Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Deathtour~!: Metrodome, Minneapolis

5:45pm – After checking in and getting settled in my hotel room I left for the game, making sure I had my camera, feeling for it every few seconds in my right pocket, as I walked the downtown streets of Minneapolis.

5:52pm – Tickets were available in every section but after Wrigley I needed to save some money. In 11 games I haven’t sat in the bleachers yet so I got a ticket for what is referred to here as the Home Run Porch. There are no bleacher style benches in the Metrodome, just section after section of dark blue single seats. But regardless of type of seat my butt is planted in or what they choose to call it, these are the bleachers.

5:55pm – I decided to walk around the exterior of the dome. Why? I have no idea. It looks identical from all sides.

6:02pm – I finally went in and found my section. Since the field is completely obstructed from the concourse this was my first look at the field and the inside of the dome, which reminds me of those inflatable houses that kids jump around in. I wonder if I can pay to get up there and jump on top of the dome. I’m sure that sounds like more fun than it would be.

6:04pm – The Tigers are still taking batting practice. And, hey, I’m sitting in the bleachers. The sixth row, no less! Maybe I’ll catch something. I should have brought a glove.

6:06pm – Okay. I’m losing every single pop fly in the dome. I can’t see a thing. Every time I see a ball coming towards the bleachers I find myself looking for cover. And I notice a couple of Tigers doing the same in centerfield. Luckily it appears I’m sitting a section or two down from all the action. Sitting more towards left center there aren’t any making out to me.

6:15pm – BP is over so I decide to scour the concourse for some decent food. I haven’t had anything since I was at the airport and I’m unlikely to get a solid meal after the game.

6:21pm – Bingo. Found what I was looking for: a roast beef sandwich. And they make it right in front of you! Throw some barbeque sauce and mayo on it and you’re all set.

6:26pm – Back to my section. My seat is in the sixth row but I decide to hang back in the very last row of the section. I have the entire row to myself and what’s more, there’s no way anything is reaching me up here, so losing a ball in the ceiling won’t be a problem.

6:35pm – Pre-game entertainment. 3 fans try to lob a ball through a hole in a Subway sign hanging between the first and second decks in right field to win a prize. This is followed by a race around the bases by 5 costumed geeks dressed as fish. The race is won by Harvey Killer Fish. Hey, I don’t make the names.

6:50pm – We’ve had three first pitches tossed. How can we have three ceremonial first pitches? By definition only one of them can be first. Am I wrong?

6:58pm – Another perfunctory performance of the anthem by another high school choir. As I’m standing I notice a giant Canadian flag on the far side of the field. The sight of the Maple Leaf brings feelings of giddy anticipation for my eventual trip to Toronto. O Canada is a fantastic song. I should have tried booking a few Toronto road games just to hear it.

7:08pm – The Twins take the field to an atrocious theme song. I’m having flashbacks of the San Diego (Super)Chargers theme. *Shiver*

7:10pm – First pitch and we’re under way.

7:12pm – Edgar Renteria opens the game with pop fly down the line. Denard Span makes a fantastic sliding catch down the line. I’m glad he saw it because I completely lost the ball in the ceiling. I’m glad I’m not a ballplayer. The only other stadium I had this problem at was Dodger Stadium.

7:17pm – Alexi Casilla reaches on what is generously being called a single. A throwing error allows him to take second. There’s no way he would have beaten an accurate throw. A prime example of hometown scorekeeping.

7:20pm – The Twins take an early lead on a single by Justin Morneau.

7:24pm – Placido Polanco makes a leaping catch at second to end the inning and prevent a another run. Still, the Twins are up and I’m beginning to think about my hometown curse.

7:30pm – Marcus Thames ties it up with a bomb to the football seats in right field. The Metrodome has the absolute worst outfield fence in baseball. It’s just a giant tarp stretching from center to right. They don’t even have a yellow line to define what is and isn’t a homerun.

7:56pm – The Tigers make a defensive switch, removing Miguel Cabrera from the game. I’m assuming an injury but they don’t announce those things over the PA. It’s the only thing that’s lost by not watching the game at home. Maybe I should bring a radio to these games.

8:02pm – Galarraga throws a pitch to the backstop followed by a pitch inside which prompts a warning to both teams. For whatever reason, Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire comes running out like a freight train to argue this. I’m guessing its because he isn’t being given a chance to retaliate. I’d use the ‘It’s the only thing that’s lost by not watching the game at home’ line but I already used it. So it’s the second thing lost by not watching the game at home. I hope this doesn’t turn into a recreation of the Spanish Inquisition sketch. Anyway, Gardenhire must really have had better things to do because he got tossed in about 15 seconds and the standing ovation he got coming out to argue quickly turned to boos.

8:10pm - The Twins retake the lead.

8:30pm - Inbetween innings they continue the countdown to the new Twins stadium in 2010. 117 home games remaining over the next season and a half.

8:37pm – Some guys in the bleachers – excuse me, The Home Run Porch – are trying to get The Wave started. And these fans had been great up to this point.

9:02pm – Tigers manager Jim Leland comes out to argue a blooper which looked like a catch in right center that was ruled a trap. It resulted in a double and another run for the Twins. Leland is out there far longer than Gardenhire was but doesn’t join his counterpart in the clubhouse.

9:22pm – Twins bench coach Steve Liddle uses 4 pitchers to get 3 outs in the 7th inning. Somewhere in St. Louis Tony LaRussa sheds a tear of joy. The Twins get the outs but give up two runs and they look like they’re trying to blow this game. Come on guys, just two more innings.

9:45pm – The bullpen gives up two more in the top of the eigth and the Tigers have the lead. Unbelievable. The home team just can’t win when I’m there. A guess this saves me from watching Joe Nathen close it out. He’s on the cover of the Twins program and reading the article on him was depressing. I don’t need to be reminded of the Giants worst trade in 40 years.

9:52pm – We’re in the bottom of the 8th in a one run game and the Home Run Porch crowd is attempting another wave. All I can do is shake my head.

10:15pm – Joel Zumaya shuts the doors on the Twins with 2 strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth. The home team record on the deathtour is now 2-10. Everyone files out quickly but I take my time to snap a few pics of the Twins hall of retired numbers. Kent "I'd like to buy a vowel" Hrbek, Harmon "Cardcarrying member of the Skrull" Killebrew (Chris Berman would be proud of that one) and Kirby Puckett.

The Reds are going to need a lot of luck with me in the crowd to break the streak. Next up: 22 Hours In Cincinnati!

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