Target Field gets "baptized"
The first-ever baseball game was played at Target Field yesterday, as 36,056 fans watched the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The home team lost, however, 9-1. See Minnesota Daily. Some superb detailed photos of that game are posted at baseball-fever.com; hat tip to Mike Zurawski. The Twins' first game at Target Field will be on April 2, in an exhibition contest against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Target Field has generated a whirlwind of excitement among baseball fans, including James Matthes, who committed to sponsoring the Target Field page. Not only that, he submitted three awesome panoramic photos that he took during the recent open house there. In the photo below, note that the gap between the trapezoidal upper deck in right-center field and the parking garage aligns perfectly with the position from which the photo was taken, suggesting that the upper deck on that side extends a bit further out than I had estimated. Many thanks, James, for the sponsorship and for the excellent photos.
By the way, you too can sponsor one of the stadium pages, for just $10 annually, or else just donate a smaller amount. If you've got a blog or other Web site, it would be a great way to publicize it, and if not, you would just feel better inside, contributing to a worthy cause.
Other ballpark news
At ESPN, Rob Neyer wrote that the relocation of the Athletics is being held up by Bud Selig's prolonged effort to line up unanimous approval by MLB owners for such a move. The main problem is that the most eligible destination, San Jose, is in the territory of the San Francisco Giants, who would presumably demand a big compensation if they were to concede those rights. Neyer writes that it would be a 29-1 vote except that "some of the other clubs are afraid of setting a precedent, and also ... the Giants (presumably) have some favors they can call in." Selig met with Athletics officials last Sunday, but no announcements were made. Link via fieldofschemes.com, at which Neil deMause compares this excruciatingly long wait to the process of relocating and finally selling the former Montreal Expos franchise, when they moved to Washington in 2005. Orioles owner Peter Angelos stonewalled year after year, and successfully wrung a big chunk of the television broadcast rights from the Nationals franchise in exchange for his consent.
Also at fieldofschemes.com, deMause criticizes the commissioner of Major League Soccer, Don Garber, for threatening Washington, D.C. to get a new stadium built for the D.C. United franchise. You'd think that stadium shakedown routine would get old after a while, but I guess it still works. Frankly, I don't see why RFK Stadium can't be retrofitted somehow to provide a better experience for soccer fans. [Hat tip to Mike Zurawski for both these items.]
Here is a fascinating historical controversy about which I was not aware: Some people think that Hank Greenberg was prevented from breaking Babe Ruth's single-season home run because of anti-semitic prejudices by other ball players. In 1938 he fell two short of The Babe's record with 58, evidently because he would often get pitched around in situations where he might have swung hard for the fences. "Greenberg received many more walks as he chased Ruth in 1938 than he did in the rest of his career." See the New York Times, via Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy.