Thursday, April 15, 2010

Red Sox at Twins -- Busting Myths

Monday -- Red Sox 2 - Twins 5
Wednesday -- Red Sox 6 - Twins 3
Thursday -- Red Sox 0 - Twins 8

Twins take series 2-1
The Twins are 2-0 in games I attend. I hope the Twins organization remembers that with a gift of free tickets if there is a late-season push for wins.


So the Twins are all nice and cozy in their new home. For the first time that I can remember, I went to two home games in one week -- usually the only time I do that is if I'm traveling (so they're away games). So, since I'm all expert-y now about the ins and outs of Target Field and the Twins, I thought I'd review some myths and determine their validity.

  1. The Northstar Commuter Train is a great way to get from the northwest suburbs to Target Field. Well, in theory, it's a great idea. I mean, it goes from Big Lake; stops at Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley; and drops you right at the Target Field station. How great is that? Well, it's ok. I boarded in Elk River, and when we left the station, all the seats were full and some people were standing. By the time we left Coon Rapids, the train was stuffed. They needed to call in some buses to take the folks from Fridley. Oh, and because there were so many people boarding, we arrived at the ballpark late. Also, the "Family Pass" ticket is a great deal -- if you qualify. It's $13 (from Elk River) for two adults and up to three kids 6-12 (5 and under free) round-trip. Hmm. That's less than parking. However, my kids are older than 12. So for 4 adults, it's $22 one way. Not a deal at all. (Shhh...we bought the Family Pass ticket anyway.) And then leaving was an adventure. We couldn't fit on the first train out, so we had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. What a waste of time. And not all games will have trains coming back, so you have to be careful, or you're paying a lot for cab fare. So, while I'd love to take the commuter line to the park, it's not completely practical. This myth is busted.[Important Update: scroll down]
  2. The concourses of Target Field are wider and less crowded than the ones at the Dome. Well, Target Field's concourses may measure wider, and they are less crowded -- during the game. However, before the game starts and after it ends, it's just as bad as before. They do, however, do a good job getting everyone out of the building, so that experience is a little better. But, man, before the game, when all the concession stand lines block the walking lanes, it's tough to get through. Now, in their defense, if I had arrived earlier, I may have been able to avoid a lot of the crowding. This is what public transportation does for me. So, if you allow that the concourses will be stuffed both before and after the game, the rest of the time they're all right. This myth is plausible, but not likely.
  3. The cupholders at Target Field aren't tilted like they are at the Dome. Back in January, when the Twins front office employees first moved into Target Field, the person behind the official Twins Twitter account asked fans if they have any questions. So I asked him/her if the cupholders were tilted like they are at the Dome, and he/she replied that no, they were not. Happy news; I really hate to have to drink half my beer/pop before I can set it down. For Monday's game, my tickets were in a wheelchair row (I had a folding chair), and the cupholder was perfectly level. However, today, much to my horror (ok, not really horror, but certainly surprise), my cupholder was, indeed, tilted. Here's photographic proof.
  4. Umm, that looks tilted to me. This myth is busted.
  5. The Twins have a hard time beating AL East teams. Well, at least for this one particular AL East team for this one particular series, it ain't so. The Twins sure looked good -- for game 1 and 3 anyway. Game 2 was a little sloppy (11 men left base?!), and Slowey and Crain were kind of shaky, but it wasn't totally depressing. I'd say this series was a success. This myth is busted.
  6. Jason Kubel has bad knees, is slow, and has no defense. Did you see his baserunning today? Did you see that great catch in left? I think he's all right. This myth is busted.
  7. We should be worried about Jose Mijares. I watched him today, and I wasn't impressed. I don't know if it's his eyes (he's battling some kind of eye problem that causes blurred vision), his control, his confidence, or what, but he didn't look good. He gave up a couple of hits, and he wasn't at all dominating. Of his five appearances, I've only been satisfied with two of them. This myth is confirmed.
  8. Joe Mauer is perfect. Nope. He 0-fer'ed today. So, he's merely super-human. This myth is busted, but not badly.
Apparently, Metro Transit heard my complaints (and probably other people's too) about the commuter line, because they sent me the following email Friday afternoon:

Schedules for the Northstar Commuter Rail Line will change this Saturday (April 17). Based on current ridership patterns and customer requests, Metro Transit will adjust the departure times for all weekend service, all weekday morning service into Minneapolis and most northbound weekday trips.

The weekday schedules will better match actual travel times, saving several minutes in each direction. Visit Metro Transit's web site for the new schedule details. Connecting bus routes 20 and 811 will be adjusted to meet the new train times.

