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White Sox Wed Sep 24 2008
Did I mention I hate the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome? Hate it, hate it, hate it. Hate its bloated name, its Michelin-Man-Taking-A-Nap appearance. Hate its garbage bag outfield wall, its plastic grass and plastic fans. Hate its non-descript, sterile, but oppressive interior. Hated their players, all of whom seemd to be 5-10, 180-pound slap-hitters. I hated that ballpark. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I hated it when I first went there in the late '80s to watch the Sox take on the Twins in a meaningless mid-season game. I was working for a small newspaper with an even smaller budget and while covering games out-of-town was an economic rarity, I used the power of the press to obtain a press pass and funded my own way there, a sort of mini-vacation.
The trip to the ball park from my hotel (OK, motel) was almost surreal, at least to a guy used to the human mélange that is Chicago. At 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the streets of downtown Minneapolis were pretty much deserted, save for a few nuclear families (dad, mom, son and daughter) strolling along who were so, let's say conservative in appearance they make Ward and June Cleaver look like William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Even more unnerving was their response to me when I passed them by: they said "Good morning." After I figured out that I, indeed, did not know them, I hated them even more. How dare they wish my morning well! Who the hell were they to dictate how my morning should go?
My Chicago sensibilities offended, I endured a few more "good mornings" as I walked further along the trash-free streets (C'mon, where's the garbage, the half-finished KFC dinners dropped unceremoniously on the sidewalk?) until I reached the giant pimple lovingly known as the "Humpdome" (dumb nickname). Inside, fans clapped appreciatively for each hit, "awwwwed" in unison for a Greg Gagne strikeout or a throw over Kent Hrbek's outstretched arm at first. No "Hey Jeff Reardon, you suck!". No "Hey Carmen Castillo, my grandmother could hit that." Just polite clapping and gentle disappointment quickly followed by shouts of encouragement.
They were the Stepford Fans and I hated them.
Flash forward to yesterday. There was that same ugly ballpark, the same Glad-Bag outfield fence, the same never-needs-mowing field. The fans are a bit rowdier, as are fans everywhere I suppose. The certainly sounded more full-bodied that the fans of yore when Jason Kubel (who was 2-for-21 against Javier Vasquez coming into the game) was sticking it to the Sox not once, (a two-run homer in the first), not twice (a triple in the fourth) but three times (a solo shot in the seventh). But they still had that "they can do no wrong" attitude when it came to pointing out Twins' mistakes. Of course the Twins didn't MAKE many mistakes, but still...
As for the White Sox, well, I'm pretty sure they hate the place too. Ozzie Guillen, for all of his "piranha" admiration, probably hates that gigantic outfield. You know, the one that he thought 200-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. could cover playing center. Vasquez probably hates the place too, in particular that big plastic outfield wall, since he had to look back at it so many times while standing on the mound. Hopefully, Mark Buehrle will hate the place enough to keep the Twins hits to a minimum and get out of there in a reasonable amount of time.
Thankfully the White Sox have only two more games to be played in the Dumpdome. Ever. The Twins are moving to a new ballpark next year, something called Target Field.
I think I'll learn to hate that one too.