Inside a small apartment, tucked away in the second drawer of an IKEA-engineered dresser, there is a 30-year-old T-shirt with three screen-printed words: “Save the Met.” The shirt, which is vaguely the same color as bare skin or off-brand peanut butter, is as unremarkable as it is ugly, but to a Minnesota baseball fan, it might as well be the Shroud of Turin.
For the faithful, it represents tangible evidence of outdoor baseball’s existence in the land of the ice and snow — a land that for the past 28 years has been dominated by the world’s least interesting inflatable castle. It also represents nostalgia, where in the dark years of Scott Stahoviak and Ron Coomer, one could revisit the hagiographies of Killebrew and Carew.
But it may finally be time to bury those memories — and that shirt — next to the North Stars and Kevin Garnett. We are all about to bear witness to the second coming.
On March 27, 2010, the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field will finally open its doors to baseball.
The inaugural game, which pits the University of Minnesota against Louisiana Tech (a Big Ten school with a baseball team? That’s weird) will be of little consequence, but the symbolism will be monumental. For over three years, we’ve watched the building site like gawkers in front of the Wonka Factory, hunting for unlocked gates or napping security guards.
Sure, naming a stadium after a retail chain doesn’t exactly inspire the same enthusiasm as one named after a beer or a bailed-out financial institution, but at least Target is still run by Americans. Just wait until they start playing cricket at Miller Park.
Ultimately, the need to follow the stadium came from the bewilderment that it was actually being built. For years, the Twins complained about their need for a new ballpark, and for years, the state legislature ignored them. Even in the face of Commissioner Bud Selig’s contraction threats, there was little push to get something done.
And yet here we are, amid a massive recession, substantial unemployment and failing inner-city schools, ready to cut the ribbon to a taxpayer-funded ballpark. It’s not right. It’s indicative of a society’s downfall, where McDonald’s salads are health food and affordable medicine is communist.
And we couldn’t be happier.
At least most of us couldn’t be happier. As Lincoln said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but only if you wear a really big hat.” This is, after all, why Lincoln wore a really big hat. It’s also why John Wilkes Booth hated him.
But Target Field won’t be sporting a really big hat — or, as architects like to call it, a roof — so it goes without saying that not everyone is pleased. However, for every pseudo-northerner who relies on retractable roofs, winter jackets and heating bills to stay comfortable, there’s a Metropolitan Stadium disciple willing to spread the truth regarding average monthly temperatures in the United States.
There are at least seven major league baseball cities (and eight teams) with an average aggregate April temperature between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit: Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Boston — it’s possible that Cincinnati’s in there, too, although apparently the NOAA doesn’t feel the Queen City deserves mention in their giant graph, and it’s hard to blame them.
As of today, only one of those eight teams plays in a roofed stadium. The world has not ended. And no matter what Pat Robertson says, Target Field will not spur on the apocalypse.
Of course, nothing silences tax dollar and temperature grumblings more effectively than July baseball under something that’s not Teflon or steel. We may miss the cheap tickets, the rowdy student nights, the noise and the wind tunnel exits, but we won’t miss facing the 50-yard line, the sea of blue seats, the bathroom troughs or Butch Huskey.
Well, we might actually miss Butch Huskey.
Time heals most non-life threatening wounds, and nostalgia works in cycles. People actually like “Don’t Stop Believing” now. And despite what the introduction tried to convey, it’s not like many people actually miss the Met. It was falling apart; the third deck of the stadium was condemned by the late 1970’s. It wasn’t about saving Metropolitan Stadium — it was about saving outdoor baseball.
Now if only we could swap the Wild for the Stars.
Sean is a senior majoring in journalism and Minnesota history. Are you excited to attend a baseball game outdoors in the Land of 10,000 lakes? Or did you prefer the turf and inflatable nature of the Dome? Let him know at [email protected]