IT MAY BE A SHITHOLE, BUT IT'S OUR SHITHOLE: ESPN.com's summer-long roundup of all 30 major league ballparks reaches Minneapolis and the Metrodome this week, and reporter Jim Caple manages to do justice to the stadium that essentially introduced me to major league baseball. Caple even ranks it above four other parks- although two of them (Philadelphia and San Diego) are about to be replaced and a third (Montreal) could go at any time.
All in all, Caple sums up my feelings perfectly: the Metrodome is by all accounts a substandard, obsolete, borderline-un-American baseball facility: it has a roof, artificial turf, and horrible sightlines, produces laughably low amounts of revenue, and thanks to the roof it's next to impossible to follow the paths of batted balls, whether you're a spectator or an outfielder. And in contrast to the hoppin' Target Center area, the stadium is in a near-dead section of downtown Minneapolis, and the lack of a central parking lot means there's no tailgating to speak of.
But despite all that, the Dome does have quite a few things going for it- when filled to capacity, it's the loudest park in baseball by far. Playing there gives the Twins an immense home-field advantage; prior to last year's ALCS they were next to unbeatable in Dome postseason play. The place is packed with history, including two world championships in five years that I was on hand for. And, as Caple briefly touches on, it's actually a halfway decent football stadium- indoor football being not nearly as sacreligious as indoor baseball.
One by one, Caple does through the charming aspects of Domeball- the "Hefty Bag" in right. Announcer Bob Casey. Wally the Beerman, the kind of "local celebrity" who just doesn't exist in New York. Ushers that are "like an entire staff of Marge Gundersons" (I always though the ushers were assholes, but maybe that's changed). And the "We're Gonna Win Twins" jingle, the best in baseball by far. What, you prefer "Meet the Mets"?
Don't get me wrong- I've been hoping and praying for a new open-air ballpark in the Twin Cities for the better part of a decade, and once the jackass politicians finally get their shit together, I'll be the first one cheering. But I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't miss the Homerdome just a little bit. "Some of the happiest moments of my life happened there," Caple writes. That's right, Jim. Mine too.