Friday, October 2, 2009

Ode to the Metrodome

Considering the name of this blog and my on going reviews of baseball stadiums it seems strange that I have never reviewed the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. It isn't like the place hasn't meant much to me. In fact it might be the opposite since the place has meant so much to me during my time up in the frozen tundra. Since this weekend is the final regular season home series it is about time I wrote something about a much loathed park.

I love the Metrodome. That doesn't mean I love everything about it or that I don't understand the many complaints about the place. I do. I know the aisles are long and the seats were apparently made for jockeys for who don't want to be facing home plate. There are some things I love that other people hate (a *Metrodome double) and some things I hate that other people love (the Dome Dog). Regardless the best things about the Metrodome are that the Twins play there and the tickets are cheap. That and the fond memories of games past.

*When a player loses a fly ball in the white background of the Dome usually the batter can make it to 2nd base for a double that in any other ballpark would have been an easy out. This is most common in the day time when the sun makes the Dome's roof even more tough on outfielders. The last Metrodome double I saw was a huge Orlando Cabrera double against the Tigers two weeks ago.

I have been to at least 63 games at the Metrodome. I can say this with complete confidence because I have the ticket stubs to back it up. There have been 51 Twins games, 5 NCAA tournament game, 4 Vikings games, 2 Gophers football games and 1 Gophers-Ohio St. baseball game. I didn't see the Rolling Stones play there, but I am as aware of that fact as I am that the Metrodome is the only place that has hosted a World Series, MLB All Star Game, Super Bowl and Final Four. I didn't meet my wife there, but I have gone on many dates with my future wife there. In fact the year (2006) I fell in love with her was the year I fell in the love with the Twins. That was the year of the tapas (not topless as my Mom initially thought) restaurant and the Piranhas.

My most memorable memories of the Metrdome:
  • White Sox - Twins - 2008 - Twins sweep and take the AL Central lead with 3 games left on a dramatic comeback. I can still vividly remember Span chasing Gomez around the bases for his game tying triple.
  • Orioles - Twins - 2009 - A what at the time seemed like a pretty meaningless game ends on a Delmon Young single.
  • A's - Twins - Game 1 - 2006 - Frank Thomas. And then Frank Thomas again. Zito should give Frank Thomas part of his $126M contract that he got in part for beating Johan Santana in this game.
  • A's - Twins - Game 2 - 2006 - Tori Hunter might have won a lot of Gold Gloves, but I always remember him diving and missing what ended up being a game losing inside the park home run.
  • Yankees - Twins - 2008 - ***Long Twins/Stats tangent...feel free to skip***I am not into hyperbole, so take that into account when I write that I saw what might be the most statistically improbable event that I will ever see in my baseball watching life. Here is the situation: Twins down 3 runs with runners on 1st and 2nd and a 0 balls 2 strikes count to Delmon Young in the bottom of the 8th inning. The pitcher for the Yankees is none other than Mariano Rivera. The same Mariano Rivera who has a career 2.26 era and has given up only 60 home runs (11 in his first year) in 1089 innings pitched. In fact in 2006, 2007 and 2008 he gave up only 3, 4, 4 home runs respectively all year. That means there is about a 50 times more likely chance of Rivera getting an out than giving up a home run. Delmon Young through his career has hit 35 home runs in 1723 at bats, which means there is about a 2% chance of him hitting a home run in any one his at bats. However, remember that it is an 0-2 count, which takes all of those odds down a little bit. Anyway, Young hit an opposite field home run to tie a game that the Twins would eventually lose on an Alex Rodriguez extra inning home run.
  • Kansas - Dayton - 2009 - Cole Aldrich dominates the Fliers by recording triple double.
  • Tigers - Twins - 2009 - As previously mentioned Cabrera hits a Metrodome double that leads to a victory over Verlander that makes the AL Central race a little bit closer.
I started this post on Friday when it looked like the Twins wouldn't have much of chance of making it to the playoffs. They were 2 games behind the Tigers with only 3 games left. There was still a little hope, but a betting man would have placed a large wager on the fact that Sunday's game against the Royals would be the last Twins game at the Metrodome. Well a lot of things happened (The White Sox won 2 against the Tigers and the Twins won 2 against the Royals including beating the eventual Cy Young winner Zach Greinke) and coming in this morning the Twins were tied for first the White Sox with one game to go. A lot had changed since the beginning of this post.

My friend Brian and I joined 51,000 people at the Metrodome and we were greeted with homer hankies and also a commemorative diploma celebrating the final regular season game. At the game there was the familiar sign in the home run porch counting down the remaining games at the Metrodome. All weekend was a celebration of the last games at the Metrodome. It turns out the only 1 game left countdown and the commemorative diploma were all for the second to last regular season game. The reason being is the Twins crushed the Royals and the Tigers beat the White Sox. That means for the second straight year the Twins will play in game 163 with the winner going to the playoffs to face the Yankees.

There is still a little more magic in the Metrodome. I will be in the upper club behind home plate for the game on Tuesday. I had made my peace with the Metrodome and was thankful that my last game there was a victory over the Tigers. The Metrodome wouldn't let go. The Twins did their best and with a lot of help the season will keep going for one more day. For such a much maligned ballpark it is appropriate that it ends this way. Let the record show that the final regular season game at Yankee Stadium was a pointless 7-3 victory over Baltimore. The final regular season game at the Metrodome was a very important Twins victory that forced a tiebreaker game against the division rival Tigers at of course the Metrodome.

This final series against the Royals combined with the Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Vikings and the tiebreaker on Tuesday with the Tigers helps serve as an example my final point on this long post. While the Metrodome might not have the best looking baseball stadium (partly because it is a football stadium), but for all its faults it can never be considered irrelevant.

If you are interested below are some other articles on the Metrodome:

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