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My first game at Target Field

Geoff Wood

My buddy Chad in Saint Paul (1) bought season tickets to the inaugural season of Target Field, the new Minnesota Twins ballpark in Minneapolis, and invited me up to see the Twins take on the Oakland A's on Friday night. The game was good, a 4-3 win by the Twins, but the real story was ballpark itself.

Up until April of this year, the Twins had played in The Metrodome my entire life (2).  The Metrodome being a large, bland, indoor facility that they shared with the NFL's Vikings and the NCAA's Golden Gophers.

The Twins' new digs, Target Field, is the exact opposite. Chad's tickets are in the lower level off of left field so we had a great view of the Minneapolis skyline (image above) as well as the game. We only spent half of the game actually sitting in the seats, for the other half we checked out the views from different levels of the facility and enjoying the various perspectives, angles, and beers you find all about.

I don't think there's a bad seat anywhere in the place. My favorite view is probably from the lower deck in the outfield. You can't see the video board but otherwise it's great. I also particularly enjoyed the Metropolitan Club over by right field which has a more diverse bar and great bathrooms (sometimes you need that at a baseball game) and even the upper deck has a great view.

It's amazing how good a stadium can be when it's designed for a single purpose (baseball in this case) rather than as a huge multisport facility.

Now, lets get the Vikings a new stadium, designed specifically for them, and all will be good.

Here's some additional photos that I shared on Flickr:

(1)Actually Oakdale. (2) Yes, the played outdoors in Metropolitan Stadium prior to the Metrodome but I'm pretty sure that before I was born - I didn't bother to look up the date.

W2YM Review: The Final Season

Geoff Wood

Welcome to my first Wood2YourMoms movie review!

For the last week or so I've had a Netflix DVD sitting on the counter and since the Cyclones are off this weekend I decided to through it in. It's the movie The Final Season, the story of the 1991 Norway (Iowa) High School baseball team. That particular season is "movie-worthy" because it was the last (or final, hence the name). The school had won 19 state titles in tiny division I-A coming into this season and their evil (at least according to the movie) school board had just voted to consolidate with the Benton Community folks up in Vinton. The town was able to work a deal where the team had the opportunity to play one last (again, "final") season as long as they traded into their superstar coach for a rookie, played by Sean Astin (a/k/a "Rudy", "Mikey" from Goonies and the "stupid, fat hobbit"). It also featured Univ. of Iowa alumnus of the year Tom Arnold!

The writing is okay (guess what - they win a 20th State Title!) and the acting isn't great. There were several references that seemed corny and out of place to anyone who's ever actually been to Iowa. One notable instance is the way the characters regard the relationship between small-town Norway and big-city Des Moines. They aren't that different. For instance, Sean Astin's character has to explain to the Des Moines lawyer that he went to Luther College, a "Division 3 school in Decorah".  She responds that she went to "the University of Iowa Law School". I'm sure almost everyone in Iowa (espescially those holding their JD) knows of Luther and where it is. Additionally, everyone else would just call Iowa Law, well, "Iowa Law". That's Hollywood for you.

However, I did like the movie - mainly because of the setting. I'm always proud to see Iowa depicted as a great place and this movie does it. The scenery was beautiful and fairly true to local landmarks. They filmed in the minor league park in Cedar Rapids which was filled with billboards for local companies like HyVee and Musco and even one for the now defunct Regency Homes. Speaking of Musco, I did like the line calling something, "as bright as a Musco", which is not a cliche that I've ever heard and is probably colloquial enough to be missed by most people in this presentation. However, it's a great sports reference and I'll have to work it in myself sometime.

There were also several scenes at my alma mater - Cedar Rapids Kennedy. The opening scenes takes place at Belle Plaine High School but is obviously shot at the horseshoe (main entrance) and foyer at Kennedy. The Norway team plays their first game that year at Kennedy against a team of Cougars in their accurate, yet ugly, kelly green and gold uniforms. This scene was filmed at Kennedy, too. The high school was quite visible in the background even if the field itself looked funny - since it's featuring fairly new lights (probably Musco's).

Overall, it's no Field of Dreams but a so-so baseball movie and a good depiction of the Tall Corn State, nonetheless. Throw it in your Netflix queue or watch it on cable if your favorite college team is off on a Saturday.

Top Sports Experiences per ESPN

Geoff Wood

Last week ESPN continued the downfall of their media franchise from respectable journalism to pop-culture tabloid by publishing of yet another "list" this one focusing on "101 things all sports fans must experience before they die"

For my take on the highlights, I'll begin with my connections:

1/3. Summer/Winter Olympics (every four years in a different city).

I've never been but have visited at least two Olympic venue's post competition (Lake Placid & Calgary) as well as known a couple Olympians (who all live in America but have competed for other countries) and recently met a gold medalist (Cael).

6. Spring training (February-March, Florida and Arizona).

I used to watch Red Sox games in Winter Haven, FL when visiting my grandparents. I've wanted to coordinate one of my Southwest Florida work trips with a Twins game in Fort Myers but it has yet to happen.

14. College World Series (June, Omaha, Neb.).

I've been to Rosenblatt and had tickets for the CWS but never made it inside.

33. The Indy 500 (Memorial Day weekend, Indianapolis).

Our first experience of the race was this May though I had been to the track & museum early on in life

59. Calgary Stampede (July, Calgary, Alberta).

Been there!

74. Field of Dreams Ghost Sundays (select days in summer, Dyersville, Iowa).

I've been to the Field of Dreams many times but never actually seen a "Ghost Sunday" game.

86. Iowa-Iowa State wrestling match (winter, Iowa). There aren't any masks, folding chairs, cages, turnbuckle smashes or soap opera story lines. When a state cares this much about wrestling and the programs are this good, you don't need Vince McMahon to make it compelling.

I've watched this on IPTV several times but never actually witnessed it live. Following up Cael's #2 national ranking in his rookie coaching campaign and the having the meet in Ames probably makes this the year to do.

And conclude with the too rick-diculous(1) to have made the list:

41. The Iditarod (February, Anchorage to Nome, Alaska).

People go watch the Iditarod? Sheesh.

49. Lady Vols game (winter, Knoxville, Tenn.). ...When Pat Summitt takes command, the Vols go on a run and the band starts playing "Rocky Top," there is no better atmosphere for basketball -- men's or women's.

I come from a WBB school but I very much doubt there is "no better atmosphere".

52. Indiana high school basketball tournament (March, Indiana).

Locals tell me the IN state tourney is nothing since they divided it by class - might as well have put the now defunct IA Six-Man Girls Tourney on the list, too.

57. World Figure Skating Championships (annual, around the world).

No comment necessary.

90. Show-Me State Games (July, Columbia, Mo.). You can watch sports on TV or you can get off your couch and participate. And that's what about 30,000 Missourians do every summer, ranging from age 3 to 83.

Apparently this happens in 40 states including Iowa where they have more than 73000 participants throughout the year. Why is MO so groundbreaking?

(1) You know, the guy Ludacris stole his act from.