I am not 100 percent sure if I have mentioned this before, but I have never seen an outdoor major league baseball game in my life.
Yep, for over 32 years I have been a die-hard baseball fan, and not once have I seen a game the way they were meant to played outside. At least at the major league level.
That is one of the reasons I hate the Metrodome so very much.
I figured that would all change next spring when the Twins opened up Target Field.
However, to my surprise, I will be getting to see outdoor baseball prior to even Target Field opening up.
The reason? Well, several friends and myself are taking a buddy out to Kansas City to watch a pair of Twins/Royals games next week for his bachelor party.
To be honest, every time I think about getting to sit out in the sun with a cold beverage and watch a Twins’ game, a smile comes across my face.
Sure, it always could rain and our trip could be washed out, but that is what baseball is all about.
That is why I just shake my head when I hear people complain that there won’t be a retractable roof on Target Field.
Did anybody in Minnesota, growing up playing baseball have a retractable roof on their local field? No, that is not baseball.
The weather is as big a part of baseball as anything else, and the chance to finally experience that at the major league level is something I am really looking forward to.
Go Twins, and go outside baseball. The way it was meant to be played with rain and all.
My All-Metrodome Twins’ team
I’ve been griping since I’ve been working in the newspaper business that the Twins needed to get out of the Dome and have an outdoor stadium.
Well, a few years back my dream started to become a reality when construction started on an open-air stadium in Minneapolis.
Now the Twins are in the midst of their final season at the hated Dome, and it doesn’t even seem real to me.
It probably won’t sink in completely until the Twins play their first game at Target Field next spring.
With that said, and this being the final season of Twins baseball in the Metrodome, a cool little promotion is going on.
The Twins are having a vote for the All-Metrodome team.
This is how it goes the upper midwest media, a veteran’s committee, and the fans will all get to vote.
Voting amongst the three groups will be weighted equally with each group’s vote counting as one-third of the final team.
The official ballot consists of 66 players and three managers spanning the Twins’ 27-plus year history in the Metrodome.
As a media member, I received a ballot from the Twins, and am excited to vote.
The team will be introduced as part of the post-game ceremonies following the final regular season game Sunday, October 4.
Alright, enough of the technical talk, let’s get to the fun stuff the voting.
For me, it all starts with the manager, where the three options are Billy Gardner, Tom Kelly, and Ron Gardenhire.
This was an easy choice for me. Tom Kelly, hands down, should be the selection. Two World Series Championships, need I say more.
From there, I’ll move on to the pitchers where a voter selects three starting pitchers and two relief pitchers.
Starting pitchers were tough for me to narrow down, but I picked a pair of lefties right away Frank Viola and Johan Santana.
Both were Cy Young Award winners, and you can’t argue with that.
The third selection was tough, as I tried to decide between Bert Blyleven, Scott Erickson, Jack Morris, Brad Radtke, and Kevin Tapani.
In the end, I just had to vote for Bert and his amazing curve ball.
Now looking at the relief pitchers, I knew my top three before even looking at the ballot, but could only select two.
So I went with Joe Nathan and Rick Aguilera, and left Jeff Reardon off my list.
In the end, the fact that Reardon only pitched three years for the Twins was the deciding factor.
Going to the position players, I really didn’t have any tough choices in voting other than at first base.
In the outfield I picked Torii Hunter, Kirby Puckett, and Tom Brunansky.
The catcher is obviously Joe Mauer, with Gary Gaetti at third base, Greg Gagne at shortstop, Chuck Knoblauch at second base, and Paul Molitor as the designated hitter.
Back to first base, I ended up picking Justin Morneau over Kent Hrbek, and I hated to do it.
In reality, if the ballot would have let me, I would have had Hrbeck at first base, moving Morneau to the DH spot, and taking Molitor out.
Yes, I love Molitor, but I’d rather have Hrbek on this team than him.
Alright, that was fun, and I am excited to see in October if the other voters agreed with me.
If you would like to vote, just go to www.twinsbaseball.com and cast your ballot.
TCF Bank Stadium opening soon
In just three short months, Gopher football fans every-where will finally have a stadium to call their own.
TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota will open this fall, and every Gopher fan I have spoken to couldn’t be happier.
The actual first home game for the Gophers will take place Saturday, Sept. 12 against Air Force.
Now, the only real complaint I have about that opening game is that it will begin at 6 p.m.
I think that is not the way the stadium should get its start. Instead, I would prefer for a 1 p.m. start, like college football should be played.
But that is neither here nor there. The main thing is the Gophers will be back on campus and outside, where college football should be played.
Now, the process for season ticket holders to get their new seats at the TCF Bank Stadium was an interesting one.
A number of local fans have had season tickets at the Metrodome for many, many years, and now they have moved on and gotten seats at the Gophers’ new digs.
I am not going to get into too many nuts and bolts of how the seats were selected, but will make it as simple as I can.
Gopher season ticket holders were awarded points for numerous reasons like how long they have owned season tickets.
Then, depending on the number of points that person had, they were given a time and day when to call, or check online, or go in person, and select their seats from the ones that were still available.
Of course there are many other factors, but I’m not getting into those.
Anyway, according to one season ticket holder, the process went smoothly and he thought very well.
Either way, it sure is going to be exciting to watch Gopher football outside once again.
When I was a very, very young boy, my father and uncle took me to a Gopher football game at the old Memorial Stadium and I am looking forward to watching Gopher football outside again.
Former WCC team finding much success
It wasn’t all that long ago when St. Michael-Albertville was battling the likes of Glencoe-Silver Lake and Delano for Wright County Conference dominance in football.
STMA was also very strong in many other sports, and annually competed near or at the top of the WCC.
Well, as the school district grew, STMA determined that it was time to head out of the WCC and find a bigger conference.
STMA ended up joining the Mississippi 8 conference, with former WCC rival Becker also coming along.
It hasn’t taken long and STMA is now one of the strongest teams in the Mississippi 8, and enjoyed a historic year at the state level in 2008-09.
Last week, the STMA baseball team won the Class 3A state championship, but that was only the punctuation mark to an outstanding season.
Five teams from STMA qualified for state tournaments this past school year.
The Knights also had teams make the state tournament in football, girls’ soccer, girls’ basketball, and wrestling.
Besides the baseball team, the girls’ basketball also won their state tournament, claiming the Class 3A state championship.
Meanwhile, the wrestling team finished fourth in Class 2A, and the football team reached the Class 4A semifinals.