The Common Man spent his weekend making slow circles around the inside of the Metrodome in the land of his birth, enjoying another successful TwinsFest.
The Common Man managed to get in front of Justin Morneau (don’t drop the torch, Justin, please. Enough Minnesota athletes have had fumbling problems lately), Jack Morris, Tony Oliva, Jim Thome, Denard Span, Scott Baker, Michael Cuddyer, Kevin Slowey, Francisco Liriano, Jason Kubel, JJ Hardy, Jesse Crain, and Official Twins Reliever of the Blogosphere Pat Neshek. He got to meet polite and fresh-faced youngsters like Aaron Hicks (who the ladies will love), Kyle Gibson, and Carlos Gutierrez. (As an aside, The Common Man was really impressed with little-known Twins pitching prospect Cole DeVries. DeVries made a point to interact with every kid in the line and had a quick smile, good sense of humor, and a genuine warmth. DeVries had two good years in 2007 and 2008 before struggling at New Britain last year, and saw his BB/K drop for a third straight year. As a 25 year old at AA, Cole will be facing a make-or-break year in 2010, and The Common Man will be pulling for him.)
In addition, The Common Man, along with good friend of the blog Bill at TDS, were totally big-leagued by former Twins 3B Corey Koskie, so that was fun. Also, The Common Man shopped for baseball cards with Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer (ok, so maybe Bremer was just traveling a similar route) and managed to pick up this 1955 Topps Don Mossi card for $2.50:
Fig. 1 Because you can't turn down a face this ugly.
But while The Common Man's TwinsFest was a terrific experience, the day did not go as well for several others The Common Man met/overheard over the course of the weekend. As a public service, in order to help you out next year, The Common Man generously presents his 11 Rules for TwinsFest:
1) Don’t show up early on Saturday. The lines at the door quickly turn into mosh pits as a desperate group of souvenir dealers, housewives, young blondes in tight clothes, and small unhappy children with over-zealous fathers crowd the doors so they can race to get Joe Mauer’s autograph. You will just be cold, cranky, and trampled by the time you get inside the gate and weasels who showed up as the orderly line devolved into chaos will get in before you.
2) Always go with a buddy. Bill and The Common Man spent a lot of time in line together, allowing us to conduct two fantasy drafts of current and former Twins (25 man rosters, one squad based on value while a Twin, the other based on overall career value). Also, if you get in the Justin Morneau line at 9:00, and he doesn’t start signing until 11:00, each of you will have time to slip away and get Denard Span’s autograph in the meantime.
3) Mustard has perfected jeans-seeking technology. We are losing the arms race.
4) Bring money. Lots of money. If you want autographs, TwinsFest is expensive. Minor leaguers are free, but current and former Twins can run from $10/panel to $30 for a Hall of Famers (Carew, Molitor, Killebrew, etc.) Keep in mind that you may need to buy baseballs and other souvenirs for players to sign. An official MLB ball may cost $11-15 at the event. If you’re getting an unofficial ball, make sure it is made with real leather and not glossy. You can find these for around $5. If you have no intention of ever selling your autographs (The Common Man plans to pass his along to The Boy), this is a good strategy to keep the overall price down.
Fig. 2 A good start.
5) Keep your program. The Common Man knows this is hard to believe, but some players’ signatures are hard to read. Particularly if you plan to get the autographs of minor leaguers, it’s good to have the program so you can remember whose autographs you’re getting (or got last year) and can follow their career during the season.
6) Think carefully about bringing your small child to TwinsFest. Babies who can ride in backpacks or Bjorns are probably fine. Kids between 1-2 years old are ideal. They are cute, but relatively agreeable and quiet. And The Common Man says this next part as the father of a three-year old: your three-year old is not equipped to stand in line for 3 hours to get Joe Mauer’s autograph. There is a lot to do at the Dome, but it is not aimed at really young kids. Five or six years old is about when TwinsFest starts to get viable, but avoid longer lines (get the free autographs of the minor leaguers, or some of the current/former Twins down on the playing field). Also, please don’t put your kid on a leash; that’s just uncomfortable for all of us.
