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MLB - Welcome to the Jungle

By Ryan Noonan
Saturday, October 5th, 2002
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Welcome to the Jungle, baby, ain't no fun in games in here. At least, not if you're an opponent of the Minnesota Twins.

You see, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is where consecutive errorless streaks go to die. It's the place pitchers dread and outfielders fake injuries to avoid. Quite simply, the Metrodome is the greatest home field advantage in all of professional sports.

And everyone not wearing a Minnesota Twins uniform wants to see it torn down.

Opposing teams hate -- hate -- it. The ball skips across the turf like it has a turbo-charger taped to it. The bright white ceiling acts like a camouflage when the ball is in the air. It's like one of those lizards that can change its color to match its surroundings. You take your eye off the ball for a second, and you may never find it again. And the crowd; well, let's just say that when the Twins are playing in the playoffs and the place is filled to capacity, you better bring some ear plugs if you plan on hearing again the next day.

Major League Baseball hates it. That's right, everyone in baseball hates that place. Even the Spawn of Satan himself, Carl Pohlad, has done everything in his power to implode it into dust. It doesn't make enough money because they don't have 400 luxury boxes. No, just a bunch of regular seats where hard-working folks only have to put down $15 a seat.

The fans hate it. It's hard to describe unless you've been there. Uncomfortable seats, the football atmosphere, the obstructed view, the feeling that you're three miles away from the action; they all take away from the joy of the game. Not me, though, I'll take a seat in the Homerdome any time I'm in Minnesota.

I'm guessing the network television stations aren't too fond of it, either. It doesn't look like a baseball stadium from the outside. It reminds me of one of those plastic blisters you get when they ship you something breakable and you spend the next 15 minutes popping them until they're all flat ... or maybe that's just me.

No, no one likes the Dome; except, of course, the 25 guys that play there 81 times a year. These guys love this place. They love the fact that the ball moves faster than Tara Reid. They revel in the way the ball gets lost up in the ceiling. When looking over the Twins' lineup, there is a reason you can find three or four gold glovers; anything less would be unacceptable in Minnesota.

With the exception of right field, every one of the Minnesota Twins have had two years of practice at home. Two years of shagging fly balls, two years of finding the correct angle to take on a sharp grounder up the middle. They know where to hit it, and they know where they need to go to get it.

You want a few statistics to back it up? How about a 54-27 record at home, tied for best in the American League? And that's without a monkey backing them up. Not good enough for you? Then what does 23-3 in series-openers do for you?

Read that again -- 23-3 in the first game of a series in Minnesota. Not too bad, just a .869 winning percentage. You show me a team that can match that, and then I'll listen to an argument about best home-field advantage.

Maybe it's safe to say Minnesota wasn't the best team in the American League. They only won 40 games on the road and they were lucky enough to play in Cupcake Heaven, also known as the AL Central Division. But it's October now, and none of that matters once October rolls around.

And now that it's October, maybe we should talk playoffs. Okay, they've only lost one home game since 1987 in the playoffs. That includes two World Series titles where they show a perfect record of 8-0. Apparently, it's easier to score a date with the ultra-fast Reid than it is come into Minnesota and win a baseball game.

Sure, some people may call it a money-sucking, blister-like, eyesore; but for the 25 guys who survived contraction to win the American League Central division by almost 14 games, well, they just call it home.

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