On the road again...New York state of mind
21.5 hours. That's how long it takes to drive straight from Mitchell, SD to The Bronx, NY. 21.5 hours.
Four games against the Bronx Bombers, the Twins' playoff kryptonite, the &#@%! Yankees.
The first road trip through Kansas City and Miami involved a decent 6 hour drive, and a flight to the SE corner of America. Seven nights away from home.
In Kansas City I found the traditional opening day experience. Overpriced tickets, a giant flag, recognizing the whole roster on the field for pre-game ceremony, some old-time heros, some kids skipping school, and a bit of anticipation about how the previous year translates into this year.
The Twins fans at Kauffman Stadium arrived early and cheered loudly, for the most part drowned out by an over-sized crowd of Royal blue. The next five games on the road trip were the exact opposite. Twins fans held their own, and probably equalled or surpassed the home team at both stadiums. I walked around and had at least a hundred conversations (I know because I handed out over a hundred business cards!), and the Twins faithful couldn't have been nicer. They all had stories to share...how many stadiums they had been to, where they were going next, why did we trade Arraez?
I asked fans to send me their photos from the stadium, or any stories or interactions with the team that they wanted to share. I wasn't prepared for the amount of response that I received!
After I wrap up these four games in New York, a trip over to Cooperstown, and three more games at Fenway Park, I plan to release a front-page summary of the first two road trips. Sort of a "what you notice on the road that the cameras and announcers don't pick up" type of vibe. Player interactions before and during the game, new rules in different stadiums and how they are impacting the experience of the team and also the staff at the ballparks (Did you think about how staff working an MLB game now make an hour less of pay per game thanks to the pitch clock?), and how the experience of getting to and from the ballpark varies from place to place.
My week at home between these two lengthy (distance and time) series didn't allow for much reflection. Kansas city sweep, quality time with old friends and mentors, meeting Twins employees and players for the first time, the Negro League Hall of Fame, the Miami empty stadium and sunburn, culture shock, jet lag, school kid excitement, and, of course, the moments that you wouldn't believe unless they happened to you.
I think my biggest takeaway so far is that these moments didn't just happen to me...they were shared by my fellow fans at the stadium, they got echoed through our time together, and amplified when shared with others. I learned that these stories that I'll be sharing over the next two years aren't just my stories, they are our stories.
I'm only a few hours from the Big Apple now, time to get back into the "where in the world are we?" navigational seat with my trusty co-pilot Eric Van Meter. Let's take 5 of 7 at these shrines of baseball and meet you back at Target Field :)
Going to the games in NYC or Boston? Send me a note at TwinsTrefz@gmail.com
Thanks to fellow Twins fan Harrison Smith who captured the opening day national anthem photo shown at the top! Bullpen view!