August 15, 2009 – Road Trip Day 2:
Last season, we designed our baseball road trip around my desire to visit the Louisville Slugger factory. This year, the primary focus was to take part in the final season of the beautiful Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Today was the day, and the Metrodome did not disappoint.
We started the day at Wisconsin Dells KOA — which by the way is one happening KOA. We rose early and walked a couple laps of the KOA camp grounds…
…then my dad and Tim played some catch while I re-packed for the next leg of the drive.
If you like water parks, you really gotta check out Wis Dells. There are huge water parks on every block. There was some crazy looking stuff. So check it out.
A large portion of our drive was in Wisconsin. When I think Wisconsin, I think cheese. And the billboards of Wisconsin didn’t let cheese stray far from my mind. We spotted billboards to every type of cheese based establishment you’d ever want to visit. Unfortunately, we visited none.
We had a funny moment as we drove through Saint Paul. I make mix CDs from iTunes for our road trips, and many of our weekend game excursions. I made two volumes for this trip and we were listening to volume 2 as we drove into Saint Paul. The radio in our rental car blared Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” Then Tim yelled, “WE ARE THE MARINERS! Let’s sing it! Let’s sing it!” So we did,
“We are the Mariners, my friends. And, we’ll keeping on hitting until the end. We are the Mariners, We are the Mariners. No time for losers because WE ARE THE MARINERS…of Seattle…of Seattle!”
The game was a 3:10 start. We rolled into the bigger Twin City at about 12:30 and quickly found a reasonably priced ($10) parking garage across the street from the Metrodome. We parked in the closest parking space to the Dome.
We then climbed the stairs and exited the parking garage out of a set of doors leading to a pedestrian-only street (at least it was pedestrian-only at the time) between the garage and the Metrodome. This is what it looked like:
Tim and I used the time leading up to the 1:10 opening of the stadium to play some catch on the street while my dad explored around the perimeter of the HHHM.
We then met up and got our pictures by this sign…
A few minutes later, we were inside the first true “Dome” of Tim’s life, and mine and my dad’s first true “Dome” since the King of all Domes, the Kingdome:
Look at Tim checking out the Dome with wonder and amazement. For those of you who weren’t raised in a dome, you might not understand. But there is something awe inspiring being in such a huge building. The Kingdome was just about the coolest place in the world. It was huge. There were fireworks going off inside. And it was the place where I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners.
I have no affiliation to the Twins (although my great grandma Lillian Hoffman was from Worthington, Minn.), but I’ve long been a Twins sympathizer. Some of it had to do with Kirby Puckett — for whom I named my dog, Kirby. But a lot more of that had to do with the fact the Twins play in this beautiful Kingdome’ish facility.
All this is to say that it strangly felt like a homecoming entering the Metrodome for the first time. And I was ten times as excited to be there than I was excited to be at the objectively far superior Wrigley Field the day before.
We arrived for the beginning of BP because we really wanted to try to get one of the extremely cool looking HHH Metrodome commemorative baseballs that I’ve seen on tons of MLBlogs all season. The Twins were hitting when we entered, and we took our place in CF:
We stood all by ourselves at the CF corner seats highlighted by the red arrow above. There were two Twins players in CF shagging balls. I had the feeling they were pitchers, but I have no clue who they were. But, apparently, it didn’t matter:
This was our 20th ball of the season — an all-time season best for me and Tim (or for me alone before Tim was born) and it was our first ever commemorative ball.
Tim got super-excited when I handed him the ball. He held it out to a crowd of adults who were all cheering him on for getting the ball and yelled, “I GOT A BASEBALL!” He then ran to the incredibly steep Metrodome stairs (much steeper than the Kingdome’s stairs) and started running up the stairs holding the ball behind his back. The following scene transpired as I ran after him:
[METRODOME – Interior – Early Evening]
Todd – “Tim, where are you going!!!!?”
Tim – “I got to show my baseball to Grandpa!”
Todd – “But Grandpa is down there! (pointing back to the field)”
Tim – “Ohh!” (turning to run down the incredibly steep stairs)
Todd – “Hold on to the seats! You’re gonna fall down!”
Tim – (ignores his father and runs to his grandpa)
Tim – “Grandpa, I GOT A BASEBALL!!”
Grandpa – “Cool!”
Stadium Attendant – (Takes picture of me, Tim and the baseball)
Carlos Gomez – (throws ball to a little girl standing next to my dad)
Dad – (catches the little girl’s baseball)
Stadium Attendant – “Give that ball to that girl.”
