Twins-A’s Liveblog in Semi-Real Time

Jeff · October 3, 2006 at 8:38 am · Filed Under Game Threads, General baseball 

Minnesota is in the throes of a late-summer renaissance. The weather is 80 degrees and clear, the baseball team’s torrid play clinched a division title on the last day of the season, and even such luminaries as Jonah Keri are taking notices.

I’m here, too, haunting the sports bars, hippie co-ops and collective bookstores. And I have tickets for the whole series on the 100 level, down the third base line.

The litany of events that brought me, alone, to attend the American League division series between the Twins and Oakland is too tumultuous and bizarre to fully recount here. Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that this may be the only baseball experience I have that Jonah has not had: the pleasure of attending a game in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Go baggie!

Given my recent absence from the site – you would not believe the amount of work that goes into moving out of the country, let alone other, less-enticing legal hassles – and given that my faithful bag o’ technology contains all the requisite elements of a liveblog experience, it seems clear what the correct course of action is here.

Because, after all, what do readers of a Seattle Mariner blog crave more than real-time dispatches from down the 3rd base line of a division rival’s playoff game?

It’s 1,395 miles to Seattle. I have a camera, a laptop, an ass pocket full of whiskey and internet access through my cell phone. I’m going to be inside a dome, wearing a hat.

Hit it.


Despite having a bevy of Minnesotan pals, acquaintances and affectionate rivals, I’ve never really spent much time here. The place is great: lots of wilderness not too far from the cities, an excellent music scene and vibe that’s not too far removed from certain corners of the great Northwest.

In my friend’s neighborhood, there’s a yoga studio, place to get a hairweave and dreadlocks, and an amply stocked liquor store, plus the aforementioned watering holes, co-op groceries and lefty bookshops.

Plenty of oak and maple trees give the urban landscape a kind of Southeast Portland feel, so it’s safe to say this is my kind of place. Also, I finally get to see what Atmosphere is talking about as regards the 612.

Of course, I did offer to visit next February and got laughed out of the room. “You’re going to come from a tropical island … to Minnesota … in FEBRUARY?” Touche.

For your pre-game wagering enjoyment …

Over-under lines:
Beer prices (domestic): $5.50
Peanuts: $3
Wait to get into the game: 10 minutes

I am able to successfully sell my extra ticket (at face value!): 8:5
The bus downtown is late: 2:1
I get searched: 8:5
I get heckled for blogging during the game: 1:1
I make up an outrageous lie about my computer use (“I’m a scout for the Yankees. My name is David Cameron.”): No line
USS Mariner comes up in conversation without me bringing it up: 4:1

10:25 a.m.

“The dome will be packed,” my friend says. “This town goes nuts for the Twins!”

This may be true. But so far, I’ve seen one “Congrats, Twins” banner, a few “Go Twins” scrolling banners on buses, and a host of empty streets. Granted, it’s early, but it’s not that early, and you can still park within 4 blocks of the yard for four bucks.

I’m sure the yard will be full, but it’s not looking good for recovering face value.

Scalping adventures: I get one bite from a Craigslist hail, and that guy says “Yeah, I already have another offer for a ticket that’s better.” (My seats are 100 level, down the 3rd base line.)

10:31 a.m.

Scalping adventures, part 2: I see not one – not one – other person selling tickets. I overhear one other guy saying “I’d be happy if I could just get face value for it.”

Because we’re still 90 minutes from gametime, I follow him to see if he knows a secret scalping zone. But no, he just goes inside.

I take the opportunity to circumnavigate the Metrodome. It’s a utilitarian monstrosity, all concrete, very spartan. Not much to see, and the atmosphere is subdued. It’s a day game, sure, but an average game at Safeco Field is rowdier this far before game time.

I pick up my tickets at Will Call. There is one person in line in front of me.

I walk around the metrodome again, checking out every gate. There is no waiting at any gate. I repeat: there is not a line at any gate. On the one hand, woo-hoo! On the other hand, I’m a little surprised, and it’s not looking good for getting rid of that extra stub.

At about 10:38, I hear the PA announcer declare that there are still a limited about of tickets available. Given this fact – and the fact that I can now place my bag o’ tech in the seat next to me, minimizing the risk of ridicule – I decide to just head inside.


The streets are alive … with the sound of not much

Imagine seeing this sign near Safeco Field on game day? Hot damn.

