Winning Road Trip!
After a winning opening homestand, the Royals kept the good times rolling with a winning first road trip of the year. Was the weather dicey at times? Yes, but April in Detroit and Minneapolis is supposed to be a little tricky. And I’ll take a winning record up against those two tough teams in any weather…
Upon arrival early in the morning for the Tigers home opener the image through the bus window was not an inviting one. For the Royals it was the second Opening Day (having opened the season at home vs. LA). For the Motor City Kitties, it was their third opener (at the Yankees and at Baltimore). Opening days are always festive and fun, whether you’re home or the visitors. The hardy Michiganders didn’t let the cold and rain bother them much, as there was plenty of tailgating all around the ballpark.
Flash forward several hours and despite 43 degree temps, we were rain-free and ready to get the home opener underway. As is the case in every Major League city, Opening Day is a big deal here. Among the ceremonies for this years opener, the Tigers honored the late Sparky Anderson, who as manager led them to the 1984 World Series title. He passed away last November. Sparky was a marvelous person and was the first manager to win a title in both leagues (something Tony LaRussa has since also accomplished). Sparky also led the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati to championships in 1975 and 76. He was always quick to defer all credit to the players. The games in Detroit were exciting, and after losing the first one, the Royals bounced back and won games 2 and 3 to take the series.
After Detroit, it was on to Minneapolis, where the Twins are now an outdoor team. We had a day off in the Twin Cities, and as I walked all around downtown the Minnesotans were enjoying unseasonably warm weather. One thing about folks in the North Country, they don’t miss any opportunity to get outside when the weather cooperates. Minneapolis has a very inviting downtown, with plenty of shopping and dining.
As I explored downtown I walked by the Metrodome, but before that I passed by the old Minneapolis Armory. This building is just a couple of blocks away from the Twins former home. Built in the 1930′s, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the 30′s through the 70′s it was used for political conventions, concerts and even the old Minneapolis Lakers played some home games here, including all of their games during the 1959-60 season. A native of Minneapolis, Prince, used this building to film the music video “1999″ back in the 80′s. It’s now mainly used as a parking garage, but at least they were able to save this great old building from the wrecking ball.
The Metrodome (now known as Mall of America Field) is now the exclusive home of the Vikings. The Twins won the “good timing” award, opening Target Field just last season, so that when the roof collapsed it didn’t have much of an effect on them (other than causing them to move their Winter Fanfest to the suburbs. They had planned on having it in the dome). Looks different without that puffy white roof above it. The Vikings are still hoping to play there next season (if there is a next season). Repair work continues…
Right in the heart of the downtown shopping district Mary Richards (the statue saluting Mary Tyler Moore’s character from the 70′s sitcom) is always there smiling and ready to throw her hat. If you haven’t been to Minneapolis lately you’d enjoy it (especially in summer)….and especially with the new ballpark that opened in 2010.
Speaking of Target Field, it has proved to be a spectacular new home for the Twins. I highly recommend a visit. They lived a charmed life in terms of weather in year one last season (no rainouts, one rain delay, mild weather in April). It’s proved to be a pitcher-friendly ballpark too. The ball just doesn’t carry that well, as Joe Mauer’s ONE 2010 Target Field will attest. But think about a trip up I-35 when the Royals go there, you’ll enjoy it. The Royals split their 2 games in Minnesota, finishing their first road trip 3-2.