7) Do not expect to get a lot of face time with your favorite players. The lines need to be kept moving (because trampling could occur if Joe Mauer’s not signing at a steady clip). Also, you can’t ask players to pose in pictures with you. Get them while they’re signing your stuff, or signing someone else’s (no one will ever know). You may be able to double your time with a guy if you’re working in tandem with a less talkative partner (sorry about that, Bill), but you’ll still have 15-20 seconds, tops. So enjoy them while you can.
8) No matter how hopeful you are, unless you plan well in advance, you are unlikely to get Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau’s autograph. Actually, that goes triple for Mauer. With a half-hour to go for his hour-and-a-half session, The Common Man took an informal poll of people waiting. Almost all of them thought they were going to get Mauer’s autograph. These were people who were 500-750 spots away from the front of the line. It was sad.
Fig. 3 It can feel like this.
To get in to see Joe or Justin, you need to be there early and be willing to sacrifice other autographs you could be getting in the meantime.
9) Do not drink at TwinsFest. It’s just unnecessary. There are a ton of people, it’s morning or early afternoon, you’re going to get jostled, and your beer comes in a plastic cup. Either you or the Metrodome floor is going to get covered in Miller Genuine Draft. And nobody wants that.
10) Coats are a pain in the ass. The Twins have missed a golden opportunity by not working out some kind of coat check system. It’s January, so everyone is wearing their heavy jackets, particularly when they show up at 8:00 and the gates open at 9:00. But then you have to carry your jacket around with you the whole freaking day. The Common Man would have gladly payed $3-5 to have someone else mind his jacket while he walked around the stadium in comfort. As all the proceeds for the event go to charity, nobody should complain about this added expense. This is a great money-making proposition that The Common Man cannot believe has gone unaddressed. Twins, contact The Common Man. He has a detailed plan (with diagrams), and several other terrific promotional ideas (Why aren’t there batting cages for adults? Wouldn’t many of the 10,000 people in attendance, ALL OF WHOM ARE BASEBALL FANS, want a turn in the cage for $3? Also, why has no one ever thought to let the fans onto the field after a game and project a movie on the canvas of the dome???). Seriously Twins, you don’t know what you’re missing.
11) If you enjoy people-watching, TwinsFest is a must-see. In addition to grown men wearing jerseys with their nicknames written across the back (really, you’re the Iron Horse, 45-year old guy with a grey goatee, Zubaz, and a beer gut? OK, if you say so), you get to see the latest in Baseball Annie-wear (tight jerseys (particularly of the player whose line they are standing in) tied above the midriff, a lot of layering with lacy fringed tops, unrealistically long blonde extensions, Bump-Its, high heels (you do know you’re standing in line all day, right?), and charcoal-dark eyeshadow that cakes the eye-socket). My God, it’s like they’re a 16 year old Twilight fan auditioning for American Idol.
Fig. 4 What do you mean this show isn't classy?
Also, you get to enjoy the little kids decked out to the nines in Twins-related gear (always a highlight, especially if the kid isn’t ugly or crying). Plus, you get to enjoy the following categories of Twins-fan:
and, of course, The Whaaaaaaa? (Otherwise known as the Holy-shit-turn-around-slowly-do-you-see-that-guy-no-that-guy-the-guy-with-the-thing-what-is-that-oh-God-he’s-looking-at-us-turn-away-don’t-look-did-you-see-it-what-the-hell-was-that?)
The Common Man also saw an otherwise very attractive girl with the strangest eyebrows he had ever seen. Were they drawn on with a Sharpie? They sure as hell could have been. However, without touching them to be sure, The Common Man's guess is badger fur. Really, if Minka Kelly can't pull this off, what hope do you have?
The Common Man hopes this will be helpful as you plan your TwinsFest (or really, any fan fest) next year. Stay tuned to this blog for the rest of this week for more articles born out of TwinsFest. Seriously, there's good stuff on tap.