I'm back from my week-long vacation and back from my weekend in the "Land of 10,000 Infield Hits," also known as Minnesota.
Naturally, no trip to Minneapolis is complete without a visit to the scene of many crimes, the Dump Dome. Look carefully at the street sign in the photo at left. Can't see it? Maybe this will help:
Yes, indeed. It does say "Chicago Av" under that Minnesota Vikings sign. The Metrodome, a building with a rich history of frustration for Chicago teams, is located at the corner of 6th and Chicago in downtown Minneapolis. We laughed out loud at the irony. As soon as I saw that, I told ChiSoxGirl we needed to get a picture of that sign for this blog.
Naturally, none of us could resist having our pictures taken at the Metrodome. There was nobody around except for some workmen painting various things that hideous Viking purple color, so we figured what the heck?
This is me standing in front of the railings by the ticket office at the Dump. ChiSoxGirl took this picture while standing on Chicago Av.
I thought it was quite fitting that I was wearing my White Sox 2008 AL Central Division champions T-Shirt. I wanted to show the Metrodome that all the infield hits it gave the Twins during that '08 season weren't enough to rob the Sox of the division championship that was rightfully theirs that year. (Take that, Dump Dome!)
Speaking with Minnesota fans -- both through the years and on this trip to Minneapolis -- I think even they would admit that the dome was a terrible place for baseball. Most of them are glad the dome has been relegated to a football-only facility.
Target Field is a nice place to watch a ballgame. I was impressed, and Twins fans should be glad they can watch baseball at place like this now instead of that artificial, plastic rathole they had been going to previously.
One thing I really liked is how you can see the Minneapolis skyline beyond right field while you're watching the game. I always thought the people who designed U.S. Cellular Field made a mistake by not building the park at such an angle that you could see the great Chicago skyline from the seats. Instead, you can see the Dan Ryan Expressway and the train tracks and such, which is unfortunate.
The people who built Target Field got it right.
Another thing that stands out about Minneapolis is the fact that Joe Mauer is a really big freakin' deal there. I've seen Twins fans at U.S. Cellular Field wearing the player T-Shirts with the No. 7 and "Baby Jesus" on the back before, and I thought they were nuts.
Now, I get it. Mauer really is a cult-like figure up there. There are these weird colored Joe Mauer statues on literally every block in downtown Minneapolis. Later, we found out that there are 50 such Mauer statues located throughout the city. This is the 50th anniversary of the Twins, and there is one Mauer statue for each season in the team's history.
We were talking Saturday night trying to figure if any Chicago athlete has ever been as popular here as Mauer is in Minnesota. The only possible comparison would be Michael Jordan. Back when the Bulls were kicking ass in the 1990s, seemingly every fourth or fifth person you saw on the street was wearing a pair of Air Jordans.
Well, that's how it is with Mauer in Minnesota. Every fourth or fifth person you see on the street is wearing a Mauer jersey or a No. 7 player T-Shirt. There are plenty of Justin Morneau shirts around, too, but Mauer is far and away the most popular figure up there. He's basically Minnesota's Jordan, without the six championships.
Getting back to the statues, I did find it amusing that Carlos Gomez appeared on the crotch of his particular Mauer statue. As we all know, Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson had an insufferable man-crush on Gomez when the below-average outfielder was with the Twins. Hawk would probably be just furious to see Gomez pictured so disrespectfully on Mauer's crotch.
At any rate, Minneapolis was nice. It is a clean city. One member of our group described it as being a "mini-Chicago." It is definitely smaller. There isn't quite as much to do there as there is here, but it is not boring by any stretch either. We had plenty to do for the three days we were there and not much down time at all.
The service was iffy in two of the three sports bars we went to, but aside from that, the people were friendly. It was a pleasant change from our experience in Milwaukee last summer. The Brewers fans are a bunch of asses. They have an inferiority complex about Chicago and Chicago fans, and they went out of their way to exchange insults with Sox fans. When I was at Miller Park last year, you got the feeling a riot could break out at any moment.
The opposite was true in Minnesota. There were a lot of Sox fans in Minneapolis over the weekend, but Minnesota residents didn't seem to be bothered by that at all. Judging by the amount of White Sox gear in the storefronts at the Mall of America, they were just hoping we'd spend as much money as possible to contribute to their local economy.
There were no personal insults or taunts coming from either side, just a few good-natured jabs here or there, which is how it is supposed to be. As we were walking to Target Field on Friday, a Minneapolis police officer told us the game was at the Metrodome and that we were walking the wrong way. We just laughed and told him we weren't falling for that one.
After the game, we were accosted by a group of Twins fans who said they wanted to have their picture taken with some White Sox fans. We found that a little strange, but we cooperated gladly. I doubt that would ever happen in Milwaukee or Detroit.
There was an unbelievable thunderstorm in the city after Saturday's game. We got caught in it and got drenched, but one of the locals offered us a ride back to our hotel. We gladly accepted, and that saved us having to run three blocks back through a driving downpour. Would something like that have happened in Milwaukee? Hell no!
I'd like to go back to Minnesota some time, but it probably won't be for a few years once the "new stadium mania" subsides. It's really hard to get tickets there at a reasonable price, so much so that we opted to watch Saturday's game at a bar. A couple members of our party decided to pay inflated rates on StubHub. I took a pass.
If any Sox fans are looking to go on a road trip with the team sometime soon, I'd recommend Minnesota. The only downside is the ticket cost. If you can afford that, Minneapolis is a nice place to visit for a weekend.
(Photos all by ChiSoxGirl)