Baseball fans unit against the Metrodome
October 11, 2002
Sorry, West Coast fans, but I’m hoping for a Midwest World Series between the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals.
I’m a Cardinals fan, so I’m obviously rooting for them. But why the Twins? Because I’m carrying a grudge from 1987.
The Cardinals lost to the Twins that year, and I’m still miffed.
Maybe it’s not quite as fresh in your memory as it is in mine. Although 1987 doesn’t seem like so long ago, it’s a lifetime in baseball. Mark McGwire, for example, won Rookie of the Year in 1987 when he hit 49 home runs.
So let’s go to The Sporting News archives for a reminder of the key factor in the World Series that year:
“The site in ’87 was the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, a baseball purist’s nightmare with its Teflon roof, lighting and acoustical problems, artificial turf and trash-can lining serving as a right-field wall. Yes, for the first time, World Series games were to be played indoors.”
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Ah, yes. Indoor baseball.
The Astrodome predated it, but the Metrodome came to represent in my mind the epitome of what is wrong with playing baseball indoors.
I can still picture Willie McGee, the St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder in the ’80s, searching vainly for flyballs against the backdrop of that pure-white, reflective Teflon ceiling.
I also remember being convinced the Metrodome staff was turning on the air-conditioning while the Twins were at bat, giving them a nice stiff air current toward the outfield fences, and switching it off when the Cardinals came to the plate.
The Twins won their division that year by compiling the best home record in the league. They also had one of the worst records away from the Metrodome.
“They have a very good team — in their ballpark,” said Whitey Herzog, who was Cardinals manager at the time.
Yes, I am one of those baseball purists.
Indoor baseball? Violates the rules of nature. Designated hitter? You might as well play 10-man softball. Astroturf? If cows can’t eat it, you shouldn’t play baseball on it.
I don’t want you to think I’m a baseball fanatic, but I possess a half-empty pouch of Whitey Herzog’s chewing tobacco swiped for me by sportswriter Dennis Taylor a dozen years ago from a spring-training dugout. (I would argue that actually makes Taylor the fanatic.)
My dog is named for Ozzie Smith.
And, yes, I belong to a fantasy baseball league. For 18 years.
I cling to the notion that baseball is life. If that makes me old-fashioned, then I’m proud of it.
As proof, however, I’m willing to offer up some of my favorite quotations that happen to be (mostly) about baseball but might just apply elsewhere:
— “We cheer for the Senators, we pray for the Senators, and we hope the Supreme Court doesn’t declare that unconstitutional.” Lyndon B. Johnson, July 1962.
— “I watch a lot of baseball on radio.” Gerald Ford, 1978.
— “Baseball is the very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive and push and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming 19th century.” Mark Twain, 1889.
— “May the sun never set on American baseball.” Harry Truman, 1951 (widely quoted by baseball purists who opposed night baseball.)
— “The best thing about baseball is that you can do something about yesterday tomorrow.” Manny Trillo.
— “Everybody in life gets the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summer and the poor in the winter.” Bat Masterson, sportswriter. (Not exactly about baseball, but it was found in his typewriter after he collapsed of a heart attack and died.)
— “He had the ability of taking a bad situation and making it immediately worse.” Branch Rickey, talking about Leo Durocher.
— “I like going to games with my wife. It is an interesting experience. I also like not going with my wife.” Arnold Hano.
— “If you’re a good loser, you keep on losing.” Paul Richards.
— “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra.
— “Be on time. Bust your butt. Play smart. And have some laughs while you’re at it.” Whitey Herzog.
— “I looked up my family tree and found I was the sap.” — Bugs Baer. (Also not necessarily having anything to do with baseball, but I couldn’t resist.)
— “You must try to generate happiness within yourself. If you aren’t happy in one place, chances are you won’t be happy any place.” Ernie Banks.
I got a million of ’em. That’s enough for now, though. If the Cardinals can’t beat the Giants, then I’ll be rooting for the Giants — because that’s what a National League fan does.
And if the Giants end up playing the Twins, with Barry Bonds coming to the plate four times a game … well, I’ll leave you with this thought from journeyman infielder Wally Backman that pretty much sums up my feelings on the Metrodome:
“If I hit eight home runs there, the place should be condemned. If I don’t, I should be condemned.”
Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.