Patrick Reusse: One last opener at this sorry dump

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2009 - 12:48 AM

Rather than issuing commemorative merchandise for the Twins' final season at the Metrodome, we should try to bury most memories of watching baseball at what's been a miserable facility.

There is an outfit called the Highland Mint that has produced a photo plaque for the Twins' final season in the Metrodome. According to a news release, this includes a panoramic photograph of the big blue room, actual dirt from the Metrodome infield, 1987 and 1991 World Series logos and a gold-plated commemorative coin.

Certainly, in these tough economic times, we wish the best to all entrepreneurial efforts, but candor insists that a lifelong Minnesotan admit there has never been a ballpark less worthy of being glorified than the Metrodome.

I've reached the conclusion the generation that has been robbed the most by big-league baseball being played in this plastic arena has been mine -- the Baby Boomers.

These should have been the best ball-watching years of our lives, with a few more bucks to buy "four good ones" and then spend a summer night making quips with family and friends.

What we've had, instead, for 27 seasons and one more to go, is an abomination that doesn't have a good seat for baseball in the entire cavern.

The highest-priced seats are too far above the action, and all the other seats in this dreadfully designed baseball stadium are pointed toward the middle of the football field.

The architectural geniuses behind the Dome also came up with this phenomenon:

If anyone other than those on the very edges of the endless rows has a need to get to the aisle, this individual can block the view of scores of people.

That's right -- with one bathroom call, a 110-pound female can wipe out more people than Randall McDaniel did in an entire football season.

You know what's most pathetic about this cheap, sorry excuse for a ballpark?

When it opened in 1982, the grounds crew was instructed to push the portable football stands up against the foundation for the second deck. This meant there were upside-down seats hanging behind the plastic barriers from the right field corner to straightway center.

You knew this had to be temporary -- that the Dome's keepers realized how tacky this background was for an alleged big-league facility.

Wrong.

The prideless landlords never covered the upside-down chairs, never did a thing to prevent the ESPN highlight viewers from exclaiming nightly, "What a joke that place is," as a home run banged off the vampire chairs.

On Friday night, the Yankees and the Mets opened new stadiums with exhibition games. The Yankees replicated the interior of the previous Yankee Stadium to the point you couldn't tell a difference on the telecast. And, the Mets made the wise decision to change everything in Citi Field, since Shea Stadium was a garbage heap.

Watching this led to another epiphany: What would the Twins want to bring with them from the Dome other than a pair of World Series trophies?

Nothing -- right, Dave St. Peter?

"Actually, we've had fans say they want a product similar to the Dome Dog in the new ballpark, so we're talking to Hormel about a similar hot dog with a different name," the Twins president said.

"Other than that, concessions, the physical plant ... well, we are going to have a 23-foot-high wall in right field, but this one won't be a Hefty bag. It's going to be a fence, with a slab of Kasota stone above it."

Kasota stone won the day as the prominent hard surface on the exterior of Target Field. This came as a crushing personal defeat, since I lobbied early and often with St. Peter for the Twins to bring back the multicolored brick facade of Met Stadium.

As Baby Boomers, we were raised on big-league baseball in an actual ballpark, and maybe that's why many of us so resent the artificial surroundings of the past 27 years.

Yes, the Thunderdome of '87 and Games 6 and 7 of '91 will never be diminished, but baseball is a marathon -- a game that captures the souls of its disciples on a daily basis with rollers in the grass, and gappers to a sandy track, and smoky odors from a concession area, and a skyline in the background.

There have been 2,170 regular-season games played in the Dome, with 81 more ahead in 2009, and then our Baby Boomer baseball nightmare will be over.

Hopefully, come April 2010, we will remain ambulatory and able to again watch the grand game in an actual ballpark.

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • preusse@startribune.com

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