I should have believed my hands the minute I stepped out of the team hotel on Monday morning.  The sun was shining, the sky was clear, but the temperature was screaming, "Take a cab!"  

I declined, and it didn't take long for my hands to turn several shades of red.

I usually walk to the ballpark on the road if it's close enough, and Target Field is within 15 minutes of our hotel.  How cold can it be, I thought?  Besides, this is Opening Day and I wanted to get a feel for what the vibe was like in downtown Minneapolis.
Five minutes into my stroll, I realized I had made a poor choice.  Not only was it barely over 30 degrees outside, but the streets were quiet and no sign of Opening Day excitement existed.

In all fairness, the weather outside was dreadful and the Twins are not expected to contend this season.  It may be a long summer in Minneapolis.  Despite the fact that the Twins have one of the premier baseball venues in the world, the dawn of a new season was not enough to produce a sellout crowd.

The entire walk I couldn't help but to think what downtown Detroit will be like on Friday.  Bad weather and bad teams have never stopped Tigers fans from swarming downtown to celebrate a new season.  Heck, people stand in line outside Comerica Park in the of dead winter to attend TigerFest, and at that point the season is still over a month away.

As game time drew closer, I was shocked at how many seats were still empty.  The response to player introductions in Detroit is raucous and heartfelt.  Monday it was rather quiet.  Torii Hunter seemed to get a bigger response than Joe Mauer.  Torii Hunter hasn't played for the Twins since 2007.

Subpar teams can be used as an excuse in other cities, but not Detroit.  In 2004, one year after the Tigers lost 119 games, the opening day crowd at Comerica Park, was 42,121, a sellout.

Perhaps it is the fact that only a handful of teams can boast the deep baseball history and tradition that exists in Detroit.  I spent seven years broadcasting on the west coast and have witnessed opening days in many different big league ballparks, but not many produce the passion displayed by Tigers fans.

Minneapolis is a fabulous town.  Its people are friendly and its venue is second to none.   When the Tigers return home on Friday though, the Motor City will once again show the baseball world how Opening Day is done.




04/02/2013 17:21

You were kind enough last year outside the team hotel in Minny to say hi to my Wife and I. Great walking city. Enjoy your blog!

04/02/2013 21:24

Mario, you and Rod back in the booth are a sure sign of spring around here.... Will hoist the ol' English "D" flag opening day!

12/18/2014 06:07

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