Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicago White Sox 6 at Minnesota Twins 7 - July 18, 2010


The final game of the series was a Sunday afternoon affair. Minnesota had taken two out of the first three and the White Sox were looking to gain a split. But before I get to the game, a bit more on Target Field.

Eating at the Ballpark

There are so many options here that even three days is not enough to sample all the fare. As you walk around the stadium, you will be inundated with different food choices. Most of these are locally owned eateries who have been brought into the ballpark to provide fans with samples of their fare. The recommended option is Kramarczuk Sausages, which are made fresh daily and available from two carts on the concourse. Kramarczuk is a small company that has seen their business grow significantly since they started providing their Polish Sausages and Bratwursts at Target Field.

Other famous food that I didn't get a chance to try include Murray's Steak Sandwich, Schweigert Hot Dogs, the Vincent Burger, and J.D. Hoyt's Pork Chop On-a-Stick. Again, all of these are local restaurants that are selling their signature item at the ballpark.

If you want to sit down for your meal, try the Town Ball Tavern on the same level as the Legend's Club, just above right field. All of these menu items are available with wait service. But you have to get there early, it gets full by about 30 minutes after the ballpark opens. It's also a bit more expensive with tax and tip included, but it's more relaxing than eating at your seat. The Loon Cafe Chili which comes in a sourdough bread bowl was quite nice.


Overall Impression



Target Field is a great venue that does a lot to commemorate the history of the franchise. There are so many positives here: the location, accessibility by the LRT, the understated decor, the food choices, the scoreboards, the various ways that all-time greats are honoured, and friendly staff that let you walk around. There are also plenty of standing areas so you can buy a cheap ticket and then stand close to the action if you prefer.

The only problem I have with the place is that much of the history is not available to the average fan. For example, the two World Series trophies are only on display in the Champion's Club, where tickets start at $175. These trophies should be shown where all fans can see them, as they are in Arizona and Anaheim.

The size of the concourses does make it crowded, particularly when the game is over, but this is because of the limited area they had to build on. The stadium holds just over 40,000 including standing room. Every game is sold out this season, but tickets were easily available from scalpers outside the stadium, so practice your negotiating skills.

I highly recommend Target Field to any ballpark roadtripper. With the Twins challenging for the Central crown this year, it is definitely a good time to add this one to the list.

Roadtripper Convention

Sunday's game saw a convention of sports roadtrippers. Gary and the King from Royalty Tours, along with their friends Brian and Lloyd came in from New York. Andrew and Peter of the Ultimate Sports Road Trip were visiting from Buffalo, and Sharpy was down from Ottawa. The eight of us sat together and shared war stories about this or that ballpark. It was a lot of fun to see everybody in one place, but as they all had flights after the game, we didn't get a chance to relax. Thanks again to Twins VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger for arranging tickets for us, great seats for a great game.

The Game

The polar opposite of Saturday's speedy affair, this one saw lots of hits - both teams had 16 of them. The starters were Freddy Garcia for Chicago and Nick Blackburn for Minnesota. The Twins opened the scoring in the 2nd on a Delmon Young 2-run homer. Both teams plated singletons in the third, and the White Sox closed within one in the 5th when Juan Pierre grounded out to drive in Alexei Ramirez.

In the sixth, Carlos Quentin doubled home two runs to end Blackburn's night. Ramon Castro and Gordon Beckham followed with RBI singles off Brian Duensing to give the Chisox a 6-3 lead. Garcia was replaced after 6 innings himself and relievers Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz each pitched a scoreless frame to bring it to the ninth.

Omar Vizquel fouls one off

Bobby Jenks came in and walked Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer. Jason Kubel singled to score one run and then Michael Cuddyer singled to make it 6-5. Jenks was taken out and Sergio Santos was brought in to quell the uprising, but a walk to Jason Repko loaded the bases.

Young came to the plate and drove a pitch to right center. I thought it would be caught, but Alex Rios took a strange path to the ball and it fell in to tie the game. Rios then hurled the ball towards the infield, where it sailed over everybody. Cuddyer raced for home and scored the winning run! Twins Win!


A four-run outburst in the last inning gave Minnesota their third victory in a row and narrowed Chicago's lead to 1.5 games over both Detroit and the Twins. It was a fantastic finish to the weekend and certainly bodes well for a very exciting Central Division pennant race over the next couple of months.

Twingo

One interesting promotion was a version of baseball bingo that I've seen in the minor leagues but never in the majors. Called Twingo, you pick up a card at Guest Services. Like bingo, each card has 24 squares surrounding a freebie in the middle. Each square lists a baseball play and if it happens in the game, you circle it on your card. Five in a row in any direction gets you Twingo and a prize pack. Most plays are common, such as "BB" or "4-3", but others are quite rare such as "3-4" or "9-5". It is these rare ones you need to get Twingo. Only 25 winners are allowed per game, and I started well, getting a 1-6-3 double play in the first and a couple of fly outs. I had 4 in a row and just needed an unassisted putout by the third baseman, but it was not to be. In the middle of the 4th they announced that all Twingo prizes had been awarded. Oh well. It's still a fun way to add a bit of spice to the game, and a good way to learn how to score too. Try it if you can.

Next Up

I'm in Kansas City now after a doubleheader today that started in Clinton, IA. All the games and driving have left me a bit behind on posts, but check back tomorrow when I should be caught up.

Best,

Sean

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