I used my iPad to take a photo at Target Field so that I could send the photo immediately to my friend Kevin Ingraham, a fully-certified sports fan (except he won’t go curling with me). Kevin is a huge Texas Ranger baseball fan; he even purchased tickets to the World Series last year and flew to Arlington to attend a couple of games. He is such a sports nut that he can not turn a game off and go to sleep until it is over. Hardcore. Certified. Nut.

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Kevin is a fellow firefighter and I used to enjoy watching the games with him at work. But I never really understood why anyone would go nuts about baseball. The season starts while snow is still falling in April and ends when snow is falling again in late October. In between those extremes, action occurs at a glacial pace, millions of pitches, foul balls, conferences on the mound, and no single event makes a bit of difference. Yet Kevin will watch with rapt attention as the batter taps his shoes superstitiously, the pitcher picks up the rosin bag, the third baseman creeps closer to the grass and the runner on first tries to get a half-step closer to the next base.

If you examine that last sentence carefully, you will see that nothing has actually occurred. So I came up with a great idea; this sport is so stupid, why don’t we just get rid of all the games played in May, June, July, and August? Think of all this time it would save us, time that we could put to productive use. I would often proffer this idea to Kevin, and Carl, and Walt, and Dan. They would usually tell me to be quiet because they were watching the game. Dan would be the first to get up and leave the kitchen, followed rapidly by Carl and Walt. But Kevin would remain and we would discuss meaningless topics about a meaningless game.

So, the original question was “is baseball stupid . . . or is it just me?” I was thinking this as I rushed to the game last Friday night in Minneapolis and I started to make a checklist.

1) I was late. When I got off the train right there at Target Field, it was already in the 5th inning. I walked up to the gate. I could smell the hotdogs, hear the crack of the bat, and the roar of the crowd. I asked the gate attendant if I could buy a ticket. He said no, you could only go to the main gate for a ticket which is a half a mile away, on the other side of the stadium. I tried to talk my way in; I’m cycling across the United States, it’s the fifth inning, it’s the last place and second-to-last place teams. “I can’t let you in” he replied. Now to me that means that if he “can’t” then someone can. “Who can let me in? “Nobody can, you have to go to the other side of the stadium. (I bet if I had my fireman’s ax I could have gotten in). I gave up and asked how to get to the main gate. He pointed and said “Walk through the ramp, take the escalator, it’s on the other side of the building”. I acquiesced when I probably should have gone downtown, a block away, and watched the game on a television at a local bar.

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2) I walked around the corner and observed a ramp going down into a tunnel under the massive structure. The sign said “No mopeds, bicycles, or non-motorized equipment.” It did not say anything about pedestrians. There was a sidewalk. I followed it for a half mile to the other side of the stadium and found myself on a limited access highway. No escalator. I walked back and told the guy that I followed the only ramp I saw and it put me on a highway. He told me that was not the ramp, led me to the corner, and pointed to a door in the bus terminal. Go in that door, through the ramp, up the escalator. I dutifully followed his more specific instructions. A door, a hallway, an escalator, a promenade. There was not a single stupid ramp between me and the main gate. “Ramp” is Minnesotan for parking garage. It does not mean a gently elevated incline plane allowing wheeled traffic where stairs would be inappropriate.

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3) it was getting later in to the game and I was worried that I would not be able to purchase a beer (last call is in the 7th inning). There was only one ticket booth open. I tried to explain to the man that I should get a reduced-price ticket and I had to get it fast, because I needed to get in and I needed purchase a beer. He explained to me that no discounts were allowed but that I could purchase the cheapest ticket available for $19 (to watch the last place and second-to-last place teams battle for last place). I acquiesced and ponied up the cash.

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4) I rushed in and headed directly to the beer stand. I had made it successfully and I paid $8.25 for a lite-beer after paying a $19 cover charge.

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5) I asked the usher where my seat was. He laughed and pointed to the very upper-deck, back half a mile across the stadium, about 500 feet directly above where I had gotten off the light-rail. If they had let me in the first time, I would have been happily sitting In my nosebleed seat, watching a bunch of ants in funny uniforms running around on the lawn. Maybe they thought I needed the exercise. I was beginning to think they knew I was coming and they were having fun with me.

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And that is how I beat baseball at the stupid game. As for the Twins, they made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth. They closed the deficit from 4-1 to 4-3 and with two outs they had a base runner on third. The batter swung at the first pitch, the ball lazily popped up into foul territory, and the third baseman clutched it in his glove as gravity pulled it back to Earth. They all walked off.

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