dozierI took my nephew to the Tyler, the Creator concert at First Avenue on Tuesday night. I’m a veteran of First Ave. shows, so when I see “doors at 6, show at 7:30″ as I did last night, I assume it will last until about 10.

Thing is, I’m not so much a veteran of First Avenue rap concerts, having only seen a few there — most memorably Wu-Tang Clan several years back — so it turns out I was wrong about the timing. The all-ages show ended promptly at 9, in plenty of time for the youngsters to scatter back to the suburbs.

So we got outside and it was still light out, and I looked at my 15-year-old nephew and said, “Let’s head over to Target Field and see how the game is going.” It was 4-3 Marlins in the 7th, we learned after a very short walk, and so we scored a couple of $10 tickets (that’s the rate for standing room in the 7th inning on, as I learned last night) and headed in.

I can’t imagine doing this with any other sport. Maybe you can envision — without a ticket in hand — wandering over to Target Center at the start of the 4th quarter of a Wolves or Lynx game, or Xcel Energy Center at the start of the third period, or the National Sports Center in Blaine for the final 20 minutes of a United match, or even into the new Vikings stadium to catch the end of a game. But I cannot.

I can only imagine this scenario with a baseball game, and I think there is a certain beauty that we need to appreciate in that — a casualness, not to be confused with disinterest, that permeates baseball unlike any other major team sport.

Tuesday being a weeknight and the Twins being a 16-40 team at the time, a “standing room” ticket by the 8th inning meant essentially “sit anywhere you want” — another element of casualness in baseball. I’ve never tried to change seats at a football game. I’m constantly looking to upgrade my spot or change the angle at a baseball game.

Maybe I wouldn’t be writing so glowingly about the experience had the game finished up 4-3, but then again I was willing to accept that chance when I bought late-game tickets. Instead, of course, the Twins tied the score on a Robbie Grossman home run in the 8th and the game ended up going to the 11th (free baseball! Does anyone say “free hockey” or “free football” when there’s overtime?).

We ended up being there for well over an hour by the time Brian Dozier connected on a walk-off homer.

All the while, debates ensued as our group swelled to include friends who were also there. What’s the most hits Ichiro — now with the Marlins — had in a single MLB season? (I won a bet, nailing 262 on the nose). How many stolen bases did Rickey Henderson finish his career with? (1,406!) Should the Marlins really be pitching to Dozier, even if he’s been in a funk since last year’s All-Star game, with the relatively inexperienced Byung Ho Park on deck? (Turns out, with a runner on second and two outs, walking him would have been prudent).

Football is for constant strategy and Monday morning quarterbacking. Basketball and hockey demand your constant attention. Baseball … is casual.

I can appreciate all those things, but casual sure was nice last night.

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