"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wild & Outside

Ever been to a St. Paul Saints game?

We go a few times a year, to see baseball played outside for the fun of it. At Midway Stadium, there are no skyboxes, no fat contracts, no roof. You can get a beer for a buck, or a good beer for three. There's a grill behind the third base stands that flame-grills brats, polish sausages, hamburgers and chicken--culinary heaven on a warm spring evening. The baseball is played at about the level of the late innings of an MLB spring training game, and the between-innings diversions stretch from the cute to the frankly bizarre. The announcer is as likely to heckle the visiting team or the fans as he is to broadcast the bare facts of the game. We sat in the front row behind the home on-deck circle, and paid the munificent sum of ten bucks for the privilege.

I love major league baseball, don't get me wrong. The sheer talent and skill, the familiar names and faces, the rivalries and histories captivate me. But sometimes it's simply glorious to sit on an aluminum bench with a real beer in one hand and a real hot dog in the other (neither of which is easily acquired at the Dome), soaking up the late-day sun (which absolutely cannot be acquired in the Dome) and watching a bunch of guys I wouldn't recognize if I met them in line at the grocery store play ball.

Would I still go see the Saints if the Twins also played outside? Absolutely. There's air of innocence about the independent leagues--the taint of excess wealth that permeates the MLB and causes the haves-vs-have-nots tensions are absent in the Northern League. Team incomes are roughly equivalent and very low. Players make between $800 and $4000 a month during their abbreviated season. What the independent leagues lack in talent they make up for in exuberance. It's a different style of baseball, and it definitely has its own charm, and its own allure for dedicated and casual fans alike.

The Saints and Twins are rarely in town at the same time. If the Twins are on the road and the game's not on TV, think about heading over to St. Paul. It's a great time.

3 rejoinders:

TwinsJunkie sounded off...

I'd like them better if the games were taken more seriously.

Lisa sounded off...

The husband and I might be going on Saturday if the weather holds out. Something to do with the Emerald Society (St Pauls Irish Police) He is really craving some of those Mac & Cheese bites.

she-ra sounded off...

Just got tickets to Superhero night in July. They're giving away capes to 14&under. So jealous.