Against all odds, Minnesotans will again enjoy outdoor baseball

first_imgInside a small apartment, tucked away in the second drawer of an IKEA-engineered dresser, there is a 30-year-old T-shirt with three screen-printed words: “Save the Met.” The shirt, which is vaguely the same color as bare skin or off-brand peanut butter, is as unremarkable as it is ugly, but to a Minnesota baseball fan, it might as well be the Shroud of Turin.For the faithful, it represents tangible evidence of outdoor baseball’s existence in the land of the ice and snow — a land that for the past 28 years has been dominated by the world’s least interesting inflatable castle. It also represents nostalgia, where in the dark years of Scott Stahoviak and Ron Coomer, one could revisit the hagiographies of Killebrew and Carew.But it may finally be time to bury those memories — and that shirt — next to the North Stars and Kevin Garnett. We are all about to bear witness to the second coming.On March 27, 2010, the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field will finally open its doors to baseball.The inaugural game, which pits the University of Minnesota against Louisiana Tech (a Big Ten school with a baseball team? That’s weird) will be of little consequence, but the symbolism will be monumental. For over three years, we’ve watched the building site like gawkers in front of the Wonka Factory, hunting for unlocked gates or napping security guards.Sure, naming a stadium after a retail chain doesn’t exactly inspire the same enthusiasm as one named after a beer or a bailed-out financial institution, but at least Target is still run by Americans. Just wait until they start playing cricket at Miller Park.Ultimately, the need to follow the stadium came from the bewilderment that it was actually being built. For years, the Twins complained about their need for a new ballpark, and for years, the state legislature ignored them. Even in the face of Commissioner Bud Selig’s contraction threats, there was little push to get something done.And yet here we are, amid a massive recession, substantial unemployment and failing inner-city schools, ready to cut the ribbon to a taxpayer-funded ballpark. It’s not right. It’s indicative of a society’s downfall, where McDonald’s salads are health food and affordable medicine is communist.And we couldn’t be happier.At least most of us couldn’t be happier. As Lincoln said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but only if you wear a really big hat.” This is, after all, why Lincoln wore a really big hat. It’s also why John Wilkes Booth hated him.But Target Field won’t be sporting a really big hat — or, as architects like to call it, a roof — so it goes without saying that not everyone is pleased. However, for every pseudo-northerner who relies on retractable roofs, winter jackets and heating bills to stay comfortable, there’s a Metropolitan Stadium disciple willing to spread the truth regarding average monthly temperatures in the United States.There are at least seven major league baseball cities (and eight teams) with an average aggregate April temperature between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit: Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Boston — it’s possible that Cincinnati’s in there, too, although apparently the NOAA doesn’t feel the Queen City deserves mention in their giant graph, and it’s hard to blame them.As of today, only one of those eight teams plays in a roofed stadium. The world has not ended. And no matter what Pat Robertson says, Target Field will not spur on the apocalypse.Of course, nothing silences tax dollar and temperature grumblings more effectively than July baseball under something that’s not Teflon or steel. We may miss the cheap tickets, the rowdy student nights, the noise and the wind tunnel exits, but we won’t miss facing the 50-yard line, the sea of blue seats, the bathroom troughs or Butch Huskey.Well, we might actually miss Butch Huskey.Time heals most non-life threatening wounds, and nostalgia works in cycles. People actually like “Don’t Stop Believing” now. And despite what the introduction tried to convey, it’s not like many people actually miss the Met. It was falling apart; the third deck of the stadium was condemned by the late 1970’s. It wasn’t about saving Metropolitan Stadium — it was about saving outdoor baseball.Now if only we could swap the Wild for the Stars.Sean is a senior majoring in journalism and Minnesota history. Are you excited to attend a baseball game outdoors in the Land of 10,000 lakes? Or did you prefer the turf and inflatable nature of the Dome? Let him know at skittridge@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

