Report from The Fort: Spring Training Gives Hints on Target Field’s Season
The game itself was even less meaningful than most spring training games, if that’s even possible. But the event, with an estimated 2154 fans attending a live baseball game while a nation limps towards a COVID finish line has repercussions throughout the baseball world. It also likely gives a glimpse as to what we might expect at Target Field this year.
It starts hours before fans enter the stadium. Lot of disinfectant is brandished on handrails.
The gates open about 90 minutes before gametime, but don’t expect to see the road team taking batting practice, at least not a Hammond Stadium. Yesterday, the Red Sox took BP on a side field, while the Twins had their BP in the stadium. I expect that will not be the case during the regular season.
Masks are required throughout the stadium, even when outdoors, unless you’re eating or drinking. Yes, this creates a sizable loophole, but the team seems like they’re pretty serious about enforcing social distancing. Tickets can only be bought in groups of two or four, and all the seats around sold seats are zip-tied shut.
There are no common areas in which to eat in the ballpark; they clearly want people to eat in their socially-distanced seats.
This will likely provide a special challenge in some sections of Target Field, just like it does in Hammond Field. The only way to enforce this is with manpower. They are doing so.
Concessions and beers might also have a new look at Target Field, too. The Twins announced this week that they’re unveiling a new say to order concessions through the MLB Ballpark app, which will allow you to just swing by the concession stand to pick up your order.
On the other hand, it’s not clear how they’ll handle the bar areas in Target Field. Today, at least, it was probably the one area I found that felt a little too cozy.
For what it’s worth, the restrictions don’t seems to be keeping people away from the ballpark. There were tickets made available to the general public on Thursday. They sold out within a matter of a couple of hours, even though the games are only seven innings long. What’s more, we’ve been warned to expect some other quirkiness, such as we saw yesterday when the Twins batted in the bottom of the seventh – with the lead.
Whatever. The crowd just wanted baseball. And baseball wanted the crowd. It was noticed by the players, particularly Twins starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer. “I get out early as you guys know,” Smeltzer admitted. “I heard some fans, and some normalcy out there. It was pretty emotional. I got choked up a little bit.”
He wasn’t the only emotional one in Hammond today, but most of the emotions I witnessed were some mixture of joy and relief and maybe a little wonderment at how good meaningless baseball can feel.
Or maybe it wasn’t so meaningless. Certainly the efforts to bring it back were not. It required some reasonable attempts to solve a difficult problem, while keeping an eye on some widespread repercussions. As my hot dog vendor said “If we screw this up, it could mean no fans for all of baseball.”
Overall, it didn’t look like they’re overtly screwing it up, and it gave me a lot of hope that we’ll have some similar experiences in Minnesota this summer.
- tarheeltwinsfan, JLease, CUtomorrownight and 4 others like this