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Kevin Schnepf, Published March 28 2010

Schnepf: Backup plans a must as Twins return outdoors

Ten percent chance of rain. 61 degrees. That’s the extended forecast in Minneapolis for Friday – the day the Minnesota Twins will unofficially resurrect outdoor baseball.

No more Metrodome. No more Teflon baggy. No more lost pop-ups in the speakers. But perhaps more importantly, no more guarantees that the game will be played.

The brand, spanking new Target Field will be unveiled on Good Friday when the Twins play the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game. Fortunately for both teams and the 40,000 fans expected to fill Target Field, it appears the weather will be accommodating.

Saturday, when the two teams play again on the natural grass that was grown in Colorado, the forecast calls for 63 degrees … but a 60 percent chance of rain.

That’s the downside of outdoor baseball. And for folks like us who have a three-hour drive to the game, reusing a rain-out ticket stub for the rescheduled game is no easy task.

But the upside of outdoor baseball is worth the minimum ticket price of $10 (that gets you a view from the upper deck along the right-field line). Probably worth the $18 ticket that gets you in the left-field bleachers or the $20 ticket that gets you in the upper deck grandstand in right field.

When you start doling out $82 for a seat behind the dugout, then you start to question the value of outdoor baseball.

It’s been nearly three decades since Minnesota Twins’ fans could savor the outdoor atmosphere of a Major League Baseball game. The crack of the bat in the cool, night air. The distant echo of the hot dog vendor pedaling his product. The manicured grass – which I always admired when I watched the Twins play at Metropolitan Stadium (now a distant memory hidden under the confines known as the Mall of America).

As a kid, I remember my hero Jimmie Hall nearly racing to an inside-the-park-homer – before slipping on the water-downed grass rounding third base.

I remember Harmon Killebrew lacing a line drive off the top of the left-field fence, just out of reach of my dad’s outstretched hands. I remember left fielder Cesar Tovar turning around and flashing us the peace sign.

As a young adult, I also remember watching Billy Martin and the Yankees warm up in the rain. Not one pitch was thrown that day. Rain out.

Our backup plan was watching Rodney Dangerfield tell jokes at a nearby nightclub.

Lousy weather. That’s the downside of outdoor baseball.

When the Twins opened their home season last year in the Metrodome, the temperature outside was 36 degrees. That could very well happen again when the Twins officially open their home season on April 12 against the Boston Red Sox.

Just have a backup plan ready. Because when it comes to weather, outdoor baseball gets “no respect, no respect at all.”

Readers can reach Forum sports editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com