Souhan: In 2036, will baseball still be our national pastime?

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 11:47 PM

(Writer’s note: Baseball has changed dramatically since Minneapolis last hosted an All-Star Game. What might the future hold? Here’s a guess.)

The year is 2036. The space by Minneapolis’ mass transportation system in the North Loop — the human particle transporter — again stands adjacent to a new Twins ballpark.

After strong lobbying by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig — who agreed, with much reluctance, to sign another 20-year contract last year after threatening to retire for the 18th time — Minneapolis Mayor Mike Opat strong-armed the razing of Target Field and the building of a new ballpark.

Acting owner Joe Pohlad had threatened to contract the team, or to play “studio baseball,’’ if the Twins weren’t allowed to compete with the revenues of large-market teams like Cleveland, which became the center of the sports universe after LeBron James and Johnny Manziel won six championships apiece with the Cavaliers and Browns.

Opat again showed the Minneapolis City Council his Jack Bauer face, and they agreed to tax city residents at 30 percent to build what would become known as Fulton Park, after the world’s richest brewery easily won naming rights.

As a reward for completing construction, Selig awarded Minneapolis its fourth All-Star Game. Here’s the game story, as written by a computer chip embedded in MLB’s official game drone:

Baseball has been modernized over the years, but the North American team’s 5-4 victory over the World team on Tuesday night at Fulton Park offered touches of nostalgia for Minnesota baseball fans.

On a North American team dominated by Canadians, it was an American who got the game-winning hit. St. Paul Saints first baseman Steel Mientkiewicz drove in Byron Buxton with a two-out single in the ninth inning to score the winning run.

Mientkiewicz is the son of longtime Twins manager Doug Mientkiewicz. The player who started the winning rally in the ninth was the son of former Twin A.J. Pierzynski, now baseball’s dean of player discipline. Pierzynski, famous for his competitiveness, named his son “Steelier’’ to one-up his old friend Mientkiewicz.

The winning pitcher also had Minnesota connections. Toriiii Hunter, the youngest son of former Twin Torii Hunter, earned the victory with an inning of scoreless relief.

Since a rash of elbow injuries led to the scrapping of “starting pitchers,’’ Hunter has become a leader in the all-important QI statistic. As pitchers are no longer required to work more than one inning a day or four innings a week, Hunter has this season recorded 42 Quality Innings, requiring at least three outs and no more than one base­runner allowed.

Hunter, interviewed during the game on the bench while wearing his NIERU (Non-Invasive Elbow Repair Unit), said, “I thought the home-plate robot called a fair strike zone.’’

There was one controversial moment in the game. In the first inning, with Mike Trout Jr. on third base and Mike Trout Sr.,on first for the North American team, Buxton hit a slow roller to World third baseman Miguel Sano, who threw home.

Trout Jr., was initially ruled out. The sensors in his uniform indicated that the tag by Next Molina hit him before he activated the home-plate indicator, but the IRP (Instananeous Review Process) conducted by the home-plate Google computer overruled the sensors, and Trout Jr. was ruled safe.

The World team’s four-run rally in the fifth inning was a testament to the global growth of the game, as players from Argentina, Ghana, Russia, the Dominican Republic and France reached base.

In the end, the game provided a fitting farewell for the two Minnesota Twins stars who have announced their retirements effective at the end of the season and thus were appearing in their last All-Star Game.

Sano hit one of his vintage tape-measure home runs in the fifth. This one was measured at 457.238 feet, and bounced off a beer-delivery drone in the fourth deck of the left field stands.

Buxton went 3-for-4 with two doubles. As the constantly updated statistical graphic displayed on his uniform front reminded viewers, it was the eighth All-Star Game in which Buxton had recorded multiple hits.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 7 1st Half 9:00
UC Santa Barbara 15
Baylor 29 2nd Half
Memphis 32
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

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