RandBall: The Twins and the purity of batting practice

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • April 10, 2013 - 10:00 AM


As we have said many times before, there are few things Minnesotans hate more than feeling like something is a bad financial deal. Whether it's paying $800,000 to get out of a pair of football games or disbelief that a hamburger could be $12, this is the case. Cheap isn't quite the right word. Thrifty? Cautious with money? Value-driven? Maybe those are more appropriate, albeit softer descriptors, for Minnesotans.


That said, we would say that more of the outrage over the Twins' short-lived idea to charge $15 for a limited number of already-ticketed fans to get into games early to watch the home team take BP -- created on Tuesday, died on Tuesday, RIP -- was driven less by the price tag and more by the concept that even something like batting practice can be bought and sold.

When searching pro sports for pure moments, they are becoming harder to find and less frequent. Gone, for the most part, are the days of watching a game through a knothole or waiting by the team bus for an autograph. Sports are big business now. Athletes are celebrities. So it goes.

But batting practice has remained, by and large, an untainted spectacle for the purists. Arrive when gates open and you can see, at the very least, the visiting team taking hacks. If you have ever studied an opponent's roster to determine whether home runs are more likely to go to left or right field -- and positioned yourself accordingly in the outfield in hopes of getting a souvenir -- you know what we are talking about. At a regular game, there is a pretty small audience for the BP ritual. But even now, at least a couple times a year, we like to get out and see it in hopes that we will get that first, elusive, baseball.

Would we have $15 to spend for some special access? Sure. Some people wouldn't, but most people who attend Twins games would. But if you have to pay for the access, it loses its mystique. If you are one of a handful of fans there when Josh Willingham crushes a 65 mph pitch into the seats, and it happens to roll your way, does the souvenir mean more if it was obtained by happenstance and diligence or by paid special access?

The former, we say.

Said Twins President Dave St. Peter when we spoke with him yesterday after the promotion -- which he said was prematurely released and was never intended to go out to the public -- was called off: "We’re looking at ways to add more access to batting practice, but I’m not sure charging incrementally is the way to go about that. ... Our focus going forward is to provide greater fan access to BP. Whether there will be charges added to that, I don’t know. But I’ve long believed BP is one of those things we undersell as an industry.”

We would agree with that, as long as "undersell" pertains to the spectacle of BP and not the commodification of it.

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