A Brief Twins Series Preview and Guide to Target Field

Since I'm the writer who lives in the Twin Cities, I've seen a lot of the Twins over the past...um, 24 seasons, whether I really wanted to or not. Since this is the Brewers' "traditional" interleague rivalry, they'll be playing the Twins twice. I'll have a more detailed preview up for the series in Milwaukee, but I'm going to send this one out early because I know that a lot of our readers will be heading for Minneapolis this weekend to take in a game or two or three at the new Target Field.

I'll keep the on-the-field stuff short. The Twins, before tonight's game, are currently in first place in the AL Central with a 24-16 record. They've started 2010 the same way they ended 2009 (including issues against the Yankees.) As for their players, J.J. Hardy's hurt, Justin Morneau's on fire, Jon Rauch can close a game without dramatics, and the Twins have 5 pitchers in their rotation who almost never walk anybody. The Brewers and Dave Bush will be dealing with Nick Blackburn's groundballing, pitch-to-contact ways on Friday; it's Gallardo vs. Kevin Slowey on Saturday, where I expect no Brewers reaching on BB. Manny Parra will be matching up against Carl Pavano on Sunday. Pavano's last outing against Toronto was about 80 kinds of awful, but I was at his previous start against Chicago last Wednesday and he was on. He'll eat loads of innings and he's picked up on the Twins' anti-walk ways, so just because Pavano's got the lazy and useless rep from his time in New York doesn't mean that it's at all true for his Twins incarnation.

I'm wondering how the Brewers are going to handle the DH situation this weekend. Before Edmonds went on the DL, it was probably safe to say that he could have done the job, but now that the Brewers are carrying large bunches of pitchers to make up for the bullpen fail before interleague started none of the bench bats can really do it. It's a shame that they're required to use the DH on Saturday as Gallardo is probably a better hitter than any of the DH alternatives. On the other hand, there won't be any need to pinch hit so much at AL home parks. As much as I thought it was horrible that Yost would use Tony Gwynn Jr. as a DH, that's the way the bench was built then and it's not any better now. The Twins, on the other hand, have so many DH options it's ridiculous. Jim Thome is indeed the ultimate DH but he's been splitting time with their previous DH Jason Kubel as well as a slightly injured Joe Mauer. Mauer had issues with his heel which made it difficult for him to catch but his bat is one of the most valuable they have, so it was worth having him in the lineup and letting the various backup catchers fail to hit. Thome can't hit lefties as well as he used to, so expect Kubel to DH on Sunday.

The Target Field preview and guide is after the jump.

Target Field looks wonderful. It looks really uniquely Minnesotan and fits in well with the rest of downtown. Instead of being cookie-cutter retro, it's a streamlined limestone and brushed metal park that is nestled right in between a bunch of parking ramps. Sure, there's a garbage burner right behind you on the third-base line, but you can't smell it (yet...it's been cool most of the time, but it's warm this weekend.) The Target Plaza right outside the stadium leading to Target Center is also a nice place. It contains statues of Twins greats, concession stands, and places to sit, stand, and gather. It's lively but it doesn't have the "annoying carnival" atmosphere that some people described the area right outside the Metrodome.

Getting there: The Twins have put up an extensive guide to all your options. My personal advice is to get there early. I-94 is under construction right now between St. Paul and Minneapolis, so plan accordingly. If you're staying in the suburbs or you're based out of the Twin Cities metro in the first place, your best bet may be taking public transportation. Metro Transit has a great guide to your bus and rail options. I've parked in the park and ride lot in my own city for two of the day games I've attended this year and picked up my bus home directly across from Target Field. My friends swear by the Hiawatha line light rail; just park your car in one of the park and ride lots, buy an event pass, and you're good to go. I'll probably be doing this myself for Friday night's game. As for parking, this Brewers series won't be competing with the local commuter ramps so there should be plenty of parking available all around downtown. A lot of the downtown ramps have event specials. If you'd rather or need to park closer, get there early to try to get into the A-B-C ramp complexes. I've parked in Ramp B, which opens right into Target Plaza. I had no problem leaving the ramp during rush hour, either.

Seating: I've sat in 3 different sections (324, 111, and 309) and I've had an incredible view in all three. Every seat points at the field. I've also had good reports from friends who sat in the Home Plate Terrace and Grandstand areas.) I'm willing to grant that there are some bad seats in terms of view in Target Field but I don't know where they are. I do warn that the seating bowl, especially in the upper levels, is incredibly steep. I sat in the last row of section 324 and I didn't bother leaving my seat for the rest of the game; my knees couldn't handle it. I'm sitting in section 127 on Friday and I'm looking forward to seeing the field from yet another angle.

Food and beverages: There are many, many more options for both food and drink at Target Field. The problem is that they are expensive and mostly available on the main concourse; there are certainly plenty of stands on the upper level but most of the "only available at one place" options are on the main concourse. Be prepared to wait in long lines, especially if it gets cold; the hot beverage carts are small and there aren't that many of them. (Also, if you're sitting in the 300 level and it's below 40 degrees, hot food is a bad idea as it's going to get cold instantly. Not going to happen this weekend, but for further reference....) There are also a few local beer carts on each level, in case what's on tap isn't to one's taste. I do have to warn you that, just like at the Dome, if you buy anything in a bottle they're going to take your bottle cap. Bring your own caps, because if you're in the 300s you're going to spill your drink walking up the steps. Beer vendors are always in the stands on all levels. I've noticed that the food and soda vendors tend to stick to the lower decks, especially right behind home plate. If you're in the 300s and don't want to leave your seat, you're stuck with beer and peanuts.

Target Field also has a few in-stadium restaurants. The only review I've seen of those was this one from that Canadian guy doing the 30-stadium thing.

If you'd rather bring your own stuff, only bring in food in soft-sided containers. The only beverages allowed are 32-ounce or smaller unsealed plain bottled water. There's a Target downtown on 900 Nicollet if you forget either at home. It's hot this weekend; if you're being cheap, bring all the water you can possibly fit as the stuff inside is $4. On the other hand, you can bring in empty reusable bottles and fill them inside. Friday's stadium giveaway in fact is a reusable bottle.

Merchandise: If you really want Twins or Target Field stuff, there are two team stores in the park, one on each level, as well as a hat store and many scattered merchandise kiosks. You can also find Twins gear, including Target Field inaugural season items, at the aforementioned downtown Target. (If you forgot your Brewers gear, stop off at the Target in Hudson, Wisconsin, right before the border; they had plenty of Brewers stuff in April, at least.)

Reaction to visiting fans: Probably the same as it was in the Dome. I noticed less heckling of Red Sox fans this year and nobody got on my friend for wearing Phillies gear to a game against the White Sox. Nor did I notice anyone getting hostile to the White Sox fans. I've never had a problem wearing opposing team clothing in Minnesota, but I also don't drink alcohol at ballgames. If you don't bother them, they probably won't bother you.

Locale: Target Field is closer to the main grouping of downtown restaurants and bars. Almost everything you'd want to eat or drink is within a few blocks. Nicollet Avenue has the "Eat Street" nickname for good reason--it's full of restaurants. I don't have any personal recommendations, but there are local food blogs that are a good place to start.

If you have any Minnesota, Twins, or Target Field questions for me, feel free to post them in the comments.

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