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Observations from Opening Day

Posted by: Seth Stohs under On the road, Vikings Updated: April 13, 2010 - 12:14 AM

How was your Target Field Opening Day? What did you do? Did you go to the game? Did you play hookie from work or school to watch? I would love to hear your thoughts and observations on what will be a day that Twins fans will remember for years to come. To get things started, here are my observations:

My Monday morning started just like every other Monday morning. I didn't want to wake up, didn't want to open my eyes, just didn't want to do much of anything, but I finally gave in. What causes me to grudgingly roll out of bed? The reminder that Fox Sports North was beginning their live coverage bright and early. I wore a Twins pullover. I dressed my three year old daughter in her Francisco Liriano jersey and took her to daycare. Once I got to work, I tried really, really hard to focus throughout the morning, and I was actually quite successful. But my first observation of the day, as it relates to baseball, was that I needed to take in not only the game, but the pregame festivities. When asked, I said that the historical side of this game made it work taking a few hours off. So that's just what I did. I left work and went home. Here are more observations that I made, and again, I would love to read any others that you had from the day, especially if you were there in person:

  • Observation 1b.) Why didn't I think to get tickets in some way? It would have been an incredible experience to be at Target Field and on Target Plaza throughout the day.
  • Observation 1c.) Even sitting at home on a couch, watching on TV, it was definitely worth taking the afternoon off of work.
  • I could watch Batting Practice all day! The Twins batting practice was on TV, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed it though. Even at Metrodome, if I was going to a game, I wanted to get there as soon as the gates opened to be able to watch how players went about their business, what they were trying to accomplish, and if or how they were trying to overcome their struggles.
  • $545 million can buy a lot of great stuff. As you know, I have been to Target Field three times and absolutely love it. I completely agree with the comment that you will be able to go there for a year and almost always come away having seen something that you hadn't noticed before. The design team deserves a ton of credit for all the nooks and crannies, the views from around the stadium, and all that went into making it the nicest stadium in baseball.
  • The other thing that they did was highlighted an incredible amount of Twins history. It goes beyond the Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew statues. It goes beyond the Gates being named after (and today opened by) the greats of the team's history. The legends club level would be great for every Twins fan to see. Pictures highlight all of the Twins greats. It was evident again on Opening Day. Hrbek, Oliva, Carew and Killebrew presented first pitch baseballs. Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola, Jack Morris, Eddie Guardado, Shannon Stewart, Corey Koskie, Brad Radke and Al Newman were all on hand to raise flags from playoff teams. 
  • Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and Twin Cities native Larry Fitzgerald tweeted shortly before game time that he had just arrived at the stadium. Am I the only one who thought it would have been kind of neat for him to catch a first pitch?
  • FS North has been touting this GB Leighton Twins Territory for the last month. I have this much to say about the song... it is light years better than that song Prince wrote for the Vikings. That doesn't mean it was good.
  • Roy Smalley's hair. I just don't understand it. It's understandable when it is all over the place on a windy day outdoors, but when he is in studio, I just can't help but wonder if that's what he intends. On Monday, it was another fun Smalley hair day.
  • We learned that three of the umpires in town for this series are Minnesota natives, led by Tim Tschida. My first thought was that it didn't quite seem right. But the more I thought about it, those guys all have very high integrity and have been major league umpires for a long time. Once you think of it that way, it has to be a tremendous honor for them.
  • I always think that player introductions are fun. Seeing all the players tip their hats to the crowd is neat to me. Of course, the Red Sox didn't tip their caps. In fact, a couple of their players didn't even move. That was kind of annoying.
  • On the flip side, Minnesota native and Twins reliever Pat Neshek waived to the crowd. I'm certain that the game meant a lot to him as well, that Joe Mauer was not the only Minnesota native that being in that game meant a lot to.
  • How nice was it to see Joe Nathan introduced before the game. It seemed as though he got as loud an ovation as anyone. He clearly appreciated it. When seen later in the game, he had put the brace back on his surgically repaired elbow.
  • I knew it was going to happen, but Scott Ullger getting booed in the pre-game was pretty unfortunate.
  • The four Minnesota groups that sang the National Anthem were incredible. Arguably the most amazing thing about the day was that as they were finishing the song's final note, the F16s that flew down from Duluth flew over the stadium. Again, it happens at other sporting events, but as many times as we have seen that, it was impressive.
  • By the way, how do they make the flags that basically cover the whole outfield??
  • The early inning telecast could be defined by 'firsts.' Everything that happened was highlights as the first of Target Field. The first pitch was thrown by Carl Pavano. It was a ball. It was thrown out. The first hit was by the first batter, Marco Scutaro. It was followed by the first strange play at Target Field, Scutaro getting picked off. Denard Span had the first walk. Orlando Hudson had the first hit. Michael Cuddyer had the first RBI. David Ortiz was the first to strikeout.  The first pork chop on a stick. The first beer sold. It almost got to be too much!
  • By the way, the first broken belt was the belt of Nick Punto, who dove headfirst into second base only to realize that his belt came apart. I should specifically say that it was the first belt broken on the field. With all of the great food and drink around Target Field, it is possible that a belt of three may have already broken in the stands. (On a side Punto note, his defense has been incredible at 3B so far this season. Over the past two or three games, he has made no fewer than three plays that Brendan Harris would not have made.)
  • Jason Kubel made a lot of people, including Yours Truly, look smart when he hit the first home run in Target Field history. Many thought Mauer, Morneau or Cuddyer. There was even a late push for Punto hitting the first long ball. but in the end, it was Jason Kubel, who went 3-4 on the day, by the way.
  • A 13 year old kid caught the first home run ball and got some time on TV to talk about it. The big question became, how did the negotiations with the Twins go? Obviously the Twins really wanted that ball, so what was their initial offer? Maybe some tickets to a game? Here is a question for you. If you had caught that first HR ball, what would you have requested in return? I'm thinking I would start by asking for a bat signed by Span, Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel and Young, along with a baseball signed by Kubel himself, and tickets for six to two games, preferably a Friday night/Saturday afternoon combination. Too much?
  • Carl Pavano got the honor of making the start to open up Target Field. What did he show? He absolutely has ice in his vein. In fact, it visually looks like his calm borders on lethargy. Whatever it is, it has worked so far. He is throwing strikes and getting outs. He is eating innings. Is it possible that he has a little something left after missing all those years in  New York?
  • Delmon Young just looks completely different this year. The 30 pound weight loss is really just part of the story, although a big part because it shows that he had a sustained commitment to getting better. Sure, he'll still swing at some bad pitches or at the first pitch too much, and he's not the most nimble of outfielders. But there is something different this year. The smile is there. When his name was introduced, he had a huge smile. He looks like he's just having some fun, and that is very exciting. By the way, had he caught the ball on the warning track that David Ortiz hit, it would have been one of the best catches ever!
  • Speaking of really good baseball players, I think it is fair to say that Joe Mauer fits into that category. Again today, he had three hits. The first was a double to left field. The last was a double to right field. The second hit was an RBI infield single that snuck past the pitcher and hit second base, altering its course so Scutaro couldn't make a play. My first thought... those are the types of hits that help a guy hit .400!
  • Finally, this Twins team is pretty strong. They are now 6-2 through eight games. With four games against the Angels on the road and three games in Chicago against the White Sox, the schedule has not been easy. This Red Sox team should also be solid in the AL East. Over the course of 162 games, it will be hard to maintain the level of play the team has played at, and there will be a couple of rough patches, but it is also possible that this time might be even better than many thought.
  • After starting the season with four games that started at 9:00 in the central time zone, afternoon games seem so early! That's not a bad thing. What I'm really uncertain about is what I am going to do on Tuesday, the Twins first off day of the year?!

