COLUMN: ‘The great, numbered days of the Dome’

This is my weekly column for the Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune, posted in advance of today’s big Game 3 of the divisional series for the Twins. Go Twins!

The great numbered days of the Dome
By Aaron J. Brown

Today the Minnesota Twins take on the New York Yankees in Game Three of the divisional playoffs. Whether you know or care anything about baseball, this is one of those ubiquitous moments for our state. Even those who wish to ignore the game must make a principled stand, a conscious decision to tell their neighbors, “No, do not discuss this game with me. I reject your notion of what matters.” And who wants to be that guy?

Though the moment is already fading into lore, the Twins 12-inning victory over the Detroit Tigers in last Tuesday’s division championship tie-breaker game was widely praised as one of the greatest baseball games ever played in the Metrodome. Taut with pressure and drama, human failures and triumphs, most people I know had to stand up to bear watching the last three innings. Across the state, both physically and in the ether of the Internet, people gushed with emotion. I vowed in a Facebook status update to defy the normal standards of wardrobe at my workplace and wear Twins gear. The next day, I made good and drove into town wearing the pinstriped white home jersey and my typical khakis. I regret that decision.

What I had hoped for was to wear the jersey and have that just stand alone as my statement of solidarity and team pride. “Look at this jersey” I wanted my jersey to imply. “Now you know where I stand.” That’s not what I got. I basically lost a whole day to the same conversation.

“How about that game?” “I couldn’t believe it!” “Now the Yankees, hoo boy, that’s gonna be tough.” “Did you see it? Did you see the game? Did you watch it? Because I watched it.”

What more could I say to these comments? “Oh, ya!” I said. Again and again, each time more like dialogue from the movie “Fargo.” “OHHHH, YAAAAA!” By the end of the work day I was starting to wear down. I would have removed the jersey, but the t-shirt underneath also displayed a Twins logo. (Genius). The whole thing began to affect how I talked to people. I presumed that if anyone said anything to me it would probably have to do with the Twins. The result was that when people approached me about anything else – you know, work and stuff – I probably came across like a shell-shocked refugee trying to pretend that he’s not wearing a baseball jersey, defying my own plan for the day.

The Twins have rallied from behind, won the division, and made the playoffs other times in recent years. In fact, over the past eight seasons this seems to happen all the time. So why was last week so different? Why were so many people, myself included, so eager to wear their Twins gear around town, stopping each other to repeat the same words like a religious chant?

The answer for me is simple. The tiebreaker game against Detroit pulsed raw excitement out of the Dome like it had when I was a kid watching the storied games of 1987 and 1991. The grass was fake and greener than it should have been, but back then we didn’t know that baseball grass was supposed to be actual grass. Back then we didn’t know that the Twins weren’t supposed to win the World Series. Was it innocence or ignorance? Maybe it was just another time. A time before the steroids. A time before money changed the game. A time before Kirby Puckett got hurt, got sick and died. And those great times were back for one night.

This time we knew it would be over, though, because the Twins are moving to a nice new stadium they had to build to become more modern and competitive. The Metrodome will never see another baseball game and its days are numbered. So are ours. No one wants to talk about these things in the hallways at work so we wore our jerseys and made inane small talk. I guess that’s all you can do, now that I think about it.

Aaron J. Brown is a columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Contact him or read more at his blog His book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range” is out now.

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