Both houses of the legislature passed the Hennepin County/Twins bill early this morning. There was a scary moment when a couple of rogue senators tried to send it back to conference committee to add a referendum to it, which would have killed the bill and negated thousands of hours of work by hundreds of people. But that amendment was voted down and the ultimate bill passed by a margin of two votes 34 (Puckett) to 32 (Gladden). Kirby has to be laughing in heaven over that one.
Governor Pawlenty has said he will sign it during the week some time. So three cheers for Jerry Bell, Mike Opat, Dave St. Peter, Steve Sviggum the Governor and all those who had held fast to the ideal of the beauty of outdoor baseball and persisted in leading this process to its historic conclusions!
What does this mean for this Twins fan? I can hardly describe it. But allow me to dream for a few minutes.
I drive up with my son from my home on the edge of the Big Woods and park at the Mall. We hop aboard the light rail, which takes us to Best Buy Field and drops us off right out in front. It's a chilly May Minnesota day with puffy white clouds and a good northwest breeze.
We make our way through the wide, windowed concourses to our seat four rows above the visitors dugout along the first base line, which my mortician friend has retained from his Dome season tickets. We're closer to the field in the sold-out stadium than I've ever been.
And we're not only on time to watch the Twins warm up on the grass field, we actually make the National Anthem. The flags flap in the breeze above the score board in center field and the clouds cast shadows on the players, who take off their caps along the base lines for the singing of the National Anthem.
After the baritone belts out that last notes, the players run out to their positions. The outfielders play catch: Jason Kubel in left, Denard Span in center and Michael Cuddyer in right.
Justin Morneau is tossing balls to the infielders: David Winfree at third, Jason Bartlett at short, Alexi Casilla at second. Johan Santana is warming up with Joe Mauer behind the plate. He throws down and Bartlett catches and applies a shadow tag of an imaginary runner.
The umpire yells "Play Ball" and we're underway as Juan Uribe of the White Sox steps in to face Santana. I sip my Summit Extra Pale Ale, and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for this beautiful day for a baseball game.
The game goes well. The Twins win. The sights, sounds and smells put me in a little trance as I keep score and wonder how far Morneau's homer went over the right field bleachers. It's a little slice of heaven.
I get a little sunburned, but I don't notice until I'm sitting next to my son on the train back to our car. And I don't care. This has been one of the greatest moments of my life and I'm ensured that I can go to see my beloved Twins at this beautiful ballpark as long as I live. And my son and grandkids can as well.
That is what this morning's votes mean to me. I never again have to worry about losing the team I love more than anything except God and my wife and child. And I can look forward to the day when the wind takes a fly ball off the bat of Justin Morneau over the right field wall towards the Minneapolis downtown skyline.