Off Beat

No Diggity

FOR THOSE WHO saw it on TV or read about it in the paper, last Wednesday's Twins-Yankees game will probably be remembered as the night Minnesota manager Tom Kelly scolded the unruly fans who were hurling more than insults at ex-Twin Chuck Knoblauch. But for the fans who watched from the stands, the Twins' stirring 4-2 victory was memorable for another reason: the godawful lines at the hot dog stands. Woozy with hunger and with nary a roaming vendor in sight, Off Beat spent an hour in the concourse waiting for our wiener before we reached the front of the line. Andy Flodin, who runs Dome concessions for Volume Services America, says the delays were an aberration caused by the confluence of two factors: an unusually large walk-up crowd (the biggest since 1986) and the Twins' Wednesday-night Hormel Dollar a Dog Days special. "On opening night, with 33,000 people in the stands and hot dogs at regular prices, we sold 8,000 hot dogs," notes Flodin. "On Wednesday night, with 36,000 people, we sold 40,000." That's more than one per customer, Flodin points out. "It's hard to produce that many hot dogs in such a short period. I think we did a fantastic job." After he's through patting himself on the back, Flodin allows that his company was caught short-staffed. Expecting a crowd of 25,000, Volume Services only had about 450 workers on hand (about 250 shy of the ideal). Dennis Alfton, director of operations for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, says he and the Twins have been pleased with Volume Services' performance. "Typically you're just looking at a wait of 10 to 15 minutes," Alfton asserts, adding that a portion of that delay is attributable to "limitations" of the Dome's design.

Covering the Chuck Chuck

AND SPEAKING OF weenies, given New York fans' reputation for throwing projectiles at visiting ballplayers, it was a bit amusing last week to read the tone of high dudgeon expressed by the Manhattan media over the stoning of Chuck Knoblauch. (Off Beat has fond memories of the right-field cheap seats at Yankee Stadium. During Bobby Bonilla's first game back in New York City after his sour departure from the Mets, the most popular chant from the bleachers went something like this: "Bobby Bonilla sucks the biggest penis/Bobby Bonilla is a horse's ass.") The Post's George King was the biggest scold, managing to call Twins fans "morons" twice within the same sentence on Thursday and then, for good measure, tacking on one more "moron" in a Friday item that downplayed the chances that Yankee fans might stoop to such odious behavior in the squads' upcoming dustup in the Bronx. The Daily News was only slightly less hectoring, headlining sportswriter Peter Botte's game story "Bombers Yanked Off Field: Maniacs in Minny drive Knob to cover." At the other end of the spectrum, the Gray Lady was practically apologetic for even mentioning the handful of boors (now there's a word for you, George!) who pitched debris at the Knobber: "By and large, the fans here were as gracious as usual, allowing most vociferous Yankees fans their space," noted Times scribe Buster Olney. Thanks, Buster. You moron.

Start Your Engines!

THE WORLD LOOKED bleak to Twin Cities vintage car enthusiasts whose favorite summer pastime was cruising along St. Paul's University Avenue to Porky's drive-in. The flashback to the days when the cars were hot and the malts were cold was endangered after a crackdown by the St. Paul Police Department brought on by complaints about the motorheads' excessive noise, litter, traffic snarls, and parking faux pas. (For background, peruse Leyla Kokmen's story "Is That All, Folks?" in the October 11, 2000 issue.) But with spring has come détente. For the past six months, car lovers Grover Cleveland and Floyd Olson, along with Porky's owners Tryg Truelson and his mother Nora, have toiled to reach a compromise with police. After several heated meetings--and 5,300 signatures' worth of support--Cleveland proclaims that the truce is out there: On Friday and Saturday nights starting May 18, police will allow parking on the south side of University Avenue until 11:00 p.m. The hot rods will be able to drive up and down University between Fairview and Prior avenues, as long as they don't block traffic. A squad car parked on the median opposite Porky's will deter the cruisers from squealing their tires and blasting their music. Porky's has agreed to hire two off-duty officers to patrol its parking lot, where a one-hour parking limit will be enforced to ensure that everyone gets a turn in the drive-in. "We'll see how it works, and if they keep folks moving and don't get complaints from the neighborhood," says St. Paul police spokesman Michael Jordan. Olson is very optimistic. "It took six months and six thousand signatures to get back what we should have," he reflects. "We don't want kids out there screwing it up. It's not a drag strip."