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Greetings from All-Star week in Minneapolis

Jul 14, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — This is my first-ever trip to the Twin Cities and, I gotta say, it’s quite a pleasant place so far. This kind of view helps:

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Target Field is a gem. Like almost all newer parks it’s comfortable, fan-friendly and functional. Unlike most of them, it’s aesthetically beautiful as well. Great lines, attractive materials and finishes and a nice integration with the surrounding city. I’ll get more chances to grok it all today and tomorrow, but it’s a gorgeous park.

And It’s absolutely gorgeous here in Minneapolis too. Last year’s All-Star week in New York featured temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and stifling humidity. Yesterday it was in the 70s with pleasant breezes. Today it’s only supposed to climb into the low 60s. Which may be too cool for the tastes of some of you but is absolutely ideal for pasty, thick-blooded people like me whose ancestors inhabited chilly, craggy, windswept British island shores for a few thousand years like mine did. Give me this stuff every day.

The city seems quite pleasant itself. Later this morning I will post something about my experiences with an item of local cuisine, but for now let me just say that Minneapolis seems to be a well-ordered and well-run place. The signage is good, the streets are clean, the people are pleasant and the light rail runs on time and to and from places I want and need to go. Of course, I’m sure Minneapolis has idiosyncrasies, inefficiencies, scandals and skeletons like every other city, but it does make a good first impression for people like me who are, more or less, in town for the convention, as they say.

My hotel is on the far east end of downtown — “the west bank,” apparently, just across the river from the main University of Minnesota campus. It’s a little less than two miles to the ballpark. Since I had the time and the weather was nice I decided to walk it. A couple of notable things on my walk:


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There used to be a big, ugly dome there that was unfit for baseball as God intended it, and which saw the twin crimes of (a) Kent Hrbek brutally assaulting Ron Gant at first base in the 1991 World Series; and (b) Later that Series, Jack Morris pitching one of the best games ever which, while well and good itself, is what launched 23 years worth of people claiming an outsized legacy for him that is truly annoying. Not that I’m still mad about any of that or anything.

Much cooler:

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That’s where Prince, The Revolution, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum and a zillion other Twin Cities bands called home on the way up and, actually, after they were already up. Minneapolis is an extremely underrated music town. One you sort of forget about until you think about the murderers row of talent that has come from here. The largest chunk of my walk was made with The Replacements playing on my iPod.

Oh, this s fun too:

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Probably means nothing to anyone under 35 or 40. But she can turn a world on with her smile.

Outside of Target Field a less smile-inducing statue:


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That’s Calvin Griffith, who owned the Senators and then moved them here to become the Twins. I guess the team’s long-time owner deserves a statue. I wish, however, carved at the base of the statue were the words he once said at a Lion’s Club dinner when talking about moving the team to Minnesota:

“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ballgames, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here.”

And it’s not like he said it during the Jim Crow era. He said it in 1978. He added comments denigrating nearly every player on the Twins and much about baseball. The Lords of the Realm, baby. The Lords of the Realm.

After taking all of that in, I took in The Futures Game. Bill wrote up what happened in that game yesterday. I wrote up what I think should happen with the game in the future. Short version: how much cooler would it be to have the Futures Game tonight, in prime time, with no regular season baseball games to compete with it? Let alone the World Cup. Instead, we’re getting the Home Run Derby. Which, no, I don’t suppose is going anywhere, but it’s not like people much care for it. Later today we’ll talk about the Derby and what some other options may be.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking around and seeing what I can find.

source:

There may even be some bold flavors to be found.

  1. sdelmonte - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Oddly, my boss is coming home from the Twin Cities this morning. I suspect she is oblivious to the fact that she’s leaving just as the baseball world arrives. I also doubt she went to the MTM statue, though she is pretty much the right age to relate almost precisely with Mary Richards.

    Not sure where to mention this, but as it took play in Minny, here seems good: Tony Clark was on Mike and Mike a few minutes ago. It’s the first time I’ve heard an interview with him. He gave some generally intelligent if non-committal answers to various questions, but came across as having a good grasp of the job. He also has an amazing voice for radio. I hope his gig with the union runs a long time but if it doesn’t, he should definitely go back to broadcast work.

  2. thefugitivekind - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Craig,

    Minnesota is working miracles on you. You’ve got hair!

    • paperlions - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      I am just curious how many phone numbers he got wearing that bad boy around.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      It’s like Guy Fieri with hipster glasses. And a backpack. And midwestern charm and sensibilities. Both with an affinity for malt-based brown liquors.

  3. baberuthslegs - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Certain selfies should not be posted online.

    • mybrunoblog - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Agreed. Small children who see that selfie might need years of therapy to recover. That thing is so bad it can’t be unseen. Damn, there goes my breakfast.