Got the tickets!

The view from my seat, circa 10:30


Random notes from the stands:

It’s safe to say Joe Mauer is pretty popular here. Fully two-thirds of the replica jerseys have his name on the back: we’re talking men, women, the young, the old, one lady in a Muslim head covering, one guy in a yarmulke. No, really.

Santana’s next, Morneau is a distant third, and no one else is close.

Strangest T-Shirt slogan: “Smell ‘Em.” It features the silhouette of a Twins player, with the slogan in big block type below.

I have no idea what this means. “My team stinks”? “My team’s testosterone content = dramatic increases in body odor, but victories”?

Second-strangest shirt: “Welcome to Hibbing, where you don’t get divorced, you just lose your turn.” Huh? Local humor I don’t get, I guess.

We’ve all seen the jug of milk out in right field on television. But it’s kind of like knowing your family is going to appear on daytime TV, and then actually seeing it. Nothing prepares you for the actual in-person experience.

Milk it, Twinkies!

Twins commentator Bert Blyleven, on TV broadcasts, circles people in the stands with his telestrator style pen. There’s a kid right behind me with an elaborate “Circle Me, Bert!” sign. I have a Sharpie and am strongly considering writing “Curse on the Air Again, Bert!” if the kid goes to the bathroom.

Betting line results:

It’s always safe to take the “over” on ballpark food prices. Peanuts are four bucks and beers are six. The bus downtown was on time and the wait to get into the game was way, way, under, although I did get searched, of course.

No heckling (yet), no USSM references (yet) unless you count instant messages (I don’t).


Huge standing ovation for Santana as he jogs out on to the field.


I gotta give these fans credit: it’s only about 80 percent full, but they got so loud during the introductions, you literally could not hear the PA announcer.

There are three guys sitting behind me who have, by their own admission, have been drinking in the parking lot for hours beforehand. Verbatim quote:

“There’s just a little green in the stands (A’s colors) … but there’s some douchebag in full Yankees gear down there.”

Pre-game, there’s a home-run hitting contest featuring mascots. If Derek were here, he’d be booing. The contest includes TC, “the home-run-hittinest bear in the North Woods.”

Guy behind me: “If you can hit a ball with that suit on … that’s huuuuuuuge!”

First pitch: 6 minutes.


Sign of the day.


The Twins have to work on their musical selection. The guy who did two songs before the game, including the anthem, was someone named Rockie Lynne – a male country singer with a female stripper’s name.

The song that kicked off the game was Van Hagar’s “Right Now,” a pretty lame song when it was fresh. C’mon, throw me a bone here, Minnesota – rock some Husker Du or Replacements. “New Day Rising” anyone?

Oh yeah, the game: Santana seemed to be flat dealing in the first inning, and the roof comes off with virtually every strike he throws. He’s a lot sharper than Zito. And I know that the scrappy Twins play smallball and all that, but getting Castillo thrown out stealing while Barry was struggling to find the zone was a positively Hargrovian move.

It’s also nice to see the Homer Hankies out. I love those damn things, and I’m waiting for a Twinkie dinger to take a good shot of them …

… but speaking of dingers, Thomas’ home run nearly hit the top of the dome. It was just a muscle shot that was higher than it was deep. The faithful were hoping it’d go foul, but instead, it landed about 25 yards in front of me.


If you would have told me that one of these lefties would have faced the minimum through three, and the other would have given up a couple of runs while struggling from a high pitch count, I would’ve been pretty confident in my prediction about who was who. Santana still looks sharp, but Zito’s found his form, and the curve is positively nasty today.

On another note, I hate between-inning “entertainment” under the best of circumstances, but here, where the scoreboard is tiny and the choice of video as cheesy as neighboring Wisconsin, it’s particularly perturbing. Example: not only do we have the irritating “fan cam,” we have a variant on it where the fan’s head is distorted so the crown of the head sweels and the rest shrinks – sort of like the martians in Mars Attacks.

It’s almost enough to make one long for the Hydro Race. Almost.

We’re through three, and here comes Thomas again … and holy crap, that ball was hit to nearly the same spot. Gulp.

… Santana retires him, and the Twins faithful (who were shellshocked two innings ago) are loud again. They still believe.

1:05 p.m.

