Saturday, April 17, 2010

Those Stairs aren't so Bad.

Occasionally, while vending, I will reach the top of an aisle that I have just been working and hear the following comment from a fan that has just climbed the same steps with me:

“Wow, those stairs are tough.”

It is usually not said directly to me, but to another member of the fans’ group. Of course, the outgoing vendor in me usually pipes in and says, “Aw, they’re not so bad.” Usually the fan looks at me and sees my sweaty condition carrying over 40 lbs. of adult beverages and says, “I don’t know how you guys can do this…”

Hopefully it generates a sale. But if not a sale, maybe it makes them feel like the climb wasn’t so bad.

I’ve probably used the same line about 500 times and almost always gotten the same response,

… until today…

Today, on a beautiful sunny day at Target Field, I had the identical situation.

After reaching the top of section 106, I hear the man behind me say, “Man, those stairs are tough.” I turn around and see the face of a fairly athletic 25 year old and say what I always say, “Aw, they are not so bad.”

Then he said something that I had never heard before… Something completely unexpected. Something that left me completely speechless.

He said…

“They are if you only have 1 leg…”

GULP! I felt an uncomfortable sense of dread that seemed to last forever, and then… I looked down.

Sure enough, this guy had a prosthetic right leg from about mid-thigh.

I was absolutely devastated and thought to myself… OK idiot, how do you get yourself out of this one??????

Thinking quickly, I said, “I bet you get extra thirsty climbing those stairs.” Believe it or not, he gave me something to the effect of the, “Aw… they’re not so bad” line.

I sensed recovery and said if he showed me his ID, I would buy him a beer.

He showed me his Minnesota Driver’s license and it was 8-10-1985. We laughed about the experience, I handed him a Mich Golden Light, told him to be careful on the stairs and we both went on our way.

I saw him again about an inning later and he handed me a couple bucks and said he forgot to tip me earlier. It was nice to know that everything was cool between us. He invited me to stop down later and he would buy a round for his buddies.

It was not surprising when I stopped by later that the group remembered me. I think the story had been told a few times before I got there.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cold WET Beer Here!

Today it rained at Target Field. It felt so strange.

After years of working inside of the always 70 degree climate controlled Metrodome, where the only moisture on my shirt was either my own perspiration or the spray of a warm Miller Lite blowing up over me… the rain felt pretty good.

It wasn’t enough rain to force a delay, but just enough to get everything quite wet. I saw ushers down in the Champions Club seating area grabbing towels and drying the seats for those who paid $275 a ticket to sit there.

Common… what’s the big deal if your nice pants get a little wet? This is baseball, not polo.

The neatest thing about the rain at Target Field today is that you could smell it coming. You know that smell… Where the rain gets about a mile away and the wind blows that rain smell toward you faster than the rain can get there. We all knew it was coming.

The crowd even enjoyed the rain. In the strangest of all cheers ever chanted at any sporting event, I heard “OUTDOOR Baseball!” chanted by the fans over and over as the rain started to fall.

This rain was something that no fan had felt at a home Twins game in almost 30 years.

There is a generation out there… MINE to be exact… that has no idea what it is like to feel rain on your shoulders as you watch a game.

The fans said, “Bring it on.”
… and I enjoyed walking the Target Field steps and shouting,

“Cold, Wet, Beer – HERE!”

… in the rain.

Baseball belongs outside…

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Look UP!

Tomorrow is the Target Field opener. There are many things to look forward to… The first pitch, the first hit, the first home run, etc…

I am looking forward to seeing all of those things, but there is one thing that will define Target Field for me Monday that will be like nothing else. It is the ultimate experience of an “outdoor” sporting event.

Not green grass, not blue sky, not even a little rain in the forecast for tomorrow… This is better.

Even with 2 World Series Championships, Twins fans have NEVER experienced this event at a home game. It was something never seen at the Dome or at Met Stadium. The Vikings have never been able to do this at a home game.

This is different!

It is truly THE symbol of an outdoor sporting event…


Six jets from the Air National Guard flying in formation right over the stadium at the conclusion of the Star Spangled Banner… close enough to the ground to completely drown out any other noise in the ballpark. It is the true patriotic symbol after the National Anthem at any “outdoor” professional sporting event.

Oh sure, we had the occasional helicopter take off from HCMC and make a little extra noise in the Dome… or we saw the occasional DC-10 shadow on the Teflon roof as it passed overhead.

Nothing can compare to the ballpark flyover.
The Twins won’t do this at every game. For everyone at the game tomorrow, enjoy the very first Flyover at any Minnesota sporting event EVER.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Observations From The Aisle.

I’ve sold beer to Vikings fans, Gophers fans, Wild fans and Twins fans. Baseball fans are the best…

What is it that separates Twins fans from all others…?

If you were at the exhibition games this past weekend you saw it.

Jacques Jones was an average to above average player when he was with the Twins from 1999-2005. He had a lot of potential and played an important role with the Twins returning to competitive baseball in 2002. He also was famous for swinging at strike 3 when the pitch was out of the strike zone... WAY out of the strike zone.

Jones decided to test the free agent market in 2005 and left Minnesota for the Chicago Cubs. His career has not been the same since. He has bounced around with several teams since then.

Jacque signed a minor league contract with the Twins in February and will not survive the final roster cut to start the season with the Twins.

None of this matters to Twins fans. Jones received standing ovations at both games. This showed great class and great support for a player who is still a fan favorite.

Twins fans “get it”. They would love to see him return to his old form and play a role in winning a championship this year.

Hopefully Twins fans will get that chance to see Jacque Jones play baseball at Target Field in late October, 2010.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2 Games Worked, 2 Important Observations

After working my second game at Target Field, two things jump out at me.

First and foremost… Target Field is absolutely STUNNING! There is not a bad seat in the house and the look and feel of outdoor baseball is fabulous! The blue sky, the Plaza, light rail outside left field, the real green grass, and even some of the quirks are fantastic.

Believe it or not… even the Hot Dogs are better.

Every part of this stadium (strike that)... Every part of this ballpark is first rate.

But second…

The more things change, the more they stay the same. There were still crowds in the concourses; the lines at the concession stands were still long.

Sure, maybe after the newness of Target Field wears off, it is possible that these things will improve. Someday fans will stop wandering around just to look at the stadium and they will be done trying to figure out what to eat and settle in on their favorites.

But for now… Stay in your seats and out of those lines if you want a beer.

Beer vendors are learning how to find the quickest way through the masses to bring you your favorite adult beverage.

See you at the Game.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What am I supposed to wear????

It used to be so easy...

Black pants, knee pads, white shirt and Twins hat. In the controlled atmosphere in the Dome, there were no surprises. I took the exact same clothes to each game (YES, they were washed!)

I didn't have to check weather reports or worry about frostbite. At the Dome, it was always 69 degrees and overcast (in teflon).

Friday, April 2nd is the first day of Twins Baseball in Target Field. Sure it is just an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, but unless I want to spend 3 hours shivering, a game in early April means being prepared for the weather.

The last couple of days have been fantastic in Minnesota. It actually reached 82 degrees today. Unfortunately the forecast for tomorrow is 60% chance of rain and 60 degrees at gametime.

Jacket weather.

... or maybe just a long sleeve shirt underneath.

I have to try to stay warm but not overheat climbing thousands of steps and carrying 25-50 lbs. of adult beverages.

It used to be so easy...