The place won't die.
That's how it should be, I suppose. That's how it goes in horror movies. The killer gets burned, drowned, chopped in half, run over by a car, crushed by a tree, shot 12 times in the chest ... but the killer keeps coming back, more and more ticked off with each near-death experience.
That's the Metrodome. You think you've killed it, but no, it will not die. It will keep coming back, again and again, shoving itself into the limelight like a frustrated chorus girl. The last baseball game in the Metrodome was supposed to be on Sunday. The touching eulogies were written -- yes, even the villains get touching eulogies. But the old barn had one more glorious day -- deafening noise, twirling hankies, a big home victory. Now, today, we get a one-game playoff -- Twins vs. Tigers -- and once again it could be the last day of baggie baseball. But don't bet on it. The creepy music plays. The phone lines have been disconnected. The Metrodome is looking like it might stick around for a while.
There have been other grim ballparks, of course. Grim ballparks are a part of baseball. Jarry Park Stadium in Montreal -- Stade Parc Jarry -- was by all accounts a dismal place where the sun would blind first basemen and a cold wind would pour in from all directions.
But it's probably fair to say that no park in a half century has been quite as despised as the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I suspect the Metrodome itself would consider that a point of honor. Even people who love it, hate it. Well, how else can you feel about playing baseball in a football stadium with plastic grass, a baseball-colored roof, an echo and a giant glad trash bag just beyond the fence? How else can you feel about going to the ballpark on a beautiful July day in Minneapolis -- there aren't many seasons in America as beautiful as Minnesota summers -- and then finding yourself watching something resembling baseball in this dank building with all the romance of a bank vault? It's like playing Monopoly in your friend's basement when it's 70 degrees and sunny outside.
"What's wrong with you kids," our mothers would yell. "Go play outside!"
And that's what I always wanted to yell -- I sensed that's what EVERYBODY wanted to yell -- while watching games in the Metrodome. You know what
And so on. There never has been a shortage of people willing to bash the Metrodome.
Well, you can ask anybody. Even someone writing a story under the headline
But that doesn't mean the place lacks magic. Haunted houses have magic. When the Dome is filled, it's the loudest park in baseball. And when it's loud, crazy stuff happens. Infielders drop fly balls. Baseballs bounce over outfielders' heads. High line drives get caught in the air conditioning and ride the air stream over the fence. Hard ground balls scoot around fielders like
It had to go, of course. But while everyone wanted it to go year after year -- everybody from players to writers to announcers to fans -- the Metrodome endured. There was history there --
Finally, there was inertia. Are you going to fix your drive or drive around the pothole? Truth is, after a while, you might even kind of learn to love that pothole. After all, it's yours. And the Dome belonged to the Twins, belonged to Minnesota baseball fans. It was theirs: The worst stadium in baseball. Sure, that means something. It was something to COMPLAIN about. And stuff to complain about brings people together. In the South, it's the humidity.
The Metrodome would bring everyone together during baseball season. It was so dreadful, so indefensible, so anti-baseball that in a weird way it became the opposite of those things. My suspicion was always that Twins fans could take some pride in it.
Of course, now the Twins will move into a new stadium, a beautiful new place where the grass will be green, and the food will be varied and the atmosphere will be alive and, yes, Opening Day may feel like the freezer car in
Well, let's not get ahead of the time. Horror movies end, too. For now, for today at least, the creepy music plays and the Metrodome still has that killer's gleam in the eye. It never was a thing of beauty. But it sure is damn hard to beat the Twins there on a day like today.