Dad – (gives baseball to little girl)
Carlos Gomez – (throws baseball to my dad)
Dad – “Look, Tim! Another ball!”
Tim – (takes ball and gives it to me and starts running up the stairs)
Todd – “Where you going!!!!!!?”
Tim – “LET’S GO PLAY CATCH!!!” (in a tone implying that I’ve been forcing him not to play catch all this time).
Todd – (chases Tim)
Carlos Gomez – (throws his batting gloves to my dad)
Dad – (gives one of the batting gloves to the little girl and pockets the other)
The scene on the field:
The red arrow: Carlos Gomez.
The glove and ball: courtesy of Carlos Gomez.
The guy cirlced by Todd (not by Bert): unknown Twin who threw the ball to me and Tim.
(By the way, Gomez made a ridiculous home run robbing catch during BP just to the RF side of the 408 sign. He was on a full sprint and his body was half above the fence as he caught it. He got a huge ovation from the small BP crowd.)
After the scene above, Tim and I played some catch in the concourse behind the RF baggy:
It was pretty crowed in the concourse, at least for playing catch, but we managed to play some quality catch for a few minutes. Check out the picture on the right, those doors are chained and locked shut. On the other side of the door is the beginning of a stairway that leads down into the seats at Vikings games. However, at Twins games, they lead to big drop off into the outfield and/or the seats folded up behind the baggy.
Speaking of the baggy and the folded seats, after playing catch, we went into the seats in CF closest to the baggy. This was the view:
This is the view to my left, check it out:
In the picture to the right, notice anything interesting? There are four baseballs resting on the backs of the folded chairs. They are all perched on the drink holders on the backs of the seats. Note: the smaller ball-looking-object toward the bottom left of the picture is a balled-up foil hot dog wrapper, not a baseball.
Tim sat in the seats in this CF section and looked at some baseball cards an usher gave him. The Indians were hitting now and someone hit a ball to an Indian named “Lewis” — I have no clue who that is — and I yelled, “Hey, Lewis!” to see if he’d be interested in throwing a ball up to our high vantage point. He wasn’t interested. But the funny part of the story is that Tim shouted, “No, Dad, we already got a baseball! Leave them alone, they’re concentrating!” So after a few more minutes, we left the Indians to their concentrating and we headed to the upper deck to see if it was less crowded. Tim still had catch-playing on his mind. However, the upper deck concourse was even busier than the lower concourse. So, we decided to get some dinner.
We ordered nachos, a hot dog, a gigantic diet coke, and a bottle of water. Normally I bring a little infant “sippy cup” for Tim to drink water out of during games. But I’d forgot it in the car. I bought the water solely for the purpose of having a re-sealable water holding receptacle for Tim’s water. However, and this is my biggest complaint about the Metrodome, the kind Mid-western lady wouldn’t give us the cap. I told her it was the sole reason I purchased the water. She apologized, but said it was “League Policy” that they cannot give out caps with bottled drinks. That’s a new one on me. How about you?
Here is the spot we found for eating our food:
This was the view:
My dad tracked us down and ate with us. But soon, it was time for me to go off and explore and photograph the stadium. I asked my dad if Tim could stay with him. He said yes, but Tim wanted to come explore the stadium with me.
Here we go —
With Tim on my shoulders, we started off by walking up the stairs and toward home plate. Our first stop was the infield *big screen* (the Metrodome has two screens). I have never seen this before, but the screen is literally two feet behind the back row of seats, and you can easily touch it. Here it is up close:
Cool, huh? Each red, blue and green dot is a little light that feels like a little bump.
Here is the view from the top of the dome behind home plate:
Here are a couple Dome-loving Cooks in this same spot:
While behind home plate, I noticed some stuff that looked a lot like Kingdome stuff:
What’s the opposite of *state-of-the-art*? History-of-the-art?
Next, we continued on our journey and headed toward the LF corner. On our way, we noticed this:
Support beams ringing row 26 of the Metrodome upper deck. The Kingdome didn’t have support beams. Instead, if my knowledge serves me, it had high tension cables that ran across the roof and down the sides. They were built into the building, you couldn’t see them. But they kept the whole thing tight and in place without support beams — and without the obstructed views that result from beams in stadiums.
Now, check this out in the picture to the right. The seats directly behind the beam are missing the “seats.” They’re just backs and arm rests. Obviously, you cannot buy those non-seats. However, one row back from the beam, the seats are seats. I had to probe further.
