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We just watched the MLB All-Star Game at Target Field. It feels a little like a blur because we’re working off of fumes. It also feels like a blur because, really? The All-Star Game was HERE?
It was. We’re pretty sure. And we’re pretty sure we saw these things happen:
1) An unforgettable top of the first inning. Derek Jeter leads off with a double. Adam Wainwright grooved the pitch. Don’t let him backtrack and say anything different. He was giving Jeets something to hit because he thought he deserved it. That was not a joke. It made for a bad bit of baseball in a game that means something, but it also made for great theater and a great moment. Mike Trout followed with a triple. Miguel Cabrera homered. We’re pretty sure Wainwright was trying to get them out, and he couldn’t. It was an electric first inning.
2) Jeter blooped another hit in his second at bat — this after another ovation before he batted. He left the game to a grand display with the AL in the field. Another long ovation. So he went 2-for-2, almost made the defensive play of the game on the NL’s first batter of the game, and finished his All-Star career 13 for 27 (.481). Remarkable.
3) If the Jeter stuff felt scripted at the start, the finish was equally Hollywood-esque. Glen Perkins, the Minnesota native, the former Gopher, the Twins closer … came on for a perfect ninth inning, throwing to Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki.
Come on. Really? Games with so much hype so often wind up as duds. This one had real moments, from start to finish. This happened here. We were here to see it. Minneapolis did well.
Now let’s all go to sleep with a smile (after the 4 a.m. bar close, that is).
It’s been a long day already, and it’s only just begun. Here are a few of our favorite snap shots from along the way:
1) We started out at the IDS building in Minneapolis, where former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Hanunen, announced they planned to sue the Vikings if the team does not release results of an investigation into Kluwe’s claims. You’ll note that Kluwe is wearing a “Punters are people, too” t-shirt.
2) Next we hit up the Red Carpet parade, featured All-Stars and also mascots rolling down Nicollet Mall before making their way to Target Field. Before it started, though, we saw three police officers, including Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, posing for a selfie.
3) And finally, we headed over toward Target Field, an route we encountered the largest game of beanbag toss we have ever seen.
(OK, if you must know, we also stopped for a burrito bowl in between. Sadly, no picture exists of that).
Don’t forget: select bars are open until 4 a.m. tonight, and it’s been a long three days. … If you see anyone from the Star Tribune out late, and they’re tipping back a drink or two, don’t criticize them. In the words of Clinton Portis, just say it was a young guy livin’.
Where to start?
When Minneapolis trots out a major event, apparently we can’t help but use the national spotlight to REALLY make an impression.
It’s not enough to just have the All-Star Game festivities. We need acts of nature, loud noises and a national story igniting in the middle of it all again. Let’s get to it:
1) The rain delay at the Home Run Derby: Writers and fans groused on Twitter about rain — rain! — as if Minnesota has a premium on it. They wondered loudly why this new stadium of ours doesn’t have a roof. Folks: Nostalgia aside, the Metrodome was a dump. So let’s not wish for those days. Retractable roof? Wouldn’t have worked on Target Field for the size, and we will reiterate that we’ve only been to one retractable roof ballpark we actually like (Safeco in Seattle). Every other retractable roof ballpark — particularly Miller Park in Milwaukee — makes us feel like we are watching baseball in a giant airplane hangar. We’ll take an hour rain delay if it means we get outdoor baseball and incredible rainbows. 100 times out of 100.
2) The derby itself? A lot of fun … but a lot drawn out, too. The actual competition took almost three hours. It should be two. There is one round too many now. Let’s go back to simplifying this thing: Four players from each league, the top player from each league after the first round goes to the finals, and then it’s done. Yes, it might seem silly to argue about the format for a made-up event, but we could sense even the throng at Target Field getting a little bored last night.
3) Fireworks after midnight? The fireworks show at the post-derby Gala down by the river left plenty of locals grumpy. We witnessed the display, and the grand finale was not done until after 12:30 a.m. Is that OK? Well, this is a once-a-generation special event. But it was also a week night preceding a work day for the countless people who do not care one bit about the All Star Game.
4) Chris Kluwe is having a news conference at 11 a.m. to talk about his assertion that the Vikings are reneging on a promise to release their report into his allegations of homophobia within the organization. We’re not sure which side is driving the timing on this thing, but it will become even more of a national story with all the media in town for the All-Star Game.
