100 Days, 100 Reasons to Visit Target Field: # 96: Blowing in The Wind

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100 Days, 100 Reasons to Visit Target Field: # 96: Blowing in The Wind

Ninety-six more days until baseball, seems like an eternity.  However, we must keep an eye on the prize.  Today I will discuss an article I dug up from Sept 2, 2009, where Scott Miller of CBS Sports touches upon the subject of fan blowing, cheating, and a pissed off Bobby Valentine.  Reason #96 No More false accusations?!?

 

Scott writes, "(In 1991) The Braves were sure that the Twins were doing funny things with the electric fans that helped keep the dome roof inflated. Atlanta and other teams over the years accused the Twins of turning on the fans to blow out when they were batting, and then turning them off and turning on the fans in the outfield to blow in when opponents were swinging.

"No doubt," Smoltz says. "No doubt. A lot of teams thought that. When Puckett hit that home run [in Game 6 in '91], it looked like the ball had an extra gear. And that one Puck caught against the Plexiglass [Gant's drive earlier in Game 6] ... one would speculate." Fueling the imaginations (or, not?) of opponents back then was the fact that the Dome had two giant intake ducts behind home plate that looked like stereo speakers on a boom box (and that sucked air in to be recycled back into the Dome elsewhere to keep the roof inflated).

Those are no longer visible today, as the Twins have added a couple of more rows of seating. But opponents back in the day were sure that was the source of the artificial jet streams. Bobby Valentine, when he was managing Texas, once attached streamers to the grate over a duct for a series attempting to prove the Twins were doing funny things with the blowers.

But place a loose piece of paper against the grates of those intake ducts, as Stelmaszek did the other day underneath the temporary stands, and the paper sticks to the grate as if by suction cup. "Bobby Valentine figured he'd come in here and play engineer for three days," Stelmaszek says.

"I spent years denying it," MacPhail says, chuckling. "And then Al Newman [former Twins infielder and coach] came out one day and said, 'Yeah, they're right.' And that put an end to that."

In 2003, as recounted in to Stew Thornley's book Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History, former Metrodome superintendent Dick Ericson admitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he sometimes would increase the number of fans blowing from between first and third bases, beginning in the bottom of the eighth, if the Twins were behind in a game, which would give the Twins two at-bats and their opponents only one under these circumstances. Ericson said he did this on his own, not at the request of the Twins or the Metrodome personnel.

On the other hand, for all of those opponents over the years who believed the Twins were rigging the Metrodome's blowers, Blyleven scoffs, bringing up a valid point: "I'm the one who gave up 50 home runs here," he says of his 1986 campaign -- still a major league record for homers allowed in a season."

Its almost preposterous to think that MLB would not look in to something as serious as this.  However, with the opening of Target field, opposing teams will have to accuse the Twins of other things as they no longer will be able to blame the Dome for "juicing" balls. Thanks to my good friend, John O'connor, for bringing this to my attention.

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