Getting to the Twins game felt like heading to any other MLB game – train full of fans: families, teenagers, businessmen – all decked out in the gear for the home team, with the occasional fan of the away team (a much higher percentage when the Red Sox are involved). We stepped out in front of the Metrodome on a gorgeously sunny day. What a perfect afternoon for baseball!
The Metrodome is indoors. How I forgot, or didn’t know this, until a few days before the game makes me very aware of my lack of baseball stadium knowledge. How needed the road trip feels now!
Our general admission seats leave us in the outfield. We feel at once very far from the action in the large stadium, but also extremely close. We are all under one roof. The sounds echo off the fabric. Is that a real organ playing? How cute!
Twins fans are quite focused. Many keeping score. Singing every word of the fight song. Boston fans rival Twins fans in volume at this business person’s special. The reserved section next to us is empty, yet the ushers enforce the ticketing rules.
The game goes by uneventfully, with the only 3 runs (2 for Boston, 1 for Minnesota) being solo home runs by the middle of the top of the 7th.
Boston sends a runner home. Everyone in the Metrodome stands. My view of the plate is blocked. The ball is thrown from right field and caught. Fans erupt for an out. But no. The umpire calls the runner safe. The catcher gets up and into the face of the Ump. Who knows what was said? In a millisecond, the umpire points his thumb to the white fabric between us and the sky. The catcher is ejected.
As any good manager would, the Twins’ skipper comes from the dugout to protest. As Aaron rightfully points out, no argument has ever ended not in the umpire’s favor. This is the game. It is not a democracy. The umpire ejects the manager. Boos ensue. Oh! Twins fans DO have booing in them. How comforting! No music plays or announcements made to explain what is happening. Mauer, who has been the DH for the Twins appears quickly in full gear behind the plate. We continue, 3-1 Red Sox.
Now, the bottom of the 7th. Jason Varitek behind home plate, where he has been the whole game except for when hitting 2 solo homers. At some point, a pitch he sees as a strike gets called a ball. He has not learned his lesson from the first half of the inning.
He gets up and protests to the umpire. Without a beat, the umpire calls him out of the game. The ump obviously has no qualms about this action at this point. So why would the Red Sox manager rush out of the dugout feeling invincible? Now, the loudspeaker gets involved and plays some rousing music. And just like that, the 4th person of the 7th inning walks back to the clubhouse.
No one else scores this game. Who would even be in charge of calling the shots? Are the managers now outside enjoying the sun? Maybe watching replays on their iPhones or enjoying a beer? Imagining what it will be like in 51 more home games when finally Twin Cities fans can have baseball with wind and rain and sunglasses. When the unpredictability of the game will be enhanced by the elements and not just a power hungry home plate umpire and the catchers and managers who dare to defy him.