5) If that wasn’t enough, remember that 31 establishments in downtown Minneapolis are open until 4 a.m. tonight. Things have gotten crazy. They might just get crazier.
Player availability for All-Stars begins at 12:45 p.m. this afternoon. We’re staking out our claim as we speak, but we also have plans today to see how self-serve beer is working at Target Field … and perhaps see Bert Blyleven get a pie in the face at Darby’s around 4 p.m. … and hopefully catch our breath in time to produce yet more video from the Home Run Derby tonight.
This is not a complaint. This will all be fun, and we’re lucky to do what we do.
To start the day, we met our pal Diddy — not THE Diddy, just a friend we call Diddy — over at Fan Fest. We’re two guys with young kids, so having a chance to make our worlds collide, albeit briefly, is great.
We took a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame artifacts, listened in on Andre Dawson entertaining a crowd and just generally strolled the vast space.
The thing we were struck by the most — and a thing that always strikes us when we see it — was the line for autographs whenever an opportunity presented itself.
There were people waiting to swing bats or test the speed of their pitches, but the most consistently long lines were for signatures.
We’ve never totally understood the appeal of the autograph. Is it merely a keepsake from meeting a hero? Is it a contest to see how many you can accumulate for a collection? Is it with the hope that they will be worth money?
We’re not mocking it. We really want to know. If you are an autograph-hound, please tell us your motivations in the comments.
After the final out was recorded in Sunday’s Legends and Celebrities softball game at Target Field — and yes, the final out came when rapper/TV personality Sway was caught in a rundown — players mingled on the field while fireworks blasted overhead.
Fans dangled pens, hoping for autographs. Look one way and you saw Dwight Gooden. Look another way and you saw Andrew Zimmern.
Mad Men’s January Jones sidled up to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with her smart phone in hand. Even celebrities can be starstruck around celebrities; she wanted a picture with AP, and she wasn’t about to leave empty-handed.
“It’s cool. It’s humbling,” Peterson said later, when asked about being asked by Jones for a picture. “It makes you realize the position you’re in. I really don’t take in the celebrity status I have. When people want to take a picture or want an autograph, it brings me back to, ‘wow, you’ve really been blessed.’”
That was the theme of the afternoon and evening: celebrities in awe of each other. Actor Rob Riggle (we remember him best as the over-aggressive police officer in The Hangover) gushed about having a locker next to Rollie Fingers.
Wild forward Zach Parise, himself one of the most recognizable names and faces in Twin Cities sports, said he was really looking forward to meeting Peterson. He also loved seeing other stars from the baseball world that he grew up admiring.
“You’re so used to being around hockey players,” Parise said. “To see legends from these other sports, I’m still a fan of a lot of them. Rickey Henderson, Jack Morris, (John) Smoltz. I was a fan growing up, so it’s fun to be around them.”
Even Peterson, one of the biggest stars in all of sports, seemed thrilled to get some tips from Rickey Henderson.
“Mr. Henderson, he gave me some pointers and whatnot, so I was able to take a couple of those from him,” Peterson said. “But it didn’t show when I was up to bat.”
Indeed, Peterson grounded out to third, twice — a position manned by Nelly. What a strange, surreal, celebrity scene.
|Los Angeles - J. Beckett||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - V. Worley|
|San Francisco - Y. Petit||6:05 PM|
|Philadelphia - R. Hernandez|
|Texas - N. Martinez||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - C. Whitley|
|Boston - J. Peavy||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - J. Happ|
|Miami - J. Turner||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - M. Minor|
|San Diego - E. Stults||7:05 PM|
|Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks|
|Cincinnati - H. Bailey||7:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - J. Nelson|
|Cleveland - D. Salazar||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - Y. Pino|
|Kansas City - B. Chen||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - S. Carroll|
|Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi||7:15 PM|
|St. Louis - A. Wainwright|
|Washington - J. Zimmermann||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - Y. Flande|
|Detroit - R. Porcello||8:40 PM|
|Arizona - C. Anderson|
|Houston - B. Oberholtzer||9:05 PM|
|Oakland - S. Kazmir|
|Baltimore - M. Gonzalez||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - H. Santiago|
|NY Mets - J. deGrom||9:10 PM|
|Seattle - E. Ramirez|
|Calgary||7/24/14 8:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||7/25/14 9:00 PM|
|Ottawa||7/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||7/26/14 9:00 PM|