I just discovered that I can connect to the Star-Tribune’s wireless router. They’re across the street from the dome. Thanks, Star-Trib!

Also, the Twins just played “Hey Ya” over the PA. Improvement.


Zito’s command’s been off – he’s at a 1:1 ball-strike ratio – but he’s made pitches when he’s needed to. Morneau’s drive to center was the first hard-hit ball for the Twins all day.

We just had the first successful example of the reverse jinx I’ve seen in some time. The crowd was officially starting to get restless, and one of the guys behind me dropped the “no-hitter” reference … and it worked. A sigh of relief throughout the stadium.

The “hey, were not getting no-hit” relaxation effect didn’t last very long. You can tell people are getting nervous.


Man, this game is going fast.

Tons of security precautions here, too. There are 11 security guards on the field between innings — and those are just the ones you can see.

It’s probably because I told ’em DMZ was coming.


Top of the seventh inning notes: wow, Jason Bartlett would’ve been wearing the goat horns if they hadn’t gotten out of that inning unscathed. Also: if Torii Hunter had thrown the ball to third on that line drive to center, he would have had a solid chance to get Frank Thomas — whether he was going to home or not. The guy just can’t move any more.

The seventh inning stretch featured Bert Blyleven singing a valium-inspired “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” where the crowd was a good two seconds ahead of Blyleven on the verses. They also don’t change the words here to “Root, root for the Twinkies,” or anything.

Finally, the fans got what they were looking for with the Rondell White homer. They flat-out asploded, chanted his name, and gave him a standing ovation when he returned to the field. Seriously, these people are into it.

And out come the hankies!

Inspiring song post-homer: “Livin’ on a Prayer.” (?!?)


Pre-8th inning inspirational song: “I Melt With You.” Not to dwell, but …


RE: “I Melt With You”: I guess you can’t argue with results. (Bartlett’s double)


Okay, I retreat to my original position on “I Melt With You,” although the Nouvelle Vague cover is pretty awesome.

Man, that last inning may have been the Twins’ best shot: leadoff man on second, top of the order coming up (although the top of the order does include Luis Castillo and Nick Punto, so …), and nothing.

It looks like Huston Street will come in to pitch the ninth since Cuddyer leads off, though, and that might provide some extra hope. Justin Morneau has one more at bat, and Zito’s been solid shutting down Minnesota’s lefty sluggers.

I’m hoping walk to Cuddyer, bomb by Morneau, and that would … tie the game, now that Frank Thomas has just homered again.

This crowd is all over Jesse Crain like DMZ on an Anchor Steam.


The murmurs have started in earnest. The smell of fear is on them. The exit doors will start swinging if Cuddyer doesn’t get on base, I surmise.

For the first time tonight, you could hear me across the stadium if I shouted.

Aaaaaaaand that’s a wrap. Fickle Finger of Fate Department: Cuddyer hits a routine fly ball that drops for a triple when Milton Bradley loses it in the ceiling. Then, Morneau — who hit three balls hard today — absolutely tattoos a line drive, but right at Bradley. 15 feet either way, that’s an RBI double.

Still, a great, well-played game with two good pitching performances. Tomorrow is Esteban Loaiza versus Boof Bonser, so that might be … different.

I had fun, and I hope you did, too. The lines getting out look to be much longer than the lines to get in. But I have just enough battery life to finish this off and head back to spacious USS Mariner Labs and prepare for tomorrow.


141 Responses to “Twins-A’s Liveblog in Semi-Real Time”

  1. DMZ on October 3rd, 2006 11:59 am

    He’s implying that it’s much more difficult for an infielder to turn the force out which is true.

    No, he said “the reason you don’t want to go to 3-2 is that with the runners in motion it *removes* the force, so the fielder has to field the ball cleanly…”

    That’s not an implication that it’s harder.

  2. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 11:59 am

    Rizzs and Miller are basically the same type of announcer with the exception that Miller is funny, knows something about the game, and is pleasant to listen to.

  3. DMZ on October 3rd, 2006 12:01 pm

    Jon Miller’s a great play by play man. I love him.

  4. DMZ on October 3rd, 2006 12:02 pm

    BTW, if that fan had reached over and messed up that catch, the rest of the crowd would have been entirely justified in tearing him into tiny shreds

  5. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 12:04 pm

    Is Nick Punto the WFB of the Twins? Scrappy!

