The following is not a Guide entry, because I am still sifting through my notes on how one should best fully experience Target Field in Minneapolis. That said, Eric suggested that we could always use more context regarding Clayton Kershaw’s not-perfect game, and I am happy to oblige. #JuniorCircuit
It is actually hard to come up with an introduction for the season when you are soaking wet in the cold in the driving rain. I think I managed though. If I have a gripe about Target Field, it can be a bit of a maze to navigate.
The running gag is that this trip was supposed to happen in July 2020. For obvious reasons, it did not occur. There are times I wonder what my life would be like if the pandemic was adequately and competently addressed. This statement is not a political one, but rather an acknowledgment that a downplaying of the worst respiratory pandemic of the past hundred years was likely unwise, at best, and immoral, at worst. However, throughout all of that strife, I have not forgotten for an instant how ridiculously fortunate I was and am. But for all that was lost, time marches on. And it is up to us to make the most of it.
Now, let’s discuss the folly of going to ballgames in Minneapolis in April!
I kid, I kid. Per my tour guide, on a tour filled with Dodgers fans, which was basically the theme of the trip - Dodger fans everywhere being shown around by Twins’ ushers. Apparently, there was a clamor in the fanbase to not have a domed stadium after the Metrodome. Personally, if the stadium were more like Miller Park/American Life Field, you could have the best of both worlds, but admittedly, the park is situated on eight acres of land, so you work with what you have.
I made a point to sign up for the VIP Tour while visiting Target Field. One point of interest that I happily share is the wonderful customer service I encountered at Target Field. The VIP Tour is their most expensive tour and is limited to only ten folks per slot on specific game days. My particular group was a nine-family member group who had been to 24 (!) different ballparks...and me (and Adric). That said, it was nice to walk the field, even though it was nearing freezing with a light wind and rain.
Admittedly, I kept the writing gig (and lawyer job) under wraps as I enjoyed the tour. I was pleasantly surprised in a lot of ways by Target Field. And saw a lot of interesting parts of the stadium. If you want an abridged version of what I saw, please click on the provided link.
As for the games themselves, I was fortunate enough to be at both games and both Dodger victories. I had been watching the forecast for these games for about a month. I knew that the evening game was the one that was most likely to be affected by rain, most likely by 9 pm local time.
In the interim, after twelve hours of travel and one delightful tour, I was finally rewarded in being able to witness some Dodgers baseball.
On April 12, the Dodgers finally started to see Andrew Heaney live up to his potential, and Freddie Freeman benefited from some suspect defense for a bloop double.
After getting yelled at for using my tripod, I relocated and found someplace warmer to watch the Dodgers blow the game open. Eventually, the weather turned from cold and windy to a torrential downpour, so I wisely left.
However, the storms of the 12th are not why you clicked on this article. On April 13, 2022, the Dodgers romped to a 7-0 victory. While the Dodgers got started early with two quick runs in the first inning, that development masks why you’re here.
So let’s talk about Clayton Kershaw. I was sitting adjacent to the Delta Club in Section M, Row 1, Seat 12. It was nice to have someplace warm to retreat to if the conditions worsened.
As folks may or may not remember, I was present for Walker Buehler’s almost no-hitter last year in Arizona. This outing had an entirely different energy from that start or the most dominant Kershaw start that I was present for back in 2013. What stood out most about Kershaw in this start was just the pace of pitching - he was pitching like he had a flight to catch, no dilly-dallying, just rock, fire, repeat.
Honestly, Kershaw’s perfection just snuck up on me. I took it upon myself to live tweet the game as, frankly, I am not a fan of the new comment system as I find that it is virtually unusable when trying to participate in a game thread. And along those lines, I find the algorithms that direct you to content to be quite fickle as the above Turner single video got around 2000 views on Twitter, which is absurd to me. Whereas, the above Kershaw video has yet to be viewed on YouTube, a seven-second clip where I am showing where the organist at Target Field has 1500 views. The internet is weird - that’s the main takeaway. Meanwhile, Kershaw kept chugging along.
In that seventh inning though, you could tell Kershaw was starting to tire. Moreover, his slider was losing some of its bite and he was actually getting to three-ball counts. Most of the Twins fans near me were hoping they were going to see something special today. Personally, you never know what you are going to see when you go to the ballpark. I was just thoroughly enjoying the fact if only for an afternoon, I was getting wily-veteran Kershaw rather than punching-bag Kershaw that I had the rotten luck to see last year.
What stood out to me was how utterly relaxed Kershaw appeared to be on the mound. Based on his body language on the mound, you would think Kershaw was nursing a three-run lead on a Wednesday afternoon. You would never know that Kershaw was chasing after perfection. Gavin Lux had a hand in that, too.
When I saw Alex Vesia warming in the bullpen, I was a little sad that Kershaw’s day was likely done. And then Bellinger, Lux, and Barnes went back-to-back-to-back, which is something that I had not seen before. Vesia was vehemently booed by the crowd when he entered the game, which wasn’t fair.
Needless to say, Vesia got one out before a clean single broke up the perfecto. The rest of the game passed without much incident, including a Max Muncy bomb, before Justin Bruihl put the game to bed.
It was a great experience and a very pleasant change of pace compared to my first trip last year. Next up is a field report from Philadelphia after May 21 and 22 and Washington, D.C. after May 23. See you then!