The questions will be presented throughout the Twin Cities today with near seismic repetition: "Were you there?"
Target Field opened with aplomb on Monday as the Twins christened Major LeagueBaseball's newest cathedral with a 5-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, improving to 6-2 on the young season. Carl Pavano pitched six solid innings of four hit ball to improve to 2-0, while Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel collected three hit apiece. Kubel's seventh inning home run (his second of the year) put the Twins ahead 5-1, while Mauer upped his average to .423. Closer Jon Rauch hurled a nine pitch ninth to earn his MLB-best fifth save in five chances.
For those fortunate enough to own, inherit or scalp a ticket (I picked up mine for what proved a "cheap" $120 on the street), the Twins' return to outdoor baseball after 28 seasons indoors meshed a snapshot of a club every bit poised to return to the postseason, with the callow and/or intoxicating wonder of baseball fans primed for sunglasses and ample exploration of stimuli both foreign (sky) and familiar (booze).
The Twins organization should be readily lauded for orchestrating a powerful pre-game ceremony. Replete with an F-16 flyover formation, an on-field gathering of Twins retired numberees (Kirby Puckett, Jr. stood in for his father), and a goose-bumping video montage -- club suits met lofty expectations of the gathering throngs, some of whom were buying scalped tickets for as much as $500 a block from the park
On a near-idyllic day where the hardball Gods warded threats of potential late-inning showers, fans' necks continually craned, cameras ubiquitously flashed and pointed fingers perenniallypointed throughout the new environs. Myriad fans no doubt used their tickets to explore the fresh terrain in lieu of spending the day in assigned seats. Such survey will surely be the case this season (and likely next) as visitors acclimate themselves to the contemporary confines. Truly: Target Field is a peach of a ballpark. And while the Twins new home may prove utilitarian within the concourse areas, the continuous sightlines throughout the park are fantastic and the field itself is exceptional in player/fan proximity and cosmetic appeal.
A palpable buzz moved through this compact space on Monday, a tangible fervor that will echo throughout the season even should the Twins fail to meet on-field expectations. When TCF Bank Stadium (like Target Field, a Populous design), opened in the fall, something of campus carnival vibed our T.C. The opening of Target Field was different: this was a communal colossus that painted our state anew and gripped Minneapolis is a rare frenzy. While it was all-too-apparent that some employed the moment as an opportunity to get sloppy drunk in mid-day (in the second inning, some crazy-sauced dude berated a nice guy donning a Red Sox cap in the seat before mine and then took issue with my own apparel) -- that's to be expected when 40,000 people get together for a good time. More importantly: the entire Twins' machine -- from front office to the players to the ticket takers -- put on an exceptional show that created a memory in the structure that will house our boys through the generations, immortally forming that question, "Were you there?"
It's gonna be a long, hot, beautiful summer.