  6. Emerald on October 3rd, 2006 12:06 pm

    Almost had a new Bartman… well maybe not so vilified

  7. DMZ on October 3rd, 2006 12:08 pm

    What a great swing to pull that inside pitch. Wow.

  8. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 12:09 pm

    Miller broadcast one season in Boston in 1981. While the baseball strike was going on, he played out Strat-O-Matic games which were broadcast by the Red Sox. I would tune in just to hear him. It is odd now to think that I would tune in to listen to a Strat-O-Matic game, but he was THAT good!

  9. joser on October 3rd, 2006 12:11 pm

    Rondell White is carrying this team, isn’t he? Well, more like staggering along beneath it while little Zito birds fly around their stunned collective heads, but still — would you have picked him out of the lineup to be pretty much the Twinkies entire offense?

  10. Bryan on October 3rd, 2006 12:13 pm

    How very Mariners-esque of the Twinks to get a leadoff double and do nothing but piss away the opportunity.

  11. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 12:17 pm

    Lifetime stats:

    Punto..261/324/344 Born 11/8/77
    WFB….257/312/329 Born 11/27/77

    Punto got over 500 PAs this season playing 5 different positions.

  12. Dan W on October 3rd, 2006 12:23 pm

    Zito or Street in the 9th?

  13. Jeff on October 3rd, 2006 12:25 pm

    Street has been warming up the entire 8th inning. I’m sure they’re bringing him in to face Cuddyer.

  14. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 12:27 pm

    If it was me, Street. Morneau’s L/R splits don’t make that much of a difference. But I think they will leave Zito in.

  15. Dan W on October 3rd, 2006 12:27 pm

    Zito’s looked great today, Street not so much lately. Not sure I would do that.

  16. dw on October 3rd, 2006 12:28 pm

    Jon Miller is great. I wish they’d pair him with a ballplayer who isn’t the arrogant stuck-button prick Joe Morgan is.

    When I’ve heard him on-air, Hershiser hasn’t been too bad.

  17. Mere Tantalisers on October 3rd, 2006 12:29 pm

    Who would you rather see blow this game, Street or Zito? (moot point, I know, but nevertheless)

  18. dw on October 3rd, 2006 12:29 pm

    I think you bring in Street knowing that you might need Zito later this week. Of course, the opposite is true as well. So, maybe you bring in Kiko Calero and blow the series right here.

  19. Emerald on October 3rd, 2006 12:30 pm

    Zito so everyone stops talking about how frickin’ great he is.

  20. Mere Tantalisers on October 3rd, 2006 12:31 pm

    its close, innit? I would say street, for the same reason. Zito not getting the W would be enough for me.

  21. Jack Howland on October 3rd, 2006 12:35 pm

    Who kidnapped Frank Thomas and replaced him with that smiling charming guy?

  22. joser on October 3rd, 2006 12:36 pm

    Frank Thomas: $500,000 guaranteed salary this year plus $2.5 million in incentives… most of which I expect he’s earned (well, I doubt he gets the $50K for a golden glove). And he’s a free agent. That should be interesting.

  23. Dan W on October 3rd, 2006 12:36 pm

    Macha’s a genious

  24. Mere Tantalisers on October 3rd, 2006 12:39 pm

    Is that a backhanded insult, somehow?

  25. Dan W on October 3rd, 2006 12:39 pm

    OK, that was great. Thanks Jeff.

    Now, which USSM author will be at Yankee Stadium later?

  26. dw on October 3rd, 2006 12:40 pm

    I think it’s great that Frank Thomas is finally reminding people why he was the greatest right-handed hitter of the 1990s (sorry Edgar).

    In my case, I think part of it is that all the other program managers I know, when they’re asked if they know anyone good who’s looking, are saying “yeah, my pal DMZ…”

    Of course, you could be working in the public sector, where you have people openly coveting you but not having the money to lure you away.

    Welcome to my life. I think it’s time to leave the educational realm. Of course, private sector jobs like mine were shipped to Bangalore or handed to $11/hr wet-behind-the-ears BFA grads years ago….

  27. Dan W on October 3rd, 2006 12:40 pm

    Nah – he picked his closer, I picked the starter. They won, so he made the right decision. That makes him really smart.

