Frontenac State Park, SE Minnesota
Another drive along the banks of the Mississippi River led us to another cool hiking spot in Minnesota. This one started maybe 100-feet high above the river and led us down about 2 miles of some really steep trails through thick woods all the way to the banks of the water. The trails were definitely less-developed than the other ones we’ve done but it was a much more natural atmosphere with some really awesome views.
When we got to Minneapolis we had some sushi before the Twins game which was so good. You all know what sushi looks like, but I wanted to show you the fried oysters and age dashi (lightly fried) tofu. The tofu was soft as usual on the inside, but with this crispy skin it was a great texture. I want to learn how to make it… but will most likely just continue to buy and eat it.
After dinner we headed straight to Target Field, the second newest stadium in the majors (2010) behind Miami. And it looks almost as modern as Marlins’ Stadium too, with a lot of glass and steel giving it a cool futuristic look. It wasn’t the boring old round shape like in Miami, but had so many unique design features instead. For example, to balance out the modern glass and metal look, most of the walls (exterior and interior) are composed of the same yellowish Kasota limestone that Pittsburgh’s PNC Park used.
Another interesting thing they did with the stadium was number the gates after the ex-Twins whose numbers have been retired by the team: Gate 3 for Harmon Killebrew (most homers in Twins history: 559), 6 for Tony Oliva (most extra base hits in single season for twins: 84), 34 for Kirby Puckett (only Twin to have 6 hits in a game – and did it twice), 29 for Rod Carew (highest career Twins BA: .334), and 14 for Kent Hrbek (2nd-most career homers & RBIs for Twins: 293 & 1,086).
And by the main entrance is a huge wall of about 51,000 aluminum flaps that spin with the wind patterns, a pretty cool artsy feature outside the ballpark.
Here’s another comparison to Marlins Ballpark. Remember that huge, crazy, light-up, moving display in center field in Miami? I thought it was a little over-the-top, but here in Minnesota is something a little less loud and a little more meaningful. High above the center field bleachers is the Twins’ logo: the Minnesota state outline, with two men – known as Minnie and Paul – in baseball uniforms, shaking hands over a bridge and a water stream. Minnie has the letter “M,” and Paul has “S.T.P” on his jersey, representing the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul (clever names, I know). The river is meant to be the Mississippi, and the hand-shaking symbolizes the joining of the Twin Cities. This big sign lights up and moves in different ways when things go the Twins ways. Strobe lights trace the state line, Minnie and Paul’s hands shake up and down, and the river lights up and moves as if it’s flowing.
From 3rd-base line seats like ours, you get a great view of downtown Minneapolis, with the NBA’s Timberwolves’ Target Center in front (with the cute Target dog mascot wagging its tail, looking right down at the ballgame).
From our 3rd-level seats we had that awesome view of the city and could see every point of the park, from the Budweiser porch high up by the left field foul pole, to the bleacher section that actually protrudes over right field by about 8 feet – which I feel like could really cause some complaints from right-fielders who start lining up for fly balls just to watch them land in the 1st row right above their heads.
The Twins threw lefty Brian Duensing who hasn’t been pitching too well this year with a 2-7 record coming into the game, against the Tigers’ Doug Fister who we’re seeing just 5 days after watching him pitch at home in Detroit. It didn’t start off very well for Duensing, allowing 4 runs in the first 2 innings. But after two Detroit errors in the bottom of the 3rd, Twins clean-up hitter Josh Willingham blasted a 3-run homer to tie the game at 4. None of these runs were counted as earned, so Fister technically threw 8 innings of shut-out baseball. And with 4 more runs to back him up, including 2 in the 9th, the Tigers took the win 8-4, the 6th time in a row the away team has beaten the home squad on our road trip. There’s this little thing Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde does with his catcher when he finishes a game, where they close their fingers and touch them together. It’s weird but I got a pretty funny shot of it.
Starting pitchers: Brian Duensing (L) – 6 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, 4 Ks; Doug Fister – 8 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 R (0 ER), 7 Ks
Homers: Josh Willingham, Andy Dirks
LAST STOP: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Phils, 8/16 & 17