Column: Summertime, thrill rides and the Minnesota TwinsPublished 12:00am Thursday, June 14, 2007
Jon Laging, Talking Sports
It&8217;s summertime. A wonderful time of year in Minnesota. Many of us are taking off for our summer vacations. Perhaps not as far as before, in these days of high gas prices, but maybe a trip to the Black Hills, fishing up north, or camping in a state park, perhaps touring Mystery Cave or fishing at Whitewater State Park.
But there is a once in a lifetime destination. Those of you with children of the right age, or &8220;children of all ages&8221; as a circus ringmaster would say, might be headed to an amusement park, now called &8220;Theme Parks.&8221; They are long a tradition in America, many times entitled with a patriotic theme.
Theme parks have a long and honorable history. The first park began in the 16th century near Copenhagen, Denmark. A forerunner of one of the oldest and best parks in the world, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, which is a marvelous experience according to all reports. Amusement parks hit their zenith throughout America prior to the Great Depression with Coney Island needing three separate parks. After World War II they made a comeback with Disneyland changing the scope of amusement parks. It still is a tremendous draw and continues to exhaust parents and children.
While theme parks are much broader than just thrill rides, rides are still very important for small carnivals as they travel from town to town. Those of us that grew up in small towns remember the annual town celebration as the high point of the summer &8212; an event not to be missed. The family&8217;s weeklong summer vacation was planned as to not coincide with the celebration. It was typically held during the middle of the summer and was many things to many people, including family reunions and a chance to see your farm classmates. A lot of first dates occurred during these town celebrations.
Coming to town were all kinds of wonders, including stomach turning rides. The Octopus, Tilt-A-Whirl, Bullet and other thrill rides.
Working for the local light plant and helping with the electrical connections for the carnival one year, I got a lot of ride tickets. Also in the park were Girl Scouts my age selling ice cream sandwiches. Between the sandwiches and the rides, (the Tilt-A-Whirl comes to mind), the inevitable happened.
As I was thinking back on those days, the Minnesota Twins appeared in my mind&8217;s eye. They have taken us on amusement park rides the first third of the season. Three rides stick out: the Tilt-A- Whirl, Bumper Cars and of course, the king of rides, the roller coaster. Most roller coaster rides work by kinetic energy. They are hauled to the highest point and coast up and down from that point. The Twins cannot coast, because they have not climbed that early hill. In fact, they are pretty much traveling on level ground. They have been very much like bumper cars, coming to an abrupt stop and heading off in another direction. It&8217;s enough to make you Tilt-A-Whirl dizzy.
The team needs to make that roller coaster climb to the top and then not reverse direction and plunge to the bottom after achieving that high level. Can they do it? I don&8217;t know, but I have paid my money and like most amusement park rides, I look forward to the rest of the trip.
They can achieve success, but they need to get off these carnival rides and be consistent in both their pitching and hitting. I do think they need to bring Matt Garza up and they desperately need a power bat. Having Jason Tyner bat with game on the line during the Washington series was ridiculous.
The Minnesota State Fair is coming and wouldn&8217;t it be great for the Twins to be providing the best ride in town.
Jon Laging writes a regional column from his home in Preston.