Sunday, July 18, 2010

Take Two on Target Field - Chicago White Sox 2 at Minnesota Twins 3 - July 17, 2010

As mentioned in the previous post, I've separated the Target Field info into separate posts as there is so much to discuss.


The Twins began play in 1961 when the team moved from Washington, which makes this their 50th season. During that time, there have been five iconic players that are honoured throughout Target Field. Harmon Killebrew (3), Tony Oliva (6), Rod Carew (29), Kirby Puckett (34), and Kent Hrbek (14) each have a gate numbered in their honour. It took me a while to figure this out because I couldn't find gate 28 next to gate 29. But it's a brilliant touch that I have not seen before.

Target Plaza

As you approach Target Field from 7th street, you will happen upon Target Plaza. This is where the Twins honour their greats in more traditional ways. There are statues of Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, and Rod Carew (all below).

There are nine topiaries designed as baseball bats that light up whenever one inning is completed. Currently the vines are only partway up these structures (shown below), but by season's end, they should be near the top. There is also a Twins Tradition Wall which recognizes every Twins player since 1961.

There is a large Golden Glove sculpture that includes a tribute to every Gold Glove winner in the team's history.

When you enter via Gate 34, you will see the original flagpole from Metropolitan Stadium. During the national anthem before each game, a veteran or member of the armed forces raises the flag on this flagpole; another new tradition that will soon be replicated elsewhere. In the picture below, the flagpole is the darker pole to the right.

There is also a large piece of art called the Wind Veil which covers one of the parking garages. It consists of small metallic panels that move with the wind creating different patterns at all times. A very nice way to cover up what is normally an eyesore. In the overview shot of the plaza at the top of the section, the Wind Veil is the large silver rectangle that dominates the scene.

The Tour

Thanks to my friends Andrew and Peter from the Ultimate Sports Road Trip, we were able to get a personal tour of Target Field from Patrick Klinger, the VP of Marketing for the Twins. Mr. Klinger spent nearly an hour of his time taking us through all the areas of the stadium. There's no doubt an immense amount of thought went into the design of this structure and it was fascinating to hear about it from one of the people who was part of the process.

We went to all the special seating areas where you would normally need tickets. Most impressive was the Champions Club, where the two World Series trophies are on display. We also visited the Metropolitan Club (below) which has memorabilia from the Met, where the Twins played until they moved to the Metrodome in 1982. These places have food galore and it looked delicious. I resisted the temptation to try to sneak a plate or two but there's no doubt that those members are enjoying their stadium experience to the fullest.

Some other facts that were mentioned: the ballpark has the second-smallest footprint in the majors (behind only AT&T Park), the wood back seats on the club level are the first wooden seats to be installed at a major league park since WWII, and the limestone that covers the exterior of the building was mined entirely in Minnesota.

The Twins wanted people to know that Target Field is a Minnesota ballpark. On that level they have succeeded wonderfully; you'll never forget where you are as you walk around. A big thank-you to Patrick Klinger for taking the time to show us everything in this incredible place.

In the next post, I'll talk about the food options and my overall impressions.

The Game

It looked like we would be delayed as a storm moved through the city about two hours before first pitch, but things cleared up and the game started on time. Mark Buehrle was on the hill for the White Sox against Carl Pavano. Both pitchers have been on their game and we were hoping for a quick one as the rains were threatening to return.

Chicago notched a run in the first when Paul Konerko singled home Alex Rios who had doubled. But Konerko was thrown out trying to advance and the inning was suddenly over. The Twins replied with 3 in the second. Michael Cuddyer doubled, Delmon Young singled, Jason Kubel (playing right field below in the throwback uniform) tripled and Danny Valencia doubled. It was rapid-fire hitting and it looked like Buehrle was in serious trouble but he settled down, retiring the next 3 in a row. In fact, he faced just two over the minimum the rest of the way.

But Pavano was equal to the task tonight. After a Konerko solo shot in the fourth made it 3-2, he faced only the minimum plus 1 over the final five frames. I think batters were told to make it quick as the storm was approaching and so they were swinging at everything.

Mark Kotsay at the plate

In the ninth, Pavano gave up a leadoff double to Omar Vizquel but he got Rios, Konerko, and Carlos Quentin in order to preserve the win and send the crowd home happy.

The game time was a delightful 1:52 and both pitchers threw complete games, a rarity these days. It is one of the best games I have seen and certainly the highlight of the trip.

Once the last pitch was thrown, we immediately headed out of the stadium as the rain was beginning to fall. We stopped in Hubert's, a bar next to the ballpark, and watched as the storm lashed the city. Apparently there was a tornado and hail in the northern suburbs, but all we saw was torrential rain and high winds. The storm only lasted a couple of hours, enough time to relax and share stories with Andrew and Peter. With the tour, the short game tucked in between rainstorms, and a few beers to close things out, it was a perfect day.



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