Baseball at the Metrodome Coming to an End, Chicago White Sox Fans Rejoice
Sox fans dread the annual trips to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Bad things seem to happen to the Palehose on a regular basis in that building. Well-hit fly balls that would be well out of the park in Chicago fail to reach the seats. Routine grounders turn into Twins' singles on the Astroturf. All types of liners and bloopers result in extra bases for the Twins while the Sox have to fight and claw for every single.
Even when the Sox win in Minnesota like they did today, it turns out to be a major challenge. Despite leading by five runs on two separate occasions, the Sox needed a double play with the tying run on second to finally clinch the game.
The Twins have finished ahead of the Sox in the standings for most of this decade, and the head-to-head results in that park have been a major factor. The Sox are 33-48 in the Metrodome since the Sox division title in 2000.
They went 2-7 in the Dome in 2003 when they finished four games behind the Twins in the standings, and it took a miracle to avoid a similar result last season when they went 1-8 in Minnesota.
Though it doesn't make Sox fans feel any better, they're not the only ones to be victimized by the Twins' home-field advantage. The Twins have finished with a winning percentage of 60 percent at home in five of the last seven years and are 27-20 so far in 2009.
The Twins have successfully built their team to win in their park for the last several years. The Metrodome is a below average park for homeruns that generally allows a decent number of doubles and triples, with plenty of singles thanks to the hard surface and quick infield.
Using strong defensive teams that also feature good contact hitters, team speed and pitchers with strong control, they have thrived of late despite a low payroll.
From the Sox perspective, their team couldn't be much more poorly constructed to win in the dome. Recent Sox teams have been built around powerful sluggers with limited speed. While that approach has been fairly effective in the much more hitter-friendly US Cellular Field, they often struggle to string together hits in Minnesota.
There also seems to be a mental aspect to their struggles, when things start to go wrong for the Sox they rarely seem to recover.
That is why this writer, like many Sox fans I'm sure, was quite happy to hear that the Twins' new park that will open next year will be an outdoor stadium on natural turf. While the dimensions are relatively similar, it's hard to imagine that the natural field will play anything like the old turf field, and the wind should be a factor.
These changes could drastically change the dynamics of the Central Division in the future. If the Twins lose that home-field advantage that has helped them so much in the past, that will make things considerably easier for their rivals.
If nothing else it will make me feel better knowing that my least favorite park that is home to my least favorite team will no longer be there after this season.
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