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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day

Opening Day

“Down, 3-1. Bottom of the ninth. One on. Nobody out. The Yankees against the Minnesota Twins. Game 2 of the American League Division Series, October 2009,” writes National Book Award winner Colum McCann in his wonderful New York Times essay, What Baseball Does to the Soul. For the Yankee fan and his son, the moment was charged with electricity.

“A-Rod is at the plate. The air has that chewy sense of hope. There is always call for a miracle."

“It’s gonna happen, Dad.”

“This is what baseball can do to the soul: it has the ability to make you believe in spite of all other available evidence.”

The moment did happen for slugger Alex Rodriguez, further cementing Twins fans’ feelings regarding the Yankees. Unfortunately the Twins lost that game, but the outcome created a memorable moment for McCann, a native of Ireland and current New York resident who came to baseball later in his life. America’s pastime, he writes, has strengthened the bond between generations who place their hopes upon their favored teams. “We become the children of our children, the sons of our sons,” writes McCann. “We watch our kids as if watching ourselves. We take on the burden of their victories and defeats. It is our privilege, our curse too. We get older and younger at the same time.”

Photo by Todd Buchanan

For the big-league baseball fan, today is (or should be) a national holiday: Opening Day. And while the Twins don’t play until Friday, the 2012 season is upon us. We are fortunate to have one of the finest ballparks in the entire league. We love our new ballpark and we love the Twins. Last year, nearly 3.2 million fans from across the region and across the country made their way to Target Field—nearly 900,000 more fans than the American League average yearly attendance. Over the past two seasons, Target Field has revitalized the Warehouse District. While fans worry whether the Twins can recover from their dismal 2011 season, they will continue to support their team. Some tips to help you plan your trip:

  • Tickets are nearly sold out for the home opener, but some standing room only tickets remain. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet this year, they are going fast. You can find them here at the Twins website, or at StubHub.
  • Hotdogs and beer have been the standard stadium fare for a hundred years. Nevertheless, stadiums around the country have been adding more local cuisine in the hopes of creating a unique experience for fans. The Twins are no exception. This year the Twins will be adding even more Minnesota-centric concessions to the mix, according to the Star Tribune. Look for the baked potato bar and deep-fried pickle chips at the State Fair vendors. One unique addition is the cheese-filled giant meatball from Valentini’s Supper Club of Chisholm and Duluth.
  • For a closer look inside Target Field, consider the game day, and non-game day public tours during your visit to the Twin Cities. Prices vary and are subject to availability, but the 90-minute tour takes you inside the clubhouse, field, and dugout areas that are normally off limits. Wear comfortable shoes.

During the 2012 season, other baseball franchises will recognize important stadium landmarks. Credited with starting the trend of new ballparks with an old-time charm, famed Camden Yards in Baltimore celebrates its 20th anniversary. The truly authentic Fenway Park in Boston celebrates a century of baseball, while the newly named Miami Marlins begin this season in a brand new field that many believe to be the signal of a new wave of stadium architecture and design. All of them will continue to house those magical baseball moments.

“I never meant to fall in love with baseball, but I did,” writes McCann. “I learned to realize that it does what all good sports should do: it creates the possibility of joy.”

P.S. Andy Sturdevant  of MinnPost and Sam Utne of  Minnesota Culture Club thought that the Twins ought to have an additional anthem to sing at their games, much like professional soccer teams. So the two of them created this  tribute, a reworked version of the Leeds United song. Go Twins!

Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2012 in Permalink

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