Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

Section 219: Disenchantment of the Twins fan base

Posted by: Howard Sinker under Farm System, Target Field, Twins management, Roster moves Updated: September 13, 2012 - 9:08 AM

This is what the outfield seats at Target Field looked like a couple of innings into Wednesday's night miserable  baseball game:

 

 

Now, let's give the Twins the benefit of the doubt. It drizzled all day, clearing up and turning into a fairly nice night an hour or so before game time. And school's in session and the Royals are in town and ... blah, blah, blah.

Friends, this isn't working. If you wanted to go on StubHub and buy tickets at the last minute Wednesday, you could find a batch of tickets for $.01. Yes, that's a penny (plus a 10 percent surcharge -- $.001? -- and the $5.45 download fee..) At around 4 p.m., there were four tickets in the Legends Club listed for $5 each. Yes, that's five as in one-two-three-four-FIVE.) There were 2,500 or so unsold tickets on the 'Hub, all of which counted as part of the "attendance" of 28,139. Basically, you could have taken advantage of the one-cent sale and sat pretty much where you wanted, as long as you looked like you belonged.

In our row of 20, it was me 'n' Julie and the delightful couple who have the seats next to use and a party of four further down the row of 20. By comparison, we were packed in. By the seventh inning, the front three rows next to us in Section 220 were empty. Totally empty. We counted nine people in the no-alcohol Section 311 early in the game and figured that one fell off the wagon when we counted only eight a couple of innings later.

Here's the problem for the Twins: Attendance figures are being padded significantly by tickets already sold for 2012.

How will they sell those tickets for 2013?

My friends, who have varying degrees of baseball intensity, weighed in when they saw the above photo posted on my Facebook page:

A sampling:

"Holy Cow, that is bleak."

"Wow, that's sparse."

"Glad to see the new stadium was worth the investment."

"Seems like only yesterday I was hearing how a new stadium would allow the Twins to 'stay competitive.' What they didn't add was 'with the Indians.' "

And here's the best-face scenario from a season-ticket holder friend:

"Only difference, and it's a big one, the Metropolitan Club is a nice place to hang out when the game is too frustrating. I hate to admit it, but tonight I was one of THOSE people who watched very little of the game but had a great night at the ballpark chatting with friends. So wrong. But so fun. I'm sorry Grandpa. I'm sure he's rolling in his grave!"

One other fan-experience observation: Last year, we wanted to go out to dinner before the game at the Town Ball Tavern, the nice bar/restaurant in the left-field corner. We knew we pretty much needed to be there when the gates opened in order to get seated, even though it was a weekday night and not a particularly high-interest game. Last night, we did the same thing, getting to the restaurant about an hour before game time and having a number of tables to choose from.

I'm not talking baseball right now. If you want to watch Ryan Doumit's three-error inning, go here and skip to the 1:20 mark. I'm talking about observations and soft data. The Twins appear to be doing a pretty good job of dispiriting their fans. 

Obviously, fans who just want to support a winning team are staying away. The more observant have spent another season wondering about the team's injury management, its pitching and defensive failures and much of anything that speaks to things getting better soon. The most intense have wondered about roster moves, recently focusing their nth degree analysis on why reliever Anthony Slama isn't being given another chance to see if his minor-league dominance can translate to the majors and why Chris Parmelee wasn't used in the outfield at Rochester, if that's where he has the best chance to play for the Twins. And we all marveled at the Nishioka thing a few weeks back.

When you can frustrate everyone from the advanced-statistics posse to the guy who asks which league has the designated hitter -- a question we heard last night -- it's a sign that the fan base is going, going ...

Putting my money where my blog is, I'll tell you that I'm involved with three sets of season tickets: My scorecard for 2013 has me keeping one, cutting back on another and bailing on the third. Am I alone?

Right now, I think the Twins can win back most of their fans by going boldly into 2013 with a makeover that could take many shapes. If they tarry and pretend that all is good enough at 1Twins Way, they run the risk of being just another pretty ballpark with plenty of good seats available.

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Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Chicago 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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