No review needed for Fox Sports 1 ratings home run

first_imgSometimes internal memos get leaked. Or they get posted for everyone to share.Nothing clandestine about how Fox Sports made sure an in-house missive from FS1 chief Jamie Horowitz and right-hand man John Entz got up on its “Press Pass” website Tuesday, based on how the “team” was lauded for having Oct. 10-16 rank as the highest-rated and most-watched week in the history of the channel that was launched three years ago.It was also the first time FS1 had eclipsed ESPN in weekly primetime and total-day audience.There was, of course, all the hopes and dreams of Chicago Cubs fans behind it. The “memo” came a day after a Monday press release touting the Dodgers’ 1-0 win over the Cubs in NLCS Game 2 from Wrigley Field as attracting 7.3 million viewers, according to overnight figures, which set an undisputed audience record for the channel still trying to promote the heck out of the Bayless-Sharpe “Undisputed” show. That game had a 10.8 rating in L.A., and 23.9 in Chicago.Without a release issued since then, we can report the FS1 coverage of Game 3 on Tuesday from Dodger Stadium — the Dodgers’ 6-0 win — had a 4.7 rating and averaged 6.5 million viewers (or 6.85 million when factoring in online streaming and Fox Deportes) to make it the second-most watched telecast in FS1 history. The L.A. market was even better than Game 2 — an 11.7 mark, best for FS1 in its home city.However, with the third presidental debate going up against NLCS Game 4 on Wednesday, the Cubs’ 10-2 win attracted 5.813 million viewers and had a 4.1 rating and seven share. L.A. posted just a 7.8 rating/13 share while Chicago pulled a 21.2/32, which doesn’t even take into account those thousands watching in a local bar.The Thursday night Game 5 will be a test as well for the Chicago market, as it goes up against the Bears-Packers NFL game on the NFL Network and the CBS affiliates.• So why did the Fox Sports 1 pre- and postgame show go on the road to Wrigley Field for Games 1 and 2 last week, but was a no-show at Dodger Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5? The crew featuring Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas stayed in the friendly confines of the L.A. studio on Pico because it made more sense logistically and financially, according to a Fox source, even if it would have made for a better visual having the guys planted in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and challenging Cubs and Dodgers fans to commingle peacefully.NFL• How Week 7 of the NFL shakes out for the L.A. market — and why Channel 2 will have three games Sunday because of it. Dan Fouts chimes in as well on the Rams’ London excursion.College football• Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Shannon Spake have UCLA’s 1 p.m. Rose Bowl contest against Utah on Fox (KTTV-Channel 11). More on the rest of Week 8 in the L.A. TV market (with USC taking a bye week) at this link.WNBA• Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will be the ESPN2 crew calling the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals between the Sparks and Lynx from Minneapolis at 5 p.m. Thursday.• Thanks again to Rowe for giving us more insight into her recent cancer battle and how working WNBA games has contributed to her recovery process. Rowe goes from this game to covering Arkansas at Auburn on Saturday.Soccer• The Galaxy’s regular-season finale against FC Dallas at the StubHub Center (Sunday, 1 p.m., FS1, with John Strong, Brad Friedel and Julie Stewart-Binks) is an exercise in getting ready for the start of next week’s playoffs — and the postseason is hardly new for the franchise that has qualified in 18 of their 21 seasons, for an 86 percent rate. Dallas, meanwhile, is trying to secure the No. 1 spot in the West as well as capture the Supporters Shield.Most interesting to Galaxy fans, who already know the team is locked into the third spot in the Western Conference and will have a home single-elimination game, is who they will play either Wednesday or Thursday next week.That feeds into how ESPN will cover “Decision Day” as they’re calling it. All 10 league matches are played at the same time Sunday, and ESPN has Seattle-Real Salt Lake (Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman), while ESPN2 will do a “whiparound” coverage of all games in progress with Max Bretos, Alejandro Moreno and Brian Dunseth also starting at 1 p.m.Also• Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon hit the 15-year mark for ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” on Monday. Their reward: More years of doing this. Said Kornheiser: “The fact that ESPN would give me yet another extension at my age indicates one of two things: One, they have never actually seen me on television. Two, they feel they are saving money on health insurance because they think I will have all my expenses covered by Medicare. Either way I am thrilled to be doing PTI with Wilbon and scaring the children.”• Bottoms up to FS1’s Katie Nolan for her performance on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” trying to explain how President Teddy Roosevelt helped progress the sport of football. This lesson might have been punctuated by interesting the fact that Roosevelt’s actions led to the creation of the NCAA governing board (which did not mandate helmets until 1939), but, hey, why ruin a sloppy story?At least Nolan ended her rather rudimentary lecture while under the influence to host Derek Waters and all the young male viewers who have fantasized what it would be like to be in a room where she might be tipsy and loose-lipped: “There was a national standard for what football was … and it was great … and it was all great because of Teddy Roosevelt … and like, nobody knows that. They just think, ‘Teddy Roosevelt, oh, President’ or ‘Teddy Roosevelt, oh, you mean Franklin?’ because we’re young and dumb and nobody reads a goddamn book anymore.”Or, they just get learned from “Drunk History.”More media notes going into the weekend at www.insidesocal.com/tomhoffarth. The fulcrum of the Cubs-Giants NLDS Game 4 — combined with the centrifugal force of the Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Games 1 and 2 contests that could have easily been on Fox’s over-the-air channel but were instead relegated to an outlet trying to up its saturation from just seven of every 10 TV homes (still behind ESPN and ESPN2, pretty even with ESPNEWS and ESPNU and a bit more than NFL Network, MLB Network and WGN) — made this a simple physics equation.Mass appeal is the byproduct of energy and force-fed programming.Valuable live games like MLB playoffs have a buzz factor that permeates other parts of the day and night programming. Or, in realistic terms, there are examples for those who, once they find FS1 on the menu for a Dodgers game, they just keep it there all day and let it keep running for the fear they’ll miss the next contest.(Also, for what it’s worth, the memo cites having “our L.A. neighbors at USC” on the channel in helping the cause. But the last Trojans’ game on FS1 was Sept. 23. Games subsequently against ASU, Colorado and Arizona were on national Fox, Pac-12 Network and again national Fox. If the reference was to UCLA, well, the Bruins have yet to be on FS1).After weaving in more data that had to do with other chat shows on the channel surrounding the MLB games, Horowitz urged the staff to join them at the Fox Lot 101 multipurpose room to celebrate with “bagels, donuts and coffee!” Those bastards know how to party. Pass the lox, for cryin’ out loud.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more