This is what I determined, the Twins have apparently concluded that the following is an unacceptably obstructed view:
That’s a good call by the Twins. That view just won’t do.
However, apparently this view will do — and apparently, it is worth $22 (the general cost of an infield upperdeck seat according to http://www.twins.mlb.com):
Hmmm…it does provide a decent view of third base and LF-CF. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this view also is unacceptable — of course, the Yankees will probably side with the Twins on this one.
In the Twins defense, I’m not sure if they have an obstructed view decreased price. However, is there any price you would pay for that view? You can’t see the infield!!!
This wasn’t the only odd seating situation I found in the upper deck. Take a ganders at this:
The red arrows are pointing to the same seat. To the left, notice that you risk a concussion getting to this seat. I had to duck not to smash my head (and Tim’s) on that huge pipe above the seats. To the right, notice that the lucky Twins fan who sits in this seat has to look around the duct work to watch the game. In fact, if he or she decides to relax a bit and actually sit back in his or her seats, his or her head will be behind the duct. Doh!
On with the tour, LF foul territory:
Left field, monster bomb territory:
Here is the main scoreboard and big screen — with a little more protection and a warning, but still easily accessible to the crowd:
Here is the view from deep Left CF:
On TV, I’ve always thought the big retired number pictures were on a white wall at the top of the Metrodome. They are not. Instead, huge portraits of Kirby Puckett (34), Harman Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Kent Hrbek (14), Tony Oliva (6), and Jackie Robinson (42) hang from big sheets of white canvas that are also hanging from the Metrodome roof.
Oddly, these things stop about 4-5 feet above the seats so you can see and/or walk up behind the curtains, which is a little spooky:
As we walked along the bottom of the curtain, Tim would punch the sand bags shown in the bottom right picture.
Here is a view from RF:
A very similar picture from a little further foul:
Finally, we headed back to the home plate area and got one more panaramic from the first row of the upper deck:
I should note that, if you buy tickets in the home run porch (LF), the Twins don’t let you into the field seats in the infield area.
So, our touring was complete, and it was time to head to our seats in section 100, row 9 of the home run porch:
Top left, Tim and grandpa hanging out watching the first inning. Top right, Tim has fun making faces. Bottom left, Choo stood about 30 feet from us in LF. Bottom right, some dudes wearing man-eating fish helmets.
Here was our view from our seats (featuring our Metrdome ball):
In the second inning, Tim and I went to get ice cream helmets. Oddly, he decided he wanted a cone. But then, due to no nap all day, he fell asleep before we reached our seats again…
…so I handed off the cone to my dad.
Here is the game from the ice cream helmet point of view:
After my dad finished Tim’s cone, Tim did some sleeping on Grandpa’s shoulder:
Then he came back to my shoulder until he woke up…
In the picture to the right, Tim asks me in a still grogy voice, “Where’s my ice cream cone?” So, we headed back to section 131 (or so) to get more ice cream.
Along the way, I took a picture of a *luxury* suite:
The suites open to the main concourse, which is certainly odd, and they seemed like they were only about 8′ x 8′ — not too impressive.
Before getting the ice cream, we stepped into one of the entry ways to the infield seats and took some action photos:
The worst part about the Metrodome is that it was really hard to get action photos to come out clear. Most of my shots were extremely blury. However, in the top right, here are a few decent photos.
In the top left, that stolen base was negated by a foul tip. At top right, Choo takes a cut at a pitch. Bottom left, my dad’s new favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez, fires a ball back to the infield. Bottom right, Grady Sizemore does the same as Gomez.
This time around, Tim decided on the ice cream helmet…
Hey, have you heard its hard to see fly balls in the Metrodome roof? It is. Here is why:
It appears to be a two-layer roof. The natural light filters through the roof. When it is sunny outside, the roof it brighter white. Once it started getting darker outside, the roof was noticably darker.
Here is my favorite action shot of the day…
I’m not sure who the hitter is, but this swing resulted in a single to LF.
We were all rooting for the Twins. However, it wasn’t their night. They ultimately lost the contest to the Indians.
Here is our official baseball road trip group shot:
After the game, it was on to Hixton, Wisconsin for another night at a KOA. It was a lot of driving to get this Metrodome game in, but it was well worth it. We were three completely satisfied customers (well, aside from the invocation of the alleged “League Policy” against giving customers caps for their bottled drinks).
Next up, the Astros and Brewers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.
Season Fan Stats:
23 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
9 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and HHH Metrodome)
20 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
19 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins and Cubs)
20 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)