One of the most hectic weekends in Minnesota sports history just wrapped up. Here's a recap of all of my experiences.
This is one of the few events I actually went to. I got there at about 1:50 even though the gates didn't open until two with my annoyingly early arriving friend Charlie. This was by far the best experience. None of the players there were older than about 24 and they all seemed to just be enjoying themselves. As a Twins fan, a couple things stood out. I got to see Meyer pitch for the first time; he seems to need a little more developing. The talent is clearly there. He maxed out at 97 MPH but was mostly hitting around 95 or 96. But from the limited look I had at him he seems to need to gain more control. I was also surprised at the amount of relatives there. The ones I counted were Corey Seager, (Kyle Seager's brother) Gabriel Guerrero (Vlad's nephew) and Edwin Escobar (Cousin of Alcides Escobar.) One last thought: I was really impressed with Marlins pitching prospect Domingo German. He threw a 96 mile per hour heater, which he would couple with and 82 mile per hour changeup. Being in the Marlins organization, I can't wait to see the 1-2 punch he has with Jose Fernandez on some other team in a few years.
Home Run Derby
I never thought I'd be so entertained by watching guys take batting practice. A big factor of it was just the fact that it was here. Half the fun was watching the introductions and seeing Morneau get a standing ovation. I don't have much more to say about this other than I can watch Giancarlo Stanton hit homers all day.
The parade started at one, but I arrived there at 11 with my annoyingly early arriving brother and nephew. (are you sensing a theme here?) But like last time, it was worth it.We were right up on the fence and we could see all the players and what they were doing from Fernando Rodney doing his shoot the moon pose or whatever the hell that's supposed to be to Yasiel Puig dancing to Adam Jones carrying a man purse. Some of the players would walk over to the fence and begin signing autographs. At the beginning it was pretty slow. All the players who signed looked hesitant, like they didn't know if they were allowed to do it. I could even see Jones asking some important looking guy in a suit before he signed for about eight people. Jeter was the first person to sign near our section. He went down the line, signed my nephew's ball, looked at the ball my brother was holding out, looked up at his face, saw he was wearing a Red Sox hat, and kept going. At least that's my brother's story, and he's the same guy who predicted Cano would win the derby until finding out in the middle of the first round he wasn't there, changing his pick to Cespedes and trying to make it seem like he had him all along. As I've said before, I don't hate Derek Jeter. Everything I've read about him makes him seem like great guy to be around and if you watch him play he's clearly revered by his peers. All I hate is how over covered he's been and how it seems like some requirement that we bow down to him and kiss his feet. Anyway, moving back to the parade after that Jeter related tangent, (Don't worry It's the first of multiple) in the middle the flood gates opened. The first player to come over was Josh Harrison, who had one of those, "Wow, I'm in the All Star game. Hey, that's really cool they want my autograph" looks on him. In the half hour after that, Madison Baumgarner, Tyson Ross, Huston Street, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo, Julio Teheran and, my favorite, Andrew McCutchen all came over. Cutch is my favorite non-Twin in the league right now. Everything about him, from his dreadlocks to the effortless way he tracks down balls in the outfield screams "stud." When you watch the Pirates play you never forget who the best player on the team is.
The Actual Game
For the most part, the game was great. Fantastic. Watching it on the TV the entire time I couldn't believe it was actually being played here in Minneapolis. Then Suzuki and Perkins came in and I almost got chills. Here's what I didn't like: After the final out, the camera immediately cut to Jeter and stayed there for the next 30 seconds. No comments on how the hometown boy had closed it out, or about Mike Trout's double and triple or Miggy's homer. Even during the game, half an inning never went by without somebody bringing up Jeter. I won't say anything more on this subject other than this: When was the last time announcers praised a player for almost making a great play? Now that I have all of the negative stuff out of the way, let me make sure you don't get the wrong idea about this. Even just watching the game on TV, it was still a huge experience. A few hours before the game even started Minneapolis still had a buzz around it. The entire weekend was one of the best experiences of my life and I'm already counting down the 20 to 30 years until it comes back.