The secret of Minnesota baseball, where weather is hope

The typical opening day of baseball in Minnesota usually qualifies as "winter like." PHOTO: Joe Biewala, Flickr Creative Commons license

The typical opening day of baseball in Minnesota usually qualifies as “winter like,” demonstrated by this scene from Opening Day 2013. The All Star Game will be played amid temperatures that are several degrees warmer. PHOTO: Joe Biewala, Flickr Creative Commons license

It’s probably for the best that the weather is a little cool for tonight’s Major League Baseball All Star game at Target Field in my state’s capital of St. Paul, Minnesota. After all, the national press will need to toughen up some before the Super Bowl held at our new open air stadium in January of 2018. The only down side of the chilly temperatures is the refrain we hear so often here in the North Star state: “how can you LIVE in a place like this?”

Ah, time for the old standard responses: You can dress for the cold, but you can’t dress for the heat. No earthquakes. No tsunamis. For those of us here in the woods up north, you don’t see much for tornadoes. Some floods by the rivers, but everyone knows about that. The people are nice when you talk to them, which most of us avoid doing for personal reasons.

The secret is, of course, that Minnesota has perfect weather about 50 days a year and that weather is so good, so unremittingly reaffirming, that we endure the rest of the year’s slings and arrows chasing the same high. That’s why we get the shakes when winter lasts into May; it’s pure, unadulterated withdrawal, and our behavior bears that out. You can last weeks on the promise of good weather around the bend. I know families that book ten years of bad weather resort vacations because one good year is worth it. One good year will flash before your eyes when you die. We know this because the sick and dying whisper it with their last breath. “The sun shone and the bugs weren’t too bad; the water was warm and the fish were biting. The light blinked through the green leaves and danced on the water and I knew that my small being had a place in this vast universe.”

This is the appeal of Minnesota, and the appeal of Minnesota baseball where the years 1987 and 1991 justify decades of abject mediocrity. This is where baseball is one part sport and one part hope for the human race, evidenced in this popular Jim Caple ESPN feature story about Minnesota’s vibrant baseball culture.

Yesterday, the Home Run Derby was conducted in some genuinely unpleasant conditions. Today looks much better, albeit a little cool. Nothing wrong with it being cool. Keeps the bugs down. Makes the coffee taste better. No harm. Clear skies. Play ball.

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