As this is a baseball-centric blog, I’ll start it off with the baseball-related news…
Or should I “save the best for last”?…
Hmmm, a conundrum of sorts… In times like these I ask myself, “What would Mateo do?” OK, OK, maybe I do not go that far, but what a great opportunity for a segue (this is a segue, right?)…
By coincidence (not much of one, as Mateo is not only a U of MN student, but a fellow sports fan), both Mateo and I were at both events – the Hockey City Classic and TwinsFest. Fine, I’ll stick to chronology and start with hockey and end with baseball.
Hockey City Classic
Women’s Game: Minnesota State – Mankato vs. University of Minnesota
Men’s Game: Ohio State University vs. University of Minnesota
For the first time in “more than 80 years”, the University of Minnesota hockey team(s) played an outdoor game in Minnesota… and the weather could not have been more fitting. Do not get me wrong, it was not pleasant weather, just typical “January in MN” type weather – we had a bit of flurry action and temps were plummeting as night came near (high of 13, low of 1, and wind-chills well below zero).
When I arrived at TCF Stadium, some 20-odd minutes before the drop of the puck for the women’s game, here is what I saw:
After looking around for a little bit, I headed over to where the players were to come out, and this was the view:
…and in between periods:
There is something awesome about seeing a goalie with their helmet on with a winter cap on top. I think that very nuance is the reason why I love outdoor hockey games.
Due to the cold weather and massive hunger, we took advantage of the “unlimited re-entry” policy by hitting up a campus-wide loved pizza place. Now, if you follow me on twitter or are close to me, you may know that I recently took up being vegan – don;t worry, I will not be preaching about it here. So, how does a vegan eat at a pizza place? Well, in the Twin Cities, you do it quite easily and in style. Mesa Pizza (the place we hit up and pictured below) and another well-known Minneapolis pizza place, Pizza Lucé, both serve a mean vegan ‘za.
So whether you are vegan or not, the next time you are on the U of MN campus, hit up Mesa Pizza. They have all your normal favorites as well as pizzas called Mac and Cheese, SW Beans, Guacamole Burrito, Charles Broccoli, Tortellini Pesto, and the Southern Gentleman to name a few.
After filling our bellies (that is Jared, my Opening Day yin to my yang, blurred in the Mesa Pizza photo above) we headed back to see the men take their stab at outdoor hockey.
That’s how close we were to the players as they came out of the tunnel.
…and that was the celebration after the first, and only goal of the game. Yes, the Gophers (U of MN) won 1-0. You’d think I’d be happy about that, since I’m Minnesotan and all, but I couldn’t care less. I graduated from St. Cloud State University, a major rival to the U of MN hockey team, so I actually root against them as much as possible. Even though the Gophers won, the night was still fun – it was my second time at TCF Bank Stadium and I still haven’t been to the venue for the reason why it was built (Golden Gopher football).
When I returned home (late)< I went to the mailbox and found the following:
Why is this so important to me? It is because I collect all of the ticket stubs from games that I attend and for some reason I did not have one from this game – only my StubHub printed ticket. But again, why would missing a ticket from one game bother me so much? Check out this entry. See why this might eat at me?
***Disclaimer: I will eventually get around to making a very short video of Target Field in the snow, since TwinsFest showcased this very nicely. But in the meantime, enjoy the words and photos. Plus, it sounds like a very sweet, in-depth video may be created by the duo of Mateo and Paul.***
Upon entering, my first area that I hoped to hit up was the Twins Yard Sale. This was the first time that the team had ever done one of these and the promise of cheap prices on game used stuff was enticing… but the lack of familiarity with the new layout of all the exhibits lead me to this instead:
As much as I was in a hurry to get to the Yard Sale, seeing a Silver Slugger (or two) will always lead to a quick photo op. After seeing a few of the cool items, I made my way over to the Yard Sale where I…
…Sorry, cannot tell you yet. I’ll save the purchases for last.
So after I dropped the only money I would spend at TwinsFest, I wandered around with Paul for a while – stopping by the Trevor Plouffe autograph area and quickly saying hello (it’s cool when a player remembers you). As I said before, the new layout/venue proved to be confusing (due to old habits), but it was kind of fun wandering and just trying to take in all of the activities. For some reason, it felt like the players were doing more “things” with the fans this year, especially if you were a youngster. Like this:
That is Josh Willingham playing “Base-Bowling” with the little ones. And in the other picture there was a “guess your speed” booth and pop-a-shot. I have seen, from the Twins’ twitter feed, that the players also participated by playing pop-a-shot with some kids and interacting with fans in numerous areas OTHER than the autograph lines.
The last group of photos I have to share with you is of the field itself, shown in a light not commonly seen:
Yes, that is snow on the field (kind of obvious and expected) as well as flying in the sky. We received a quick couple of inches which made the view of the new venue pretty special. In a way, it kind of reminded me of a game not too long ago…
Then, as I made my trek back to my vehicle, I decided to take a look at “my gate”:
What a strange and oddly peaceful sight; the Pohlads keeping each other warm on a quiet, snowy night in downtown Minneapolis, while thousands of people inside the building behind them dream and long for warmer weather and baseball to begin.
OK, OK, I’ll show you what I found at the Yard Sale now. Geez, no need to whine! Did you actually think that I was going to go through all of this without showing you the cool things I added to my future mancave?!
Sure, it’s somewhat strange, but how many people have the sign that lists the food offerings of their home-team’s ballpark? This just screams mancave coolness.
This photo doe snot do this justice. While it is a cool photo of Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee, what you cannot see is the size and what it is made from – a thick sheet of plexiglass that is roughly 3 feet by 2.25 feet. Oh, it’s also opaque and when the sun shines behind it (or any bright light), it looks like it glows.
This was the main event, the “big ticket”… and it was only $25! What I have here is a Mothers’ Day chest protector that was one of the Twins’ very own. Ryan Doumit was the catcher that day (remember? I was there), so it may very well be his. I figured that something this rare was cool enough, and at that price?! Madness. You cannot buy a chest protector like that (brand new, which this item basically is) for $25, let alone one that was owned by a pro athlete.