Between the intermittent rain showers, the belligerent screaming fans to my immediate left and the drubbing the Twins took at the hands of the White Sox, my first exposure to U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday night was not exactly ideal. Still, it was an opportunity to watch the Twins outdoors, and The Cell certainly has some interesting features.
I wouldn't say that the White Sox' stadium has a great deal of character, but it's a nice ballpark. It's industrial, it's straightforward, it's huge... essentially, it's very Chicago. The Sox fans were a bit mean-spirited, but for the most part in a good-natured way. Certainly not as amicable as the fans in Milwaukee or Kansas City, but better than Oakland.
The most humorous part of the experience was when the lady next to me, sitting alone and wearing a White Sox shirt, kept asking me questions about White Sox players. "Which one is Swisher?" ... "Which one is Thome?" ... "Who is No. 23?" I'm thinking to myself, You're lucky I'm a pretty big baseball fan so I actually know the answers to these questions, but do you really think a guy wearing a Twins jersey and a Twins cap is the best source for information on Chicago players? Eventually she started asking me questions about the White Sox base coaches, at which point I had to end the conversation.
As for the Twins, well... whew. Bad. They've been outscored 33-9 over three games against the White Sox, getting horrible pitching and mostly terrible offense. It's not over yet, but so far this has been the worst series I can remember since the one in Detroit back in early 2006 where the Twins were swept and outscored 33-1 over three games.
Indeed, the Twins are spiraling. But should we really be surprised? I'll admit that even I had gotten caught up in how well the team was playing, to the extent that I was overlooking how unsustainable that success was. With all the magical comebacks, gutsy pitching performances and big clutch hits, I had come to gleefully ignore the plain facts that were in front of my eyes. Guys like Livan Hernandez, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn were not pitching well enough to continue consistently getting the kinds of results they were getting, and the offense was overachieving thanks to some ridiculous numbers with runners in scoring position. It's unfortunate that everything has come crashing down simultaneously, and all during the team's biggest series of the season up to this point. Over these first three games in Chicago, the Twins have ruined an opportunity to move closer to first place in the division, and instead reminded people why they were widely picked to finish fourth or fifth in the division prior to the season.
To draw one positive from the weekend, I'll say this: I was one of a select few Twins fans who actually got to see Delmon's first Twins home run in person! Yay?