Five Good and Bad Sideshows At Target Field

Since the Twins aren’t much to watch on the field these days, the sideshows start to take on more significance.  Target Field itself remains a draw.  Witness the fact that we still feel compelled to post Facebook photos of ourselves making the scene at games.    But beyond the overall venue are the sideshows, both the good and the bad:

The Bad

Mascot Race.  For some reason, almost all pro sports teams feel compelled to feature some sort of cartoon figure race.  Whatever charm they once initially had is long gone.  While Target Field’s mascot race is slightly better than Metrodome’s cartoon tire races, it is still very, very lame.  And does anyone else think it’s just a little crooked that Target’s corporate mascot has won more races at Target Field than Babe the Oxe, Squita,  and the others?  The corporate fix is obviously in.  Are you seriously telling me a mosquito can’t move faster than a bull terrier?

Every Day is Veteran’s Day.  Before I get hammered for this, please know that I’m extremely thankful for people who serve in the military, especially when they serve in places and ways the politicians should never have authorized.  Overall, we don’t thank them enough.  Still, the cynic in me wonders if the fact that pro sports corporations honor veterans every single game has something to do with “patriotic by association” brand building.  I hope I’m wrong, but that suspicion eats at me. I’ve worked in PR and marketing long enough to know that such crassness is a distinct possibility.  Yes, honor veterans on Memorial Day, July 4th and other special days.  But when the honoring is done every single game, several times per game, it starts to feel forced, cheapened and self-serving.  I’m sure I’m the minority on this issue.  But there, I said it.

Interlude Music.  I’m very, very old, but even I find myself longing to hear music at the game from the current decade.  Not only am I sick to death of 70s and 80s classic rock staleness, but the songs themselves just don’t fit the Minnesota venue.  “Just a city boy, growing up in South Detroit…”  Hello, can you say “hated division rival?”

The Wave. From a very young age, my kids learned that if they participate in The Wave, it will make them ineligible for 7th inning ice cream, and they will be suspended from attendance to the next game.  Sometimes parenting requires tough love.  The Wave is never acceptable at a baseball game, but the worst is when it is done when the home team is getting hammered.   Serious fans do not participate in expressions of “Yay, we’re so euphoric about being 10 runs down that we’re going absolutely bananas here at Target Field!”

Applause Signs.  The electronic scoreboard prompts to “ make some noise” also brings out my grumpy.  Call me old school, but I feel like fans themselves should decide when they feel like cheering.  And if fans aren’t feeling it – perhaps because the home team is hitting .150 with runners in scoring position – electronic begging comes across as just plain pathetic.

The Good

Kiss Cam. Though I’m strongly opposed to public displays of affection, I confess I’m a complete sap for the Kiss Cam.  From the “awww”-inducing octageneraian pecks to the twenty something’s scandalous tonsil ticklers, that old Kiss Cam always makes me smile, in spite of myself.

Hecklers.  Thousandaires lighting into gazillionaires with a string of creative insults — “I’ve seen snakes with better arms!”  — also brings a smile to my sourpuss face.  I don’t heckle, because my momma brought me up right.  Plus, I genuinely feel like the guys are usually doing their best.  But the fact that the powerless can feel free to let loose on the powerful, without fear that they will be punished for it…  Aint that America?

Kid Preference.  When ball players flip a ball into the stands, it’s almost always to a young kid.  When an adult fan kills himself to haul in a foul ball, they often give it away it to a kid, often a kid they never met before.  This is us at our best.  Would that our  collective fiscal decisions were borne of such magnanimity.

Candid Sales Pitches.  I always bought from the beer vendor who called out “Beer here, fifty-one dollars per six pack,” until he mysteriously disappeared.  I also love “Free Root Beer!  $4.75 delivery.”  Thankfully, that guy is still on the job.  I appreciate candor in the face of thievery.  If only the banksters were that transparent and self-effacing.

Take Me Out To the Ball Game.  I never tire of it.  I always sing it, badly.  That quote “a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day at the office” must have been conceived during the sentimental singing of baseball’s national anthem.  “I don’t care if I never get back” indeed.  Bring us home, Buck:

– Loveland

Ice Whine

It starts roughly the day after Valentines Day – the upper midwest’s snow and ice whining season. This is the time of year when typically upbeat midwesterners complain bitterly and incessantly about, of all things, snow in the winter.

To outsiders, complaining about snow in February and March in the upper midwest might seem about as logical as complaining about sunsets at days end. Or Vikings collapses in January. After all, these are statistically inevitable occurrences. But still we whine.

Actually, we’re not always this unstable. There are distinct snow psyche seasons in the upper midwest. From mid-October to Thanksgiving is the Giddy Season. If it snows in the Giddy Season, we frolic. We also wrap our SUVs around telephone poles. After all, it’s been six whole months since we’ve driven in the stuff.

Continue reading “Ice Whine”

Minnesota Nice

Twins shaking handsWhen homeruns are hit, other teams’ fans get a little excitable. Truthfully, it can be a little embarassing for a modest Minnesotan to watch. Other teams’ fans high five and bump their painted man-chests together. They spill adult beverages on their neighbors. They taunt the opposing pitcher with naughty words and suggestions about uncomfortable places a baseball could be theoretically stored.

But not in Minnesota. In Minnesota, we will celebrate our homeruns with…a polite handshake.

That’s the word from the Minnesota Twins front office, who announced that a new lightly animated sign in Target Field will show the Twin Dudes from the original 1961 logo modestly exchanging a conventional handshake as our hometown heroes touch ’em all.

Photo from Minnposts' Braublog
Photo from Minnpost.com
Take that Bernie Brewer!

Actually, I like it. Just as legendary Vikings Coach Bud Grant instructed his players who score a touchdown to “act like you’ve been there before” and shun unseemly celebrations, our Twins will kill ’em with kindness, and a tinge of self-confident passive aggressivism. Very Minnesotan indeed.

– Loveland

Off Target

Citizen’s Stadium. Public Park. Taxpayer Grounds. Bubbas’ Ballpark. Fans’ Field. Any of these names would have been more apt and fair for the Twins new ballpark than the official name announced yesterday, Target Field.

I’ve got nothing against Target. I regularly choose it as my favored place to buy loads of worthless crap. But really, should Target get all the glory?

After all, Target didn’t make the Twins new baseball playground possible. The taxpayers of Hennepin County did. When no one else, including Target, would step forward to fund the ballpark, the taxpayers of Hennepin County ended a bitter decade-long ballpark financing stalemate by shelling out $392 million, in the form of a 0.15 sales tax increase…often paid at Target. Without our Hennepin heroes, we’d still be suffering through faux relocation threats from our favorite subsidy starved billionaire.

But Target, not taxpayers, will get the glory. Gone are the days when we named community-funded stadiums after soldiers’ sacrifices, visionary leaders or the community’s team. No more Soldier’s Field, Memorial Stadium, Humphrey Metrodome or Yankee Stadium. Pucket Park and other quaint suggestions to name it after Twins heroes never stood a chance.

No, now we do with the name what we do with everything else in society, sell it to the highest bidder. Between Target Center and Target Field, we also learned yesterday that we will have Target Plaza. In coming months, expect to learn that the Target Light Rail will be delivering fans to the freshly rebranded Targetapolis. The aisles promise to be nice and wide.

Look, I’m a big boy. I know corporate-branded, community-funded assets are the way of the world these days. Hard to put the Genie back into that bottle. And goodness knows, it could have been way worse. Haliburton Grounds. Waste Management Field. Penthouse Park. 800-588-2300 Empire Stadium. But then again, perhaps if that could have yielded another million per year for Carl…

– Loveland

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