Baseball has worn me out this summer, and it’s all because of Target Field. A baseball game at Target Field is a “happening,” as we used to say. Every game has 40,000+ fans. There are so many new concessions I want to try. The scoreboard continues to amaze me. I have given up keeping score because everything I would ever want to see is available at a glance. The hawks, the squirrels, the rain, the clouds, and the rainbows have all made their appearances to remind us that we are really watching baseball in Minnesota in the great outdoors.
I have to admit that at times I have missed the Dome. Do you remember being able to go to a baseball game with empty seats around you and being able to just kick back and enjoy the game? There were no distractions, no decisions about what to eat (give me a Hormel hot dog every time!), nothing to take my attention away from the game. It was a relaxing experience, even when the Twins were playing really good baseball. Above is a picture of my mom and me at a Twins game in 2001. Check out the empty seats in the rows in front of us.
And I keep thinking that if this is the way I am feeling, imagine how the players feel. Joe Mauer has not only had to adapt to Target Field but he has also had the demands of being the reigning American League MVP, the top vote-getter in the All-Star balloting, and trying to work with our struggling starting rotation. And now we have Carl Pavano, our most reliable pitcher, preferring to pitch to Drew Buterra because they have developed a good working relationship. Mauer is struggling at the plate this year, but the expectations placed on him are huge. It may be that 2009 was Mauer’s banner year and he may never reach those marks again. That is okay. He is still our favorite son—but that can also be a burden. That being said, I just watched Mauer go 5 for 5 with 7 RBIs in the game against Kansas City. I think he is going to be okay.
I want to revisit the comments I made in my last blog entry, about the record books and the steroid issue. Some thought that I was dismissing the use of performance-enhancing drugs as inconsequential. I meant to say that this abuse is now part of baseball’s history. It is important to recognize it and for Major League Baseball to be diligent in its testing so that this abuse can no longer occur. However, my point is that the records that were set by players are also part of baseball history. If it can be proven that a player set a record because of their use of steroids or other drugs, then remove their names from the record book. If it can’t be proven beyond doubt, then let it go. It is what it is, and putting an asterisk next to a name only muddies the record for everyone. Who really does have the most home runs? Is it Hank Aaron or is it Barry Bonds? Right now it is Barry Bonds, and we need to accept that as history. Many of these players will be kept from the Hall of Fame because of the choices they made. That in itself is a strong statement about what their place in history is.
Andre Dawson was recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; here’s a quote I like from his acceptance speech.
“Baseball will from time to time, like anything else in life, fall victim to the mistakes that people make,” Dawson said. “It’s not pleasant and it’s not right. Those mistakes have hurt the game and taken a toll on all of us. Individuals have chosen the wrong road and have chosen that as their legacy. Others still have a chance to choose theirs. Do not be moved to the dark side. It’s a stain on the game, a stain gradually being removed.”