Yankees” is based. Even though I was born before they headed to the Twin Cities, I have no memory of that club. But the Texas-bound Rangers that formed as an expansion team in ’61 I knew well, and that team seemed damned to an eternity of being “last in the Amerian League,” as the saying goes.

I’ve just looked over the Washington Nationals roster, and I don’t find enough recognizable talent to project anything more than a mediocre team in 2012. I’d like for the Nationals to succeed, though, and break that ancient curse.

The MLB app for iPhone blows me away

Resistance is futile. If you love baseball, you must get the MLB app for iPhone.

I used a $10 iTunes gift card from my Easter basket (yes, the bunny still delivers to baseball bloggers of a certain age) and another $4.99 to spring for the app the other night, and all I can say is, What took me so long?

After shelling out $14 a month or thereabouts for Sirius/XM satellite radio the last two seasons, I’m even more enamored of the iPhone app. Satellite radio gives you only the home-team broadcast, but the iPhone gives you both broadcasts, home and away, not to mention the Spanish-language broadcasts as available (adios, pelota!).

In the past 60 hours or so, I’ve listened to broadcasts of the Tigers and Angels, Mets and Phillies, Indians and Twins, Yankees and White Sox, Cubs and Diamondbacks, Pirates and Dodgers, and probably a few others I’ve sampled but forgotten.

This afternoon, I used a cheapo FM transmitter that my son picked up at Marshall’s to blast the Twins-Indians game out of a boom box.

Technology rules.

The Twins win, and we’re stuck with more games in that horrid dome

Twins win

Twins win

The Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings Tuesday night to win the American League Central title, and I’m not happy.

Not because the Twins won per se. They’ve been a terrific story this season, charging from behind to tie the Tigers and force the one-game playoff for the division title.

What irritates me is the prospect of at least one more baseball game being played in theĀ  abomination that is the Metrodome. Although I’ve never set foot in it, I’ve loathed that dome for years.

When the Brewers were in the American League and played there, I hated it on general principles.

When Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and that generation of Twins were in their heyday, I hated it for the homer hankies the fans waved. (I’ve always hated any team whose fans in an act of mass silliness wave hankies or towels or – please, God, no – thundersticks.)

I even hate the dome in football season, as in the past two weeks when the 49ers and Packers lost in succession to the Vikings.

Why do I find the dome so revolting? I don’t begrudge the Twins and Vikings fans a warm place to sit when it’s freezing outside. But the Metrodome is an over-the-top artificial environment, a chamber of Nordic screams designed to rile and rattle the opposing team. The building is a huge advantage for the home squad, and unfairly so.

There are other domes in professional sports. I’ve been in Skydome or whatever it’s now called in Toronto and the old Kingdome in Seattle (inset), for which I had a minimal, grudging tolerance. I’ve also been in Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the roof open and closed. None of those parks approaches the Metrodome in affecting the outcome of a game.

Quirky differences among ballparks parks add to baseball’s appeal — the Green Monster at Fenway Park, the ivy at Wrigley Field, McCovey Cove in San Francisco, the arches at Yankee stadia, old and new. Those features constitute charm and give the home team a bit of a boost. But they don’t loom oppressively over the game as does the Metrodome.

That the Twins are moving to the new Target Field next season is good news. It can’t come soon enough.

For most of us, it’s ‘Wait Until Next Year’

Playoffs notwithstanding, for most baseball fans today is the first day of the long winter. The season is over, the concession stands are empty, the lockerrooms bare as the players have packed up to go fishing or hunting or whatever they do in the off-season.

For followers of the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants, another year has passed without post-season play. We small- and mid-market fans will watch glumly as the Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Rockies, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers or Twins stretch their seasons.

For those teams, hope remains for October glory, a pennant, a World Series champagne spray. But for most of us — like this crushed Cubs fan — our refrain is “Wait until next year.”

Spring training can’t come soon enough.