Friday, May 7, 2010

Dome Sweet Dome

As I right this, the Minnesota Twins should be hosting the Baltimore Orioles in the second of a four-game series. Mother Nature had other ideas, as the Twins have been rained out for the first time in almost thirty years.

How was that possible? Easily. The Metrodome. In my opinion, it went before it's time. Sure, it still stands, but the Twins don't play there anymore. It's a shame, really. That place holds so many fond baseball memories...

It's where I saw my first MLB game. Wednesday, August 12th, 1992. Minnesota's just two games back of the Oakland Athletics (their primary rival of the late '80s and early '90s, but that's another story for another day). Minnesota was hosting the Texas Rangers. Closer Rick Aguilera gave up a three-run homer to Juan Gonzalez in the top of the ninth to blow the save and lose the game 5-3. The thing I remember most was the guy in the row behind me, pretending to read a story out of the back-to-school binders handed out to schoolchildren for that evening's promotion, about how Aguilera was the goat after that home run. I still have my binder from that night, and it's currently holding my Twins baseball cards.

I think I ended up seeing at least 8 Twins game at the Dome before they moved out at the end of 2009. I still have all my ticket stubs (except that first one) for those games. Every time I have visited the Twin Cities in my adult life, I've tried to talk my friends into catching a game there. I felt that every time I was in town and we didn't see a game was a wasted trip. My friends Paul and Nikki didn't want to go when I was in the Cities in '04 (Joe Mauer's rookie year) to try out for Jeopardy! No one wanted to see them play the Yankees the day after those two got married in '05. So disappointing...

But my love for that place goes beyond my personal visits. It's about the greatest Twins player of my generation, Kirby Puckett. Game 6 in the '91 World Series? The man single-handedly wins the game staving off elimination and setting up the final chapter of the most historic World Series ever. I hated to see him go too, first into retirement with glaucoma in '96, then into the next life with a stroke in '06.

I could go on. The Baggy in right field. The Plexiglass in left. The turf. Pale Hoser manager Ozzie Guillen bitchin' about the turf and the Piranhas using it to their advantage. "Little Big League" and "Major League: Back to the Minors". The heir to the throne in center field, Torii Hunter, making amazing plays on a near-nightly basis, earning seven straight gold gloves in a Minnesota uniform. The roof messing with opposing outfields. Game 163.

I cannot wait to see a game at Target Field this summer, even if it does get rained out. Baseball is meant to be played outside. I've watched almost every game on TV so far this year, and it looks great. Nothing short of amazing. The house that Mauer will build will serve this team very well for the years and decades to come.

But I'll never forget my first love. The Metrodome holds a very special place in my heart. It will always be my Dome Sweet Dome...

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