Last night’s scene at the Metrodome in Minneapolis was a blot on the Twins’
great start. Some imbeciles in the left-field seats decided that the sixth
inning would be a good time to test their arms, and began throwing objects
at Yankees’ left fielder and ex-Twin,
Chuck Knoblauch.

As bad as the incident was–and I don’t want to minimize it–it’s important
to note that it happened in a building filled with baseball fans. It wasn’t
a sellout, but the 36,825 who bought tickets for last night’s game
comprised the second-biggest crowd in baseball Wednesday.

It wasn’t just last night. The Twins drew more than 80,000 fans for the
Yankee series, and are averaging well over 25,000 fans a game on this

How’d that happen? After all, isn’t the Metrodome a horrible place to watch
a baseball game? Aren’t the Twins supposed to be doomed unless they get a
new ballpark, preferably one built with lots and lots of taxpayer money?
That’s what the used-car salesman tells us, right?

Commissioner Bud Selig should be pointing to the Twins as a shining example
of how success in baseball isn’t solely determined by payroll. He should be
talking about how great it is that fans anywhere will support a team that’s
exciting and entertaining and successful, even if they don’t play in a
$350-million gift from the public.

Selig should be capitalizing on this to promote the game. That’s what the
nominal leader of the sport should do: help feed excitement over the
product and help it be successful.

Instead, we’re getting silence, because the Twins’ success and the big
crowds at the Metrodome don’t fit with Selig’s predetermined posture, and
he’d prefer to ignore them. The Twins play in a small market and do not
have a taxpayer-funded mallpark, and therefore are destined to play lousy
baseball in front of tiny, apathetic crowds. No one will go to games at the
Metrodome, because it doesn’t fit the image of Camden Yards and all the
retro parks that have followed.

From Baseball Prospectus 1999:

"A young, exciting, successful team could reignite the city's
affection for the team. For all the bleating about how the Twins need a
park to survive, the Twins drew enormous, raucous, handkerchief-waving mobs
during their 1987 and 1991 championship seasons.

"Minneapolis, like any city, will support a successful team that tries
to win."

If Bud Selig’s #1 priority was growing the game of baseball, he would be
promoting the hell out of the Twins. He would be encouraging local fans to
support the team and finding ways to get exposure for the team and for
players like
Doug Mientkiewicz and
Torii Hunter.

Selig doesn’t want that. He wants to take money from taxpayers and give it
to his industry. He wants guaranteed risk-free profits for all of the
ownership cohort, regardless of level of investment and level of
competence, preferably while taking money away from the players who
actually bring fans to the park and the ownership groups who invest in
their product.

Selig wants to call black white and then have a discussion over whether
it’s eggshell or ivory.

The Twins don’t fit his paradigm, and he damn well isn’t going to stand up
and point that out. Hope and faith? Selig hopes Twins fans go away again,
because their faith could ruin all of his plans.

God bless them.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by

clicking here

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