  28. PositivePaul on October 3rd, 2006 12:40 pm

    Now, which USSM author will be at Yankee Stadium later?

    Um. That would be Mr. Dave Cameron. You know, the scout for the Yankees.

  29. Grizz on October 3rd, 2006 12:42 pm

    Miller broadcast one season in Boston in 1981. While the baseball strike was going on, he played out Strat-O-Matic games which were broadcast by the Red Sox. I would tune in just to hear him. It is odd now to think that I would tune in to listen to a Strat-O-Matic game, but he was THAT good!

    To fill time on the sports segment during the 1981 strike, one of the local newscasts (KING 5, I think) would show “highlights” of made up M’s games, using drawings of crudely sketched stick figures of the M’s players to create the action. Of course, the “make believe” Mariners went undefeated, winning each game in extraordinary fashion. They even got Mike Parrott to give a fake interview (superimposing his real head over his stick figure body) following his no-hitter.

  30. Mere Tantalisers on October 3rd, 2006 12:44 pm

    127 – I wasn’t referring to the decision making. To clarify, let me quote H.J. Simpson, in song.
    “I am so smart
    I am so smart
    I am so smart.”

  31. shaunmc on October 3rd, 2006 12:45 pm

    The Padres/Cards game is my first experience watching a Chris Berman broadcast in High Definition. My God, the machines we men have created are turning against us! This man’s bulbous, sweaty, combed-over head was never meant to be shown in HD.

  32. msb on October 3rd, 2006 12:52 pm

    #36–The Twins’ plate discipline reminds me of my home team.

    you got that right.

    #115– Is Nick Punto the WFB of the Twins? Scrappy!

    Nicky is better because he can pull unicorns out of his butt

    #122– Thomas & Beane both want him to re-sign with the A’s

  33. Jed C on October 3rd, 2006 12:56 pm

    #130 – The last line of the song goes:

    “I mean S-M-A-R-T”

    all while setting his wall on fire, of course.

  34. msb on October 3rd, 2006 12:57 pm

    To fill time on the sports segment during the 1981 strike, one of the local newscasts (KING 5, I think) would show “highlights” of made up M’s games, using drawings of crudely sketched stick figures of the M’s players to create the action.

    the Twins blogger Batgirl does fine Legovision reinactments.

  35. Emerald on October 3rd, 2006 1:20 pm

    I just scored a right field reserved seat for the Pads and Cards for next Monday…. *spills out with glee*

  36. davepaisley on October 3rd, 2006 1:26 pm

    Ah, Legovision…

  37. joser on October 3rd, 2006 6:02 pm

    … but speaking of dingers, Thomas’ home run nearly hit the top of the dome. It was just a muscle shot that was higher than it was deep. The faithful were hoping it’d go foul, but instead, it landed about 25 yards in front of me.

    Ok, I’m confused. If you were sitting here, how does a ball land 25 yards in front of you and not be caught? You don’t look to be sitting so far back from the plate that the left field baggies are just 25 yards away from you, but maybe I’m wrong.

  38. Jeff on October 3rd, 2006 6:38 pm

    I’m furhter back than the pic indicates. The fair pole was essentially parallel with me.

  39. Deanna on October 3rd, 2006 6:49 pm

    I can’t seem to post to USSM from work anymore, so I just wanted to chime in with the “Thanks, Jeff! That was entertaining!” that I tried to post several hours ago.

    It must have been nice to actually SEE the game. I think the A’s and Twins got to work this morning earlier than I did.

    I liked the Metrodome a lot when I was there, but my experience there also included watching friends get married on the field before a game, so that might have colored the experience a bit. I remember there being more Torii Hunter jerseys than anything else, but that was last fall before Joe Mauer took over the galaxy.

  40. NODO Dweller on October 3rd, 2006 9:59 pm

    Thanks for the post Jeff. Brings back memories – my first live MLB game was at the Metrodome circa 1986.

    FYI, the metrodome is a funny place. I had roughly your seats but in the back of the upper deck for that game. I recall one play where I literally saw a line drive caught in the infield *before* hearing the crack of the bat 🙂

  41. Jonah Keri on October 4th, 2006 9:05 am

    Kick ass Jeff, sounds great! Wish I could have been there…not for lack of trying.

    I’ll be plotting ways to sneak peeks at the TV and searching for you down the 3rd base line this afternoon. Have fun!

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