Many people may consider Joe Mauer's recent contract signing the most significant news in relation to the upcoming 2010 Minnesota Twins season. Some may consider it the loss of their star closer, Joe Nathan. Personally, I think what is going to turn out to be the biggest news of the Twins season is the loss of their home-field advantage at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
It may be one of the most maligned baseball stadiums in baseball history, but it played a significant role in the Twins winning five American League Central Division Championships in the past decade and a total of seven since 1982. It also contributed to the franchises' only two World Series Championships in 1987 and 1991.
The Twins won 475 games in the first decade of the new millennium without making it to the World Series. In contrast, some may consider the teams with the biggest home-field advantage the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. With all of the prestige an history between Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, some teams look awestruck when they play on those fields.
The Yankees have since moved into the New Yankee Stadium (which churned out its first World Series Championship this past season) but over the first decade of the 21st century the Yankees accumulated 514 home wins, only 39 more than the Twins. The Boston Red Sox might play in the most recognizable stadium, arena, or ballpark in the country in Fenway Park, where they've won a total of 496 home games in the past decade. The Metrodome may have been the ugliest, dullest, and most baseball unfriendly stadium there ever was, or will be, but Twins fans can not deny the fact that it brought them some unexpected success throughout its 28 years of use as a Major League ballpark.
For example, the weird bounces off the insanely hard Astro-turf during their two runs to the World Series. The balls that continually would get lost in the roof by opposing teams led to many wins as well. There probably isn't a statistic on the amount of plays that were effected by the Metrodome itself, but it has to be in the hundreds.
The Twins move outdoors this year to Target Field, located on the opposite end of the downtown area compared to where the Metrodome still stