Happy Opening Week! As a Twins fan who was a kid during the Metrodome era of the aughts, I have fond, cherished memories of being swept away by the wind when the Metrodome doors were opened after games, the giant milk jug down the first baseline, the outfield curtain, Dome Dogs, and uncountable other quirks and joys. Though I have strong nostalgia for our beloved Dome, there is no question that Target Field is one of the most beautiful, scenic stadiums in the MLB. Nothing can compare to sitting out at a a game with your friends on a perfect 70-some degree evening, and Target Field certainly is a great place to do it. In celebration of our beloved team taking the field this week, here are some of my favorite things about Target Field:
1. The view of the city skyline from the 3rd baseline- I’ve gone to uncountable Twins games since Target Field opened, but I think I can count the number of times I’ve sat down the first baseline or in the outfield on two hands. There’s nothing wrong with sitting elsewhere in the park- they just don’t offer the same sweeping views of the downtown skyline. No, Target Field does not have giant tailgate lots like the Brewers or White Sox, but the stadium's location smack-dab in the middle of downtown Minneapolis makes up for it. The giant Target dog Bullseye wagging his tail in right field is also pretty cute. If you’re looking for something to do in between innings, try counting the number of times he wags his tail in a minute, then extrapolate that into month, year, etc.
2. Club Rayne during rain delays- There is nothing quite as groan-inducing as when the clouds roll in and the Target Field grounds crew descends upon the field with a tarp. However, rain delays are made much more tolerable- and even entertaining- due to the Twins opening up “Club Rayne” during each rain delay- a bit where the Twins throw a rain delay dance party and show fans dancing on the jumbotron to somewhat chaotic party music ranging from intense electronic music you might hear at a club to Michael Jackson. Last year during a rain delay my brother got extended screentime on the jumbotron by doing the Thriller dance. The Twins also find other ways to pass the time during rain delays; last year’s Home Opener was briefly stopped by a rain delay and Target Field played part of the NCAA hockey tournament that was happening concurrently. It looks like Club Rayne dates back to Target Field’s early days, so Twins fans have been dancing in the rain for almost a decade. I'm hoping for few rain delays this year, but if the clouds do open up, I'm ready to get down.
3. The real organist- Target Field-goers may or may not be aware that the stadium has its own organ player- Sue Nelson- who has been the Twins’ full-time organist since 1999! Look for her upbeat stylings in the 2 Gingers Pub located near sections 214-216. In a game that's constantly evolving, having an organ played live is a sweet nod to the game's longstanding traditions- similar to the players wearing button-up shirts, fans singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and coaches wearing baseball uniforms just like the players. Today, about 50% of MLB ballparks have a live organ player, so Nelson is one of the many reasons why Target Field is so special and unique.
4. Friday night fireworks- The Twins light up the downtown skyline with postgame fireworks every Friday night game from June to August. They are impressive shows that are accompanied by music- often tying in with the game’s theme (Star Wars songs for Star Wars night, for example). The downtown skyline and the Minne and Paul sign are simply a gorgeous backdrop to the show. The St. Paul Saints also do Fireworks Fridays too. It feels a little strange following up a Twins or Saints loss with fireworks, but the show must go on! Going to these Friday games is one of my favorite summer things to do with my friends because the show is a perfect, multicolor cherry on top to a beautiful evening.
5. Minnie and Paul shaking hands after a win- Adorable and unique. I really enjoy how Target Field ties in both tradition with modernity (now to get the Twins to start wearing the “M” hats again). Now that the Saints are over across the river, our favorite centerfield staples seem even more applicable. I also love how they play the same song after every win- 'On Top of the World' by Imagine Dragons.
6. Artwork outside the stadium- It is clear that the stadium was planned with painstaking detail; even the outside is lovely and unique too. The outside of the stadium is lined with murals and is surrounded with sculptures ranging from Kirby Puckett's iconic homerun trot to the giant glove that fans commonly sit inside to take pictures. Next time you're early for a game, take a lap around the outside of the stadium- I realized at one point that because I always park in the same spot and go in the same entrance, I didn't even quite know all that was there!
7. Cool giveaways- Though the Twins run a lot of special theme night packages, they still have some cool fan giveaways. The Twins always treat Opening Day fans right by giving away quality items like a Twins puffer vest or hooded zip-up sweatshirt. My siblings in particular love going to bobblehead days. Last year I showed up way early to get a baby blue giveaway jersey. Albeit thin material, it is a quality giveaway and will look great with a little ironing. It even has buttons and the patches!
8. The Mascot Race- I love the Mascot Race and taking harmless bets with my buddies on who is going to win (I usually pick Bullseye- the Twins gotta uphold that Target sponsorship so the odds should be good, ya know?) I like Gracie the Gray Duck probably the best though. On Sundays the mascot race is run by cute kinds who rather than wearing the full mascot costume are just wearing mini versions of the mascot heads. The best was when the Twins had fans text in their pick for the race and if they won, they would get a coupon for something free like sunscreen or Oreos at Target. Let's bring that back, eh Twins?
9. Twingo and the Pick 3 Game- I have never won either but have come close. These are fun ways to be even more invested in the game and pay attention to the game's happenings. My Pick 3 strategy is to pick players who others are not likely to pick. Everyone is going to pick Buxton, so I gotta gain an edge somewhere, right? Then again, like I said I have never won, so proceed with my advice with caution.
10. Dollar Dog Night- Nothing beats getting dinner- or following dinner up- with a dollar dog (or two or several). My friends and I enjoy going to these Dollar Dog games and buying round of hotdogs like people do with drinks at bars. They are delicious but not filling, so the amount of Dollar Dogs I could put away if I wanted is dangerous. Last year on a couple occasions I remember the Twins even toasted the inside of the hotdog bun! Not bad for a buck.
That's it for now! I can't wait for another season of games at this beautiful stadium. What are some of your favorite things about Target Field?
We are less than two weeks away from the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season. The free agent frenzy was every bit the excitement we had hoped for following the lockout and teams are largely complete at this point. The American League Central Division had just one Postseason participant, but the hope would be for two with the field expanding to 12 teams.
The Chicago White Sox return as the division winners and will look to carry that crown for a second season. While there’s no juggernaut here, it should be expected that there’s no cellar dweller either.
Here’s how I see the division shaking out with PECOTA projections in parentheses.
Chicago White Sox 89-73 (91-71)
Chicago really didn’t do a whole lot this winter, but they also really didn’t need to. Having Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez for a full season will represent the greatest benefit they could gain from the offseason. Kendall Graveman makes an already good bullpen better, and Joe Kelly only enhances that. They should still have a very strong lineup, and the hope would be continued dominance from the rotation. There’s no doubt that they are the favorites here.
Minnesota Twins 85-77 (86-76)
If there’s a team that could go up or down more than almost any other in baseball it could be Minnesota. Byron Buxton is a superstar, and now he has a partner in Carlos Correa. How much resurgence could Gary Sanchez or Gio Ursehla find in their new home? Sonny Gray is a dependable arm, but from there it’s questionable veterans and untested rookies. If things go bad, it will likely be because the arms simply weren’t enough. This could be a very good team, a mediocre team, or a relatively bad team virtually all tied to what happens on the mound.
Detroit Tigers 77-85 (67-95)
Javier Baez’s deal with Detroit surprised many because of the assumed tie between Carlos Correa and A.J. Hinch. Baez has plenty of flaws but some of them are a bit overstated. He gives a winning presence to a team on the cusp. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should be in the lineup soon, and Akil Baddoo turned out to be a bad man last year. I don’t know how well they’ll pitch, but acquiring Eduardo Rodriguez was a smart move.
Kansas City Royals 75-87 (70-92)
Prospects are the name of the game for the Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. looks like a superstar as does both M.J. Melendez and Nick Pratto. Salvador Perez put up insane numbers a season ago and will look to replicate that performance. Pitching is questionable here too, and I’m not sure Zack Greinke has much left in the tank. The bullpen is uninspiring, and there’s plenty of lineup holes. They’re getting better, but not there yet.
Cleveland Guardians 73-89 (77-85)
You don’t have to look much further than the newly named Guardians to find the Central’s most rudderless team. The farm system isn’t elite, but the Major League roster is also barren. Jose Ramirez is amazing, and a healthy Shane Bieber is lights out, but beyond that there’s very little to like here. A lot of post-hype prospects and guys that have ceilings they never got close to touching reside on this roster. Alongside their lack of spending this offseason, deciding not to blow it up was a weird path forward.
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