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Twins channel fans’ raw energy

September 29, 2008

by Stephen Wiblemo

42,126.

That was the announced attendance at the Twins game Sept. 24, the second of the three-game series they swept from the Chicago White Sox.

You can count me as one of those fans, I was seated on the third-base side in section 135, about half-way up.

While I doubt anybody watching the game on television would have spotted me in that mass of writhing Minnesota fans (I didn’t bring a circle-me-Bert sign), I am pretty sure you would have heard me. Me and my 42,000 friends or so that is – minus those poor lost souls known as White Sox fans.

The Metrodome was bumping for three straight nights and after having been a part of one of those, I can say with certainty that it was the second best Twins game I have ever seen, second only to the game I witnessed last year when Johan Santana struck out a franchise-best 17 batters against the Rangers – you just can’t imagine seeing so many little Ks on a video board.

When I arrived at the game with my friends, we had about 10 minutes until game time. It was a Wednesday, so we had it planned out that we would each grab a couple of Dollar Dome Dogs, a couple of barley beverages, and then find our seats just in time for the first pitch and not have to move until about the fifth inning when nature would inevitably call.

Well, things didn’t go exactly how we planned them.

First of all, the lines were incredible. I probably could have predicted this, but it was still astonishing.

What was more amazing was that the Dollar Dome Dogs were sold out before I even got there.

Apparently there is a maximum of 20,000 Dollar Dome Dogs, and those had been sold before the game even started.

There were still plenty of Dome Dogs, but they would cost me the standard $5 for a luke-warm wiener and a deflated bag of chips.

Oh well, I didn’t care. And I didn’t care that I had to check six different condiment stations before I found one with onions, or that I didn’t finally get to my seat until the second inning.

None of that mattered as I nestled into the one foot by two feet cubby that would be my home for the next three hours.

The game I went to didn’t exactly have the most action – the Twins won 3-2 and the scoring was done after the fourth inning – but there was still plenty of things to be loud about.

Although Nick Blackburn only went five innings, he managed to dodge several tight situations. And once he left, fans couldn’t wait to cheer for the next reliever Ron Gardenhire would send to the mound.

There was an older lady sitting next to me that I didn’t know, but I do know I high-fived her on at least two occasions, and she instigated it.

The loudest part of the whole game was in the ninth inning when Carlos Gomez ran down a fly ball off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski.

That’s another thing. I can’t imagine what it would feel and sound like to have 42,000 people booing you all at once. It happened every time Pierzynski came to the plate, and even though I was one of those boo birds, I give the guy credit for being able to do it.

When Gardenhire and the other Twins speak of the “10th player” on the field, they aren’t just spouting pro-fan rhetoric.

The fans really can have a huge effect on the players, and when you see young guys like Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, and Alexi Casilla soaking up that energy and channeling it on the field or at the plate, there is no doubt that the Minnesota Twins have the best fan base in the major leagues.

And that goes well with some of the best young talent in the majors.

I’m writing this Friday, so I don’t know how the series against the Royals has played out and whether the Twins have locked themselves into the playoffs.

But, if the fan support was anything like it was against the White Sox, I expect that I will be receiving the American League Divisional Series playoff tickets that I ordered a couple weeks ago.