Recently, the state of Minnesota has been caught in a Polar Vortex. Low barometric pressure + cold air = real temps of -25 degrees (or colder), almost unfathomable wind chills, glued-shut eyelashes, and numb fingers/toes. In other words, February in the Land of 10,000 (Frozen) Lakes.
For the first decade of my Twins-watching existence, I didn’t have to deal with any sort of weather thanks to the eternally 75-degree Metrodome. But once the franchise moved back into the great outdoors, I’ve pretty much ran the weather gamut.
In 2018, I attended a Target Field contest in which the first-pitch temperature was 27 degrees. Fortunately, cold alone can be schemed for with layers, hats, and gloves. Later that season, I recall sweating out a 100+ degree heat index scorcher. Again, though, that yellow orb in the sky can be mitigated with lotions, fluids, and perhaps even a passing cloud or two.
To me, the worst weather for the human body to experience is that of a little chill mixed with wind and rain (I probably shouldn’t ever reside in London or Seattle). As such, nothing can—or perhaps will—top my out-in-the-elements experience of April 27, 2018...
It started very innocently. A Friday night contest with two of my siblings. The Cincinnati Reds were in town for some interleague action, with Luis Castillo (the Reds pitcher, not the bygone Twins second baseman) toeing the rubber against Phil Hughes. First pitch temp? 53 degrees—not too bad for April in north country. But also some stiff 15 mph wind gusts, the kind that tend to swirl endlessly in Target Field’s upper bowl. Those would prove to be our ultimate undoing.
The evening began as a blast, with the Twins jumping on Castillo right away and building a 5-1 lead after the first frame. After 4 innings, the Twins were up 8-4. Even oft-maligned Logan Morrison had two hits (including a dinger) and three RBI, possibly his best single effort during his short-lived MN stint.
But that’s where things started to go south—and fast. In the top of the fifth, the Red Stockings hung a six-spot on the home team. That was about the same time the sun went down and the wind picked up.
In subsequent innings, the Reds extended their lead against Twins reliever David Hale (a name you could have given me until the end of time to guess and I still would never have remembered his MN existence). A light rain also began to fall.
At this point, it was fairly clear that the Twins were not destined to come out on top in this one, and precious few fans were sticking around to see it though. My brother left to do some Minneapolis bar-hopping, and it’s the only time I’ve forgiven him for leaving a game early. My sister and I, however, were at the mercy of public transportation.
The misery climaxed in the ninth inning. As Cincinnati continued to pound Hale—and then Trevor Hildenberger—the rain kept falling and the wind gusted wildly. In many situations, the umpires would have called a pow-wow and went into a delay. But after nearly four hours of play and seeking just a few more outs to make it official, the slog continued. Not only did the Reds extend their lead to 15-8, but the Twins commenced a long final frame of their own, sending six men to the plate to produce all of one run.
As my sister and I huddled in our seats, it was perhaps the only time in my baseball-attending history that I was actively wishing for a game to be finished. As we boarded the Northstar train to head home, we must have looked like—and certainly felt like—drowned rats.
The silver lining? As fate would have it, I also had a ticket—singular, as it would be awhile before those siblings rejoined my baseball outings—to the next day’s MIN/CIN tilt. In typical Minnesota fashion, it was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the Twins won handily.
Perhaps that is the lesson to be learned in all of this. Behind every monsoon rainstorm, wind cyclone, or polar vortex, there exists the promise of one of those glorious MN days we all dream about.
Say, have you looked at the forecast for this coming weekend? :)