Posted at 8:07 AM on June 3, 2005
by Bob Collins
When sitting in the cheap seats the other night at the Twins game, the strangers in front of me -- not from this area -- turned and said, "how many people do you think are here -- about 8,000?" It was a good guess obviously born of judging these things from years of visiting ballparks.
"Yeah, I'd say about 8-9,000, but it'll be reported as about 15,000," I replied.
Sure enough. It was reported as 15,494. At least the Twins had the good sense not to play the "guess the attendance game" on the scoreboard.
I'm not saying the Twins lie about attendance figures, mind you, but I am saying there's at least a grain of truth to this: Minneapolis-St. Paul is not a good baseball town (errr... towns). I'm not saying it's a bad baseball town. But it's not a, well, baseball town.
In fact, the the Twins have the third-worst per-game attendance of any team in baseball with a winning record. The bottom rung is occupied by the Chicago White Sox. At least they have an excuse. You have to dodge gunfire to get into that park. The other team is the Florida Marlins and, face it, would you give up your entertainment options in Miami to go watch the Marlins if Dontrelle Willis weren't pitching?
Through yesterday, the Twins are averaging about 24,000 fans per game; good for 18th place in baseball, and about 1,000 more than they averaged last year -- a year in which the Twins front office regularly wrung their hands over the team's inability to put fannies in the seats.
And this is for a team, where as team president Dave St. Peter notes, "it's pretty hard to pay full price for a ticket."
And this'll kill Minnesotans, who love surveys and stories that project the Gopher State's place in the world. In all of Major League Baseball, the Twins are the worst draw on the road. They average 19,213 fans per game on the road.
What's going on here?
Posted at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2005
by David Zingler
With the amateur draft just days away, letís take a look at the Twins top picks over the past decade....
2004 (20th overall): Trevor Plouffe, SS, Crespi Carmelite HS (CA) - The versatile Plouffe also pitched in high school. He hit .283 at Elizabethton (rookie level) last season and is currently at Beloit (low A ball).
2003 (21st overall): Matt Moses, 3B, Mills Godwin HS (VA) - Injuries limited the potential slugger to 48 games the past two seasons. He is currently healthy and hitting well at Fort Myers (high A balll).
2001 (1st overall): Joe Mauer, C, Cretin Derham Hall HS (MN) - The St. Paul native was a controversial selection over Stanford pitcher Mark Prior. Mauer has shown superstar potential and could be the most popular Twins player since Kirby Puckett if he remains healthy.
2000 (2nd overall): Adam Johnson, P, Cal St. Fullerton - A complete bust, Johnson was inconsistent in the minor leagues and terrible in the majors. In two short stints with the Twins, the right-hander went 1-3 with a 10.25 ERA. He went to camp with Arizona this spring, but was released. He has since surfaced with the Puebla Parrots of the Mexican Summer League.
1999 (5th overall): B.J. Garbe, OF, Moses Lake HS (WA) - The Twins took a chance drafting a high school outfielder and it didnít pan out. In six seasons in the Twins system, Garbe hit .231 with 25 HRs. He was dealt to Seattle last August for veteran catcher Pat Borders and is currently with their single A affiliate, Inland Empire.
1998 (6th overall): Ryan Mills, P, Arizona St. - Another college pitcher that went bust, Mills was 17-40 with a 5.79 ERA in the Twins minor league system from 1998-2004. He never threw a pitch for the Twins.
1997 (6th overall): Michael Cuddyer, IF, Great Bridge HS (VA) - Drafted as a shortstop, Cuddyer was shifted all over the diamond before settling in at third base. He is currently in his first season as a regular. This season will go a long way in proving if he was a good pick.
1996 (2nd overall): Travis Lee, 1B, San Diego St. - In one of the more embarrassing episodes in Twins history, a paper work error made Lee an unrestricted free agent 15 days after the draft. He would eventually sign with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. Thankfully for the Twins, he never lived up to the hype and was dealt to Philadelphia as part of the Curt Schilling trade in 2000. He is currently in his second stint with the Devil Rays.
1995 (13th overall): Mark Redman, P, Oklahoma - The left-handed starter joined the Twins full time in 2000 and had a solid rookie season (12-9, 4.76 ERA). He had an injury plagued start to the 2001 season and was dealt to Detroit for reliever Todd Jones in one of Terry Ryanís more dubious deals. A member of the 2003 World Series winning Marlins, Redman has carved out a solid big league career. He is currently with Pittsburgh.
Posted at 6:13 PM on June 3, 2005
by Ben Tesch
Here's a classic(al) joke for the weekend:
He was a mediocre conductor of a mediocre orchestra. He had been having problems with the basses; they were the least professional of his musicians. It was the last performance of the season — Beethoven's 9th Symphony — which required extra effort from the basses at the end. Earlier that evening, he found the basses celebrating one of their birthdays by passing a bottle around. As he was about to cue the basses, he knocked over his music stand. The sheet music scattered. As he stood in front of his orchestra, his worst fear was realized: it was the bottom of the 9th, no score and the basses were loaded.