Finally, condolences to John Gordon and his family on the loss of his 95-year old mother. Somehow Gordon was still able to call the game today. 

What are your observations from Target Field's Opener? I would love to hear any an all thoughts whether you watched from home, listened on the radio or were at the game.

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Here are some more TwinsCentric stories, articles and activities for you to peruse:

  • Parker reviewed the Sunday afternoon play when JJ Hardy was easily thrown out at home.
  • Twins rookie relief pitcher Alex Burnett joined Seth on Sunday night's SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. The two discussed how he found out he was heading to the big leagues, and heading to his home as a big leaguer. They discussed his big league debut and goals for the 2010 season.  
  • Seth will be a guest of Paul Allen on KFAN  and KFAN.com at 9:20 on Tuesday morning.
  • At 10:00 on Tuesday night, Seth and Travis Aune will be hosting Twins Minor League Weekly, a new podcast dedicated to the Twins minor league system.
  • Seth continued his preview of the Twins minor league affilates by reviewing the Ft. Myers Miracle.
  • If you are able to go to a Twins game and plan on buying some reading material, check out the 2010 Minnesota Twins Yearbook as the TwinsCentric guys whote some of the content.
  • And you can follow TwinsCentric on Twitter. Click on the name and follow TwinsCentric, John, Nick, Parker and Seth.

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