Twins rained out for first time since 1980, will play 2 today
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Baseball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- For nearly as long as Jake Nyberg has been alive, there had never been a rainout in Minnesota.
The 30-year-old St. Paul resident, along with an entire generation of Twins fans, grew up watching his team play under the dingy roof of the Metrodome, which protected the players and fans from the elements for 28 seasons.
The Twins moved outdoors to brand new Target Field this year, and their first rainout since 1980 came on Friday when steady rain caused the postponement of their game against the Baltimore Orioles.
"I've seen people tweeting 'I guess you miss that Dome now, huh?"' said Nyberg, who had tickets for the game. "No."
The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, with fans who had tickets for Friday's game able to redeem them for the nightcap.
The last time a Twins home game was rained out was Sept. 20, 1980, at the old Metropolitan Stadium. The Twins moved indoors in 1982 and, aside from a game in April 1983 that was postponed when snow caused the roof to collapse, Twins fans have grown accustomed to not having to check the weather before heading to the ballgame.
That was the case as well for the first 13 games at Target Field, which opened to rave reviews and unseasonably warm and sunny weather during the first homestand in April. Cooler weather and rain started to creep into the picture this week, including in Baltimore's 2-0 win in the series opener on Thursday night.
The rain kept coming all day on Friday, and with more showers in the forecast and possibly even some snow, the team announced the postponement about six hours before game time.
"We knew we were going to have some of these challenges," general manager Bill Smith said. "We've had a tremendous run of good weather and good games and great outdoor baseball. We'll get through this one."
Francisco Liriano, who was scheduled to pitch for Minnesota on Friday night, will start the opener of the doubleheader, with Scott Baker pushed back to the night start.
Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie will pitch for the Orioles, but the team did not announce in which order.
When plans were first announced for an open-air stadium, there was some trepidation that the cold weather in April and October would make life miserable for players and fans. All those concerns seemed to dissipate during a glorious opening homestand, with fans charmed by the sun on their faces, clear sightlines and breathtaking views of the downtown skyline.
Twins executive director of public affairs Kevin Smith chuckled out loud when asked if the team regretted making the move outdoors.
"Not even close!" he said.
The Twins and Orioles were scheduled to play Game 3 of their four-game series on Saturday afternoon, and Smith said the decision to postpone was made easier by the open date on Saturday night.
"If you can postpone and make it up within 24 hours, that's a pretty good deal," Smith said.
If fans were complaining about the inconvenience, Nyberg wasn't one of them.
"The only bummer for me is we're going to watch Baker instead of Liriano," he said. "For those who traveled a long ways, I feel bad for them. It is what it is. We wanted outdoor baseball and we got it."
Minneapolis resident Cristof Traudes had tickets to see Friday night's game with his wife.
"I think it's ridiculous to hear any people complain that just because we had this one rainout we should have a roof," Traudes said.
He was trying to trade his tickets with friends for the day game because he and his wife already have reserved tickets for "Iron Man 2" on Saturday night. So, apparently, Robert Downey Jr. trumps Justin Morneau?
"Yeah," Traudes said, "especially for my wife."
A rainout or two is an easy tradeoff for Nyberg to make. He lamented the baseball experience in the Metrodome, which was configured more for football and thus required fans seated on the baselines to crane their necks to see home plate.
Even worse were those beautiful Minnesota summer evenings, a limited resource in a state some derisively call "Southern Canada," when he had to walk into the stale building to watch a ballgame.
"I'm a pretty die-hard baseball fan," he said. "I went to the Dome a lot because I like baseball. For people who didn't have just an appreciation for the game, it was a hard sell on a nice summer night. Even when the team was really good.
"Now we've got what we wanted and you have to take the good with the bad."