With storybook success, Twins building fan foundation

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 7, 2002

We love the ongoing stories. Off-season scares of contraction, a stadium issue, a fan attendance issue, a group of young ball players which weren’t given much respect by the league, and an astonishing playoff run by a team which has the 30th ranked payroll in the major leagues.

When the Twins pulled off a very close and nail-biting 5-4 win over the Oakland A’s on Sunday afternoon something seemed to sweep across Minnesota silently, and hopefully it will reach Albert Lea: Twins fever.

Early last week with a rocky second and third game in the American League Division Series, sorry store racks and empty bar seats indicated that local residents and businesses seemed a little hesitant to spread the fever.

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With a come-from-behind series win, the contraction club may have just won over a little more loyalty in the area. With the series win over one of the best teams of the 2002 season, maybe the next Twins series can fill those same bar seats, and stores will experience an upward flux in business.

It’s hard not to like these guys. Coming up through the minor leagues together, they are a team of youth, energy and humor, something special to college sports, rare in professional sports.

After taking the A’s in 5 games, the Twins will start a best of seven series with the Anaheim Angels, another unexpected playoff contender.

The two teams are a lot alike. Each has made their run with strong bullpens, contact hitters and great defense. It should prove to be an interesting series.

There’s no question the state is ready to catch the fever. In two home games during the Division Series against the A’s, the Twins drew more fans than Oakland did for its three games in the series, as huge sections of empty seats stared down at the field in Oakland. In the Metrodome for games three and four, the few blue seats visible at the start of the game filled in with stragglers by the third inning, and it was standing-room only.

On Friday, Oakland’s two first-inning runs seemed to knock the wind out of the fans, but they came roaring to life when the Twins tied the game. Things didn’t turn out well, as Oakland won the game 6-3 and pushed the Twins to the brink of elimination.

Saturday, the Metrodome noise was so much that the Teflon roof seemed decibels away from blowing open. The Twins, on the strength of a 7-run inning, pummeled the A’s 11-2 and forced the decisive fifth game Sunday.

By the end of the fifth game, Minnesota fans were already lining up outside the Metrodome to buy tickets to the next playoff round, where they will scream, wave their Homer Hankies, and make the dome the most intimidating place to play in the major leagues.

With the success of the Twins, the issue of the new stadium is being talked about again. While most will admit that there is a need for a new stadium, it will be hard to think of a Twins postseason without the &uot;thunder dome&uot; sound.

Let’s hope that if they do build it, they’ll remember to put acoustics first.