Column: Sunday Funday

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2006

John Focke, Behind the Mike

On Sunday I had the pleasure of beating the heat by heading to the Metrodome to catch the Twins-Mariners tilt.

It was one of those days you dream about while sitting in the classroom, a sky so blue and clear it is blinding, the heat just screaming at you to jump in a pool or lake and the mercury of the thermometer steadily rising like the Yankees payroll.

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As we filed into the dome (thank goodness for air-conditioning) it occurred to me that I was not angered by having to go inside to watch baseball. The reason being, there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Over the past few years whenever you had Twins tickets you had to check the weather and pray for a rainy day so it would make it worthwhile to be stuck inside. But after Friday when Governor Pawlenty and a group of Minnesota Twins alumni signed the stadium bill to make it official, the fans had something tangible to look forward to.

As we got down to our seats (let me tell you it’s the best feeling ever, being able to walk down to your seats. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked up to my seats in the upperdeck, walking down was like a dream come true, it never gets old.) I looked around and saw a large crowd of fans who could also see the light at the end of the tunnel.

True it’s still going to be three years before Pohlad’s Park opens in downtown Minneapolis, but knowing that soon we would be enjoying a dome dog in the sun watching the Hometown Nine, a first for many Twins fans, was enough to put a smile on mine and many fans faces.

Not to mention the game we got to see. I know Twins fans are not as die hard as Red Sox fans, or as spoiled as Yankees and Braves fans, but when Johan Santana hits the hill, fans come out in droves.

This game featured a little bit of everything, Santana going seven innings, not with his best stuff, but when it got to two strikes and two outs everyone at the Dome was on their feet. Justin Morneau went deep with a two-run shot to tie the game, Torii Hunter slamming into the centerfield wall to save a run, Joe Mauer going 3-4 and using the whole field as if he were hitting off a tee-ball stand.

For once, the middle relief held and Joe Nathan came on to hold Seattle scoreless in the top of the 10th, just in time for Leeeeewwwwwww Ford to go deep and pick up the first walk-off homer of his short career.

Throw in the fact that it was wiffle ball bat day and Memorial Day weekend it truly was a Sunday Funday.

The fans filed out into the scorching heat all abuzz about the Twins sweep, and thinking &8220;only three games back of .500, we’re on our way!&8221;

Then the west coast hit the Twins like the heat wave that recently hit the state. Leaving the Twins disoriented and sweaty, while fans shook their heads and said what went wrong?

My advice to the Twins organization (and yes they called to see what I thought) is this: Let the young players play, give them a chance to get used to the bigs, let them make mistakes and grow.

The Twins team that won three straight division titles grew together, and while it wasn’t pretty at times, it was successful, and made that first title that much sweeter. The prospects coming up now are better prepared than that crew, but they have yet to be allowed to showcase their talents. Throw in some stud pitchers (Santana, Liriano, Bonser) and you might even surprise some people. Just keep us looking forward to division and World Series Title in Pohlad’s Park in 2010!