The possibility of unprecedented weather at a sporting event – and the reality of it – was the story in sports on Tuesday, May 25.
Hours after the National Football League awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey – marking the first time the game will be played in a wintry climate – the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees had their game at Target Field in Minneapolis suspended by rain with no score after five innings. (The Yankees eventually won the game when it was resumed the next day)
This is the Twins’ first season at Target Field after playing the previous 28 years at the Metrodome. The last time a Twins game was suspended due to inclement weather was September 24, 1981, a mere 19 months before Joe Mauer – the Twins’ All-Star catcher and reigning American League Most Valuable Player – was born in nearby St. Paul.
Neither the occasional shower (the Twins had their first rainout Friday, May 7; a split-admission doubleheader was played the next day) nor the Major League Baseball ticket policy that left the fans at the suspended game unable to use their tickets to attend the completion of the contest the next afternoon – since five innings were played, it was considered a complete game – have been enough to dampen the good vibes emanating from Target Field.
Through Wednesday, May 26, the Twins’ average attendance after 23 home dates was 38,753, more than 98 percent of capacity at the 39,504-seat ballpark. Only the Boston Red Sox, with a consecutive sellout streak more than seven years long, and the two-time defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies are playing to a larger percent of capacity than the Twins.
In addition, through Thursday, May 27, the Twins have outscored their opponents by 41 runs at home, the largest differential in the AL. The Twins have held a share of first place in the AL Central every day since Monday, April 12.
The early-season success at the gate and on the field is a continuation of the positive momentum with which the Twins entered Target Field. The Twins won the AL Central for the fifth time in eight years last year and have further engendered good feelings among their fans over the last few years by signing multiple young players – including Mauer, former AL MVP Justin Morneau and ace pitcher Scott Baker – as well as veteran top-flight closer Joe Nathan to long-term deals that will keep them in Minnesota for their peak years.
It’s quite a comeback, on and off the field, for a franchise that was targeted for a move out of small-market Minnesota in the late 1990s and then, for a brief time early last decade, contraction by Major League Baseball. Now, with the NBA’s Timberwolves and the NHL’s Wild having long ago completed also-ran seasons and the NFL’s Vikings months away from resuming play (not to mention learning whether or not quarterback Brett Favre will deign to return yet again), the Twins are the hottest and only ticket in town.