  4. happytwinsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    For your next culinary adventure, I’m afraid the closest White Castle is about 5 miles south east of you on Lake Street. However there’s a bunch of buses that will get you down to Lake Street and a bunch that run back and forth on Lake Street. If you keep your eyes open you might even be able to cop some weed while you’re at it.

    • Cris E - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      The new Green Line that runs into St Paul will drop you near a White Castle next to the state capital, if that’s your thing. (Also close to Sears, if you need to pick up a pair of Tuffskins or a decent set of wrenches. No sense wasting the trip.)

      • kopy - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        Hey, I ate at that White Castle last night!

        Somtimes a guy naps Sunday afternoon, and ends up restless and hungry at 10:00 PM. A few Jalapeno Cheese sliders always hit the spot.

      • happytwinsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Good idea. The White Castle on University is also within easy walking distance from the best book store in Minnesota (Snyders). Also, although it may not still be there, there used to be a plasma center across the street from it where Craig could pick up a some extra cash.

  5. zzalapski - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Downtown Minneapolis is going to be a cluster Tuesday night. In addition to the All-Star Game, there are also two concurrent sold out shows: Flaming Lips at First Avenue and Welcome to Night Vale at the Pantages.

    Plan your transportation accordingly. Even with the light rail, it’s going to take some time. Myself, I’ll be going on my bike.

  6. capeporpoise - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Sorry, but that looks nothing like May Tyler Moore – the one throwing the hat, that is.

  7. JB (the original) - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Yeah, no one here (meaning when I get home to Mpls from Rio tomorrow) liked Cal much either. I do like the park, but still can’t understand how people think the sightlines are that great. Check out this link: http://www.ballparkmagic.com/Obstructed.html . Now, maybe compared to old parks the views are better, but considering they got to start from scratch, I find the result disappointing, and that’s after attending over 100 games there in various locations.

    • Cris E - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Target Field is lightyears ahead of the Metrodome. Even when configured for baseball every seat faced the 50 yard line (which was frequently still visible in July.) By and large an awful place to watch a game, but back in my single days when the temps were high and I had no AC I’d buy a $4 outfield seat and bring a radio. That wasn’t terrible.

  8. pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Have some local beer while you’re in town. Indeed Brewing and Surly are probably the best two large-scale local breweries and I highly recommend both. Anything from either is typically very good.

    And Minneapolis remains one of the most underrated music towns in the country still.

  9. Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    I’ll offend people in Minneapolis when I say this, but that was the city that convinced me I’m not cut out for big cities. I visited there in 1998 for about two weeks. It was incredibly dirty (wander downtown at 2AM and look at all the trash just strewn everywhere), there were police sirens all night, the bus system was a joke and the drivers actively antagonistic, the freeways were confusing and the Mississippi smelled like sewage.

    There were two redeeming qualities of that trip –

    1) There is an Italian restaurant in the ground floor of the Mall of America that was phenomenal, especially their baked spaghetti which is still the best version I’ve found anywhere
    2) I saw my first major league game, against the Orioles, on the third base side where I could watch Cal. Maybe that dome wasn’t a great stadium, but growing up in a town with a low single A team it was amazing to me.

    Oddly enough a job offer forced me to reconsider my big city stance only a year later. Fortunately Seattle demonstrated that not all big cities were like what I had seen in Minneapolis (or San Francisco when was much younger). Maybe its cleaner now with less crime. I have no idea, I’ve only gone past it once since then on a 2008 road trip (and the Italian place was still there and still great). But in 1998 it was one of the worst places I’d ever seen.

    Anyways, sorry if this post is hated, but it is just my impressions and experience. I’m sure there is lots to love that I was just not aware of.

    • kander013 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      If your idea of a phenomenal Italian restaurant was on the basement floor of the Mall of America, and you grew up in a town with a Single A ball club, then yes, the city life might not be for you.

      Must be from Iowa.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        I stand by the restaurant. I’m Sicilian and have both made and enjoyed some truly great Italian food. This place rated. I was as surprised as anyone else that it was in a mall of any sort. That said, the best place I know in the Seattle area is in a strip mall and nobody would assume its great from the outside, but the owner happens to be a former chef at a five star restaurant in NYC and this is his retirement. You never know where you’ll find a great place to eat.

        As for the rest, yes, I am from a smallish city. Eugene, Oregon. That said, Seattle has been good to me, and a great demonstration that larger metro areas do not have to be garbage strewn, crime ridden and with terrible public transportation. Its not perfect here by any means, but its better than what I have experienced in other big cities and I’ve been to many since, ranging from Detroit to Beijing.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        For those who care, this is the restaurant: http://www.tucci-benucch.com/

      • kander013 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        Well, I’d suggest another visit to the Twin Cities. Al Vento’s and Bar La Grassa are much better than TB in terms of Italian places. 1998 was a long, long time ago.

        Your range of cities from Detroit to Beijing don’t doesn’t imply a great range. Beijing is the high water mark?