The change alleviates the 10 p.m. train, which had limited ridership, and is replaced by a 7 p.m. departure. The weekend schedules also will allow earlier arrivals in downtown Minneapolis for Minnesota Twins games at Target Field. Northstar will serve 53 of the Twins' 81 home games this season. Visit Metro Transit's web site for a list of games served by the Northstar Line.

During the Twins opener this week, the Northstar line was a big winner. Ridership grew from 501 for the first game train on Monday to 2,055 on Thursday. What this says to me is people are accepting commuter rail as an economical and desirable way to move.

If you have questions or comments about the new Northstar schedules, service to Target Field or other operations between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis, please use the online customer comment form at or call Metro Transit customer service at 612-373-3333.

Thank you for riding Northstar - or if you haven't ridden yet, give Northstar a try for a relaxing, convenient and safe ride.

Dan Erhart
NCDA Board Chair

PS. Also starting on Saturday, Family Passes will extend eligible ages to 6 - 17 years old.
So, it's good to know that they're trying to solve the problems. We'll see. I'm really happy about the Family Pass thing, because now it works for me.

And, many thanks to haasertime, who provided this link to a Star Tribune article about it in the comments.


CapitalBabs said...

Mijo's weird eye problem was actually explained a couple days ago - he has cataracts. He'll get surgery on them at the end of the season apparently.

Jason Kubel DOES have bad knees but it's not like it's a debilitating illness. He is slower than several other guys we have fielding - including Delmon - but he's faster than Thome! Oh, and his Defense is definitely acceptable - for a DH - but not for any everyday OF.

All the rest? yeah, exactly, and I can verify that even the pricey sections still have tilted cup holders.

Topper said...

The DoT will definitely figure out that transportation issue overtime. Whenever you leave a Yankee game you feel like a mob of sheep being coralled several blocks into an endless line of steel tubes which get so crowded you can barely breathe. BUT, it goes pretty fast because they've had enough time to figure out how many cars they need running and how often. DoT will adapt to Target Field in time!

JimCrikket said...

It looks to me like you've figured out how to deal with those pesky tilted cupholders... buy beer in bottles!

I personally subscribe to the "chug half your beer immediately" solution (and the tilted cupholder makes beer chugging explainable, if not quite socially acceptable), but to each his/her own!

Betsy said...

Kubel just has a fridge he pulls behind him (and Thome a freight train)...the fridge helps Kubel out sometime by knocking him over! :)

Love the myth busting!!

Baseball_Lipgloss said...

The commuting option is a joke. They keep saying how easy it is to get to and from the game. They also keep drilling in our heads to:

"Plan on arriving early and staying late! Make it a fun day!"

Well, I have 20 games to go to...that is just not feasible.

Also, the Hiawatha Line is horrible to commute with also. It is so packed and uncomfortable and it won't get better. It was always bad at the Metrodome too so I don't think they will "work their kinks out". I am just planning on sucking it up and risking the Ghetto #5 for games.

k-bro said...

Babs and Betsy,
Ok, I admit, I was being silly about Kubes. I really don't believe he has any kind of blazing speed. But that play he made in left was pretty sweet.

As far as Mijares's eyes, yeah, I thought I'd read about cataracts somewhere, but I couldn't remember where, and I think the writer was guessing that he had cataracts. So I just wasn't sure, and I didn't want to speak out of turn regarding a player's health.

Topper and Jen (Baseball_lipgloss),
I really don't know what Metro Transit can do about the commuting. I've been to Chicago after a Cubs game and felt all hearded like a mob of sheep trying to get to the El, but at least the mob kept moving and didn't have to wait a half hour for the next train. They were probably 5 minutes apart.

As far as the commuter trains, I think they can add more cars to the trains, but I don't think they can add any trains. The commuter line shares the tracks with the BN freight trains, so scheduling may be an issue. I don't know what they can do. All I know is that for now, I'm driving, which isn't very green, but it's all I can do.

While your theory is a good one, it does have a little flaw. Try this next time you go to a ballgame: First, buy the sausage-on-a-bun sandwich (hot dog, brat, Polish, etc.) of your choice. Put condiments of your choice on it; the messier, the better. Carry it in your right hand. Remember that you're wearing your new, expensive, ivory jersey and imagine having to get mustard stains out of it. Grab a bunch of napkins with your left hand. Remember that you promised to buy some peanuts for someone in your party. Tuck the napkins under your chin and carry the peanuts in your left hand. Discover that you're thirsty and a cold beer sounds really good. Carry the peanut bag in your teeth and grab the beer with your left hand. Walk back to your seat, realize that it's an interesting moment of the game and that the folks sitting behind you want you to sit NOW. If only you could just set that beer down without losing any of it...

haasertime said...

Sounds like they heard your complaints about north star. [click my name]