St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, Fox TV reporter Erin Andrews and other apologists attempted to blame “social media’’ for the mess in which pitcher Adam Wainwright found himself at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.
Wainwright was the National League starter and opened the bottom of the first by allowing a double to Derek Jeter. He gave up three runs in his one inning, and then told reporters outside the clubhouse that his plan was to give Jeter a couple of “pipe shots’’ in that at-bat.
Reporters listening to Wainwright in this in-game interview were quick to send along the “pipe shots’’ comment on Twitter. That doesn’t make it a controversy started by social media. This brouhaha was fueled by Wainwright, and Twitter served one of its purposes in allowing reporters to relay it to the public immediately.
Social media is not guilty on this one.
What was discovered during the three days of All-Star Game festivities at Target Field was that some of us might have placed too much stock in reactions on social media in assessing where baseball and the Twins stand with Minnesota’s sporting public at the moment.
I put the comments we see from agitated folks on newspaper websites and blogs in the social media category, along with king Twitter and other public forums. And the level of Twins bashing in these areas has been so persistent for four years that it’s easy to get the impression all of Minnesota has turned hostile to the Twins and given up on the Grand Old Game.
It was certain there would be full houses for Monday’s Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s game, what with Major League Baseball taking 13,000 of the 40,000 available tickets. MLB left that pile of tickets for the Twins to sell for Sunday’s Futures Game and softball skit.
To me, the size of Sunday’s crowd was going to be the key to finding out if there were still enough baseball fans around here to create a mid-July baseball fever.
“The people kept coming all day,’’ a Twins ticket manager said that night. “We had a huge walk-up.’’
In the end, 34,000 people actually went through the gates, larger than most Futures/softball crowds in other host cities of recent times.
On Monday, the weather was awful, but the ballyard was full for the Home Run Derby. People did leave early, but once you’ve seen Giancarlo Stanton blast one that almost left the building in left field and you’re freezing, why stay?
Then came the game. One word: glorious.
I’ve never felt better about admitting that baseball has been and will continue to be my sport of sports than was the case while taking in Tuesday night’s scene at Target Field.
The quality of the athletes on display was stunning. Right away, Jeter makes a diving stop on a hot shot from Andrew McCutchen, and McCutchen turns into a blur and beats Jeter’s throw by two millimeters at first.
And then, in the bottom of the first, between Jeter’s double (gift or no gift) and Miguel Cabrera’s line-drive home run just above the flowers in left, there was muscular Mike Trout getting the ball past muscular Yasiel Puig in right field, and within three steps Trout was Adrian Peterson in the open field.
In fact, make it a 90-yard race with two left turns, and I’ll take Trout by a stride over our guy All Day.
Trout thundered to third as the crowd in Target Field let out a roar that came with an element of shock — that a young man this thick could be moving so fast. For those few seconds, Trout was the legendary “runaway train’’ of a million sportswriters’ articles.
When Trout arrived at third, there had been six batters in the 85th All-Star Game, and already there were more grand moments than in the full playing of the 56th in the Metrodome in July 1985.
Yes, Dome, ye served us well in winning a couple of World Series, but watching baseball’s best against this backdrop, against Minneapolis’ dusky skyline … it made me smile.
You know what Target Field, our magnificent ball yard, does to a senior citizen on a night like this one, Minnesota? It makes him wish he were 25 years younger.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org