        It is what it is though. When major events take place in the Twin Cities, the national media loves to pick up what a great area it is here, and all the positives. When the event is over, the hype is gone. Oh well.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        kopy below said that things have changed and the 90’s were a bad time. Based on that I’d give it another shot if I had a reason to. I wasn’t implying that Beijing was the high water mark, although I guess paired with Detroit it might appear that way. Only that I’d been to cities larger than anything you can find in the USA (seriously, 20 million in the metro area and 30 million with the suburbs, its insane). The air quality in Beijing was the worst I’ve ever experienced in my life. The food was not impressive. But overall it was a unique experience.

    • kopy - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      It is absolutely cleaner now with less crime, and the lowest unemployment in the country. The mid-to-late 90s were a much different time.

      source: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/30/us/nice-city-s-nasty-distinction-murders-soar-in-minneapolis.html

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        That’s good to hear. It was really quite a shock to me at the time. There were people actively dealing and using drugs on the bus, I asked the friend I was visiting why the driver did not do anything or call the cops and he said it was because the driver did not want to get the crap kicked out of them. It was quite honestly a scary place to be, at least for someone with my level of experience in big cities at the time.

        Next time I’m road tripping maybe I’ll try to check out the city center again. If I can find it. The stupid freeways still loop like crazy around everything and you can get stuck going in circles even with a GPS. Or at least you could back in 2008 when I last passed through.

      • Cris E - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        If I can find it. The stupid freeways still loop like crazy around everything and you can get stuck going in circles even with a GPS.

        The highways still aren’t great, but most GPS systems have gotten better.

    • pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Minneapolis is basically the Seattle of the Midwest, you know. Not sure about 1998 (which was almost 20 years ago…), but it sure is now.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        And to be completely fair, I’ve heard that Seattle in the 80’s was dirty, crime-ridden and full of decaying infrastructure. There are cycles, and as I said above I’d reconsider it if I have a reason to visit in the future.

      • Cris E - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Flannel was big in MN well before Seattle found it and we’re still wearing it long after everyone else moved on. That might be more a matter of function over form, now that I think about it…

      • pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        I’d point out, as well, that every city has it’s areas of rot and filth and decay and garbage and crime. Whether you’re in Minneapolis, Seattle, NYC, Detroit, Washington, Chicago… there are always places that are gorgeous and safe and a pleasure to experience… and then there are always some of the other. That’s a pretty even constant throughout time, but sometimes the degree of degradation changes, or the exact location shifts.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        I am certain there were some nice locations back then, but none of them were found by me. I was taken to the highlights as per my friends there, and really the thing that I most remembered was not the places we went but the danger in getting there and the filth that was literally everywhere. Maybe those things naturally stick out more than others, but seriously it was so bad that I felt I’d never be able to live in a larger city and have any level of happiness.

        As for Seattle, again its not a utopia. I have no clue if its better or worse than the Minneapolis of today. I can say, however, that you can walk outdoors at 2AM in any neighborhood and be safe. Violent crime is a big deal here because it is pretty rare. Even the lower income neighborhoods are clean and reasonably well maintained (I get a kick out of people here who complain about the roads, I’ve driven in Michigan a lot, nobody here has any clue what bad roads look like). And public transportation is clean, reliable and friendly if a bit slow. From the sounds of it, these things describe Minneapolis today, but they did not appear to in 1998, which is when I was visiting.

    • moogro - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Parts of Minneapolis 70’s-80’s one could say were run-down. After that era, you’d have to go looking for problems.

      • Reflex - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        As pointed out above, I was there in the late 90’s and it wasn’t good. As kopy mentioned, crime was a problem then, and the other problems that tend to go along with it. I’m glad its improved substantially since then, however. But the problems certainly persisted past the 80’s.

      • moogro - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        fair enough. it’s all relative to what you’re used to.

  10. entitymn - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Craig,

    1) Take the green line towards Saint Paul, and get some Vietnamese food. Pho at Ngon Bistro or Saigon, croissants at Trung Nam, etc.

    2) Take the blue line towards the airport/MOA, and stop at Minnehaha Park. Eat seafood at Sea Salt (Sri Lankan curry!), drink a local beer (Surly Furious!), and enjoy the falls, which are ragin’ right now.

    3) Hit the taproom at Fulton, just up the street from Target field. If there is a food truck there, it will almost certainly be good.

    4) Don’t trust Gleeman. I hear he is a very sick person.

    5) You’re in the State of Hockey – skip the Home Run Derby tonight, and go catch a free hockey scrimmage at the Xcel for players in the Wild farm system. That’s where I’ll be with my five-year-old.

    • pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      If you stop into a liquor store to sample any of the good non-tap, not-in-a-bar stuff, I highly recommend an Indeed LSD from the tall-bottle section. Anything Surly or Indeed, on tap or otherwise, is top-notch local stuff.

      And yeah, I second the recommendation to go see Minnehaha Falls right now.

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