To Minnesotans, nothing says summer like a game at Target Field on a breezy, warm night. The Twins don’t even have to be playing well for locals to enjoy the open-air stadium, tasty concessions, and striking skyline views. But while I enjoy fresh air and nachos in a souvenir helmet as much as anybody, I really don’t like baseball games.
I feel so ungrateful, because I live in the Metro and have probably been to 25 games since the stadium opened in 2010. Twins fans from St. Cloud, the Fargo-Moorhead area, or Duluth would kill for this. And I do think the Twins work hard to make every game an entertaining, family-friendly experience.
But Bert can circle somebody else. I’ll pass.
It’s not you. It’s me.
I really don’t know what went wrong with me. My dad loves the Twins. My sister loves the Twins. They are fans not in a watch-every-game-on-T.V. sense (because I ask you, who has the time and long-suffering personality that would require?). But they know who’s got a wicked-fast pitch, who’s having a bad season, and how we compare to the rest of the teams in our division.
My mom, however, is the model baseball fan. God gave me her curly hair and literary gene, but he didn’t pass on any of her patient love for baseball. Seriously, her genuine interest puts me to shame. She listens to Twins games on the radio at home. Her Bitmoji even wears a Twins cap.
If you and I have gone to a Twins game together, let me clarify: I like spending time with you, and that’s why I accepted your invitation. (Also, nachos). Only recently have I gained enough self-awareness to interpret the growing inner angst I feel at every baseball game.
Why I’m just not that into baseball
It was a Wednesday in early May. The Twins were playing the Oakland Athletics. I was with Alex, sitting in the upper deck, dipping chicken fingers into barbecue sauce. The night was chilly, but nothing a sweatshirt couldn’t cure. It was our first game of the season.
I was waiting for the thrill to hit. You know, that joyful “it’s baseball season in Minnesota!” feeling to hit me.
Except that feeling never hit.
And I suddenly realized I’d really never felt it. The revelation came with some despair, and a sense of betrayal to my fellow Americans, but also relief.
Here are the things I liked about Twins games:
- When veterans raise the flag at the start of games. Because it’s patriotic and oh-so-moving.
- When someone hits a home run. Because it’s exciting.
- When Alex buys me nachos in a helmet. Because you can’t get this experience at home.
Aside from those three things, I could name a whole lot more things I didn’t like about baseball in general:
- It’s nightmarishly slow. Yes, I know history has given us some fantastic baseball moments, like that time in ’69 when Mickey Mantle… okay, I have no idea. When I watch baseball, I watch the clock. I tear off all my nails. I look at the field and it’s like nobody is moving, like time has stopped and we’re all stuck in this awful space-time warp where we can’t leave our plastic seats or get cotton candy, no matter how much cash you wave at the concessions guy. He can’t hear you. It’s just you, and this field of frozen bearded men. And it’s only the first inning.
- I don’t know where to look. There are too many scoreboards and scrolling numbers and video screens. I don’t know where to look for anything I actually want to know. So I ask Alex. “Where can I find the score?” He points, and we do 10 rounds of him yelling “IT’S RIGHT THERE!” and I yell back “BUT I CAN’T SEE IT!”, and then we start to attract the attention of our neighbors because they’re looking at me like they’re worried about my eyesight. Unfortunately, I know all too well it’s not my eyesight they should be worried about.
- I don’t know what’s going on. When the crowd cheers, I really want to join them, but nine times out of ten I missed what just happened because I’m looking at the white streaks airplanes leave in the sky, or I noticed the lady two rows in front of us is reading a book and I’m straining to see the cover.
Now you know the truth. Go ahead and unfriend me if you must.
The benefits of Twingo and walking around
Recently I went to a Twins game with my sister and some friends, and they introduced me to two things that really helped me enjoy the game more than usual.
The first is Twingo. Twingo (the Twins’ version of Bingo) is a wonderful game you can play when you download the MLB Ballpark app. When certain things happen – e.g. a double, or the visiting team makes an error – if you have that item on your Twingo card, the app automatically marks it for you. You don’t even have to really be following the game. All you have to do is monitor your Twingo, and if you get a Twingo, you might win a prize!
Twingo is a lifesaver if you’re a terrible fan like me but wish you weren’t.
The other is the experience of roaming. I’ve never really experienced a baseball game nomad-style before, where you only sit in your designated seats for twenty minutes, and you roam all over the ballpark the rest of the night. It feels like cheating. And it’s so freeing. From a new corner of the stadium, I see the game in a whole new light. I might even watch the game for a whole 30 seconds.
If you love baseball, I admire you. Tell me what you love. Help me understand how you focus and why you care. I want to know. In the meantime, I will stick to my Twingo.
Because while I know there’s nothing more American than baseball and apple pie, I really prefer apple pie.
Isn’t that enough?