"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Please listen to my song about Target Field

The new major league baseball season is underway. A big deal is always made of opening day. So much so, it seems many journalists feel obligated to use capital letters: "Opening Day." Fine, enjoy your Opening Day. I think the importance is symbolic. It's like a rite of spring, a signal that summer isn't far off.
In terms of actual importance, well, consider that a major league baseball season is made up of 162 games. It's quite the opposite of NFL football where each game can have appreciable importance. Is it still 16 games or have they expanded to 18? Either way it's a small number compared to baseball. I am at a stage in my life where I don't wish to pay any attention to football.
Our Minnesota Twins have their home at the still-new Target Field. I am certain it is a wonderful experience to watch a game there. In 2010, ESPN The Magazine ranked Target Field as the No. 1 baseball stadium experience in North America. Given that, it's entirely apt that I have written a song celebrating the experience there. My song is called "When I'm at Target Field." It has a swinging rhythmic feel and the idea is to exude joy.
I write all this having not visited Target Field myself, yet. I'm a homebody at this stage of my life, as most of you know.
My song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank Michels. "Franklin" is his formal name. The Nashville musical community is wonderful. I invite you to listen to my song by clicking on the YouTube link below. Thanks to Brent Gulsvig of Gulsvig Productions, Starbuck MN, for getting the song online.
Target Field hosted the 2014 Major League All-Star Game. I can remember it was a big deal back in 1965 when we got the All-Star Game here. Remember, we weren't even big league back in 1960. Minnesota ended up falling totally in love with big league baseball. It has been quite the fulfilling marriage, to where we now have a stadium judged the best in North America.
Our Target Field accommodates just under 40,000 fans. It's in the warehouse district west of downtown Minneapolis. It's a "neutral" park that was built not to favor either hitting or pitching. But as it turned out, pitching seems to have gotten the upper hand. Our previous stadiums were known to be friendly to hitters.
The original home, of course, was Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington. One of my top missions as a blog writer has been to keep alive memories of the old "Met." I have written a song/paean about the Met, not recorded yet, that has this chorus:
We called it the Met
Without it we could never be big league
It rose up like a castle on the plains
We always heard the jets
And yet it seemed so soothing and serene
People came from far to see the games
I'd like to think that's very descriptive. We must never let go of our memories of the Met. It was an open-air stadium that was not engineered in any special way to ward off the cold. Target Field is quite the opposite that way.
I feel old when I realize I gave journalistic coverage to the efforts to plan the Metrodome, a.k.a. "The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome." Democrats were more popular back then.
Supposedly the Dome was a breakthrough, a way to ensure that big league sports would stay here. Part of that argument was that a roof was needed to completely insulate us from the elements. Of course it was just a sales job. Just like a sales job emerged again to persuade us that we really needed a good open-air park. Bert Blyleven said of baseball at the Dome, toward the end: "That's not baseball." He would never have said that during the drive to get the Dome built.
Truth be told, fans can simply get bored with a sports venue. But we had better embrace Target Field, because I can't see the day when we feel that has to be replaced. As for football, I can see the day when this sport simply fades away and disappears. Football is likely to have its last bastion in the U.S. Southeast. It will become a sport with a low image, played by men largely from challenged backgrounds.
Metropolitan Stadium had a fascinating chapter in hosting the Minnesota Kicks soccer team. It was a phenomenon in its prime. My generation went wild over it. I never attended a Kicks game. The Met's final years saw my generation begin to diss the Twins as entertainment. It was sad to observe. The cure for that was the new Metrodome, which seemed to give the Twins a shiny-new image again, just like in '61.
Here's a question: What if the Twins had stayed in the second division for a long time in the 1960s? It could have happened. Would Minnesotans have had enough patience? I think the reason we brought back Bill Musselman to coach the Timberwolves was that the powers-that-be in this state realized we couldn't have a typical losing expansion team. We needed some spark right away. We did get it. But the Timberwolves may have picked up a jinx that rears its ugly head still today. We needed some higher draft picks early-on. Those early years were so frustrating: There would be four can't-miss prospects in the NBA draft and we'd draft fifth.
At any rate, our state seems still quite attached to our Minnesota Twins. We played the 2016 season opener. Now, just 161 more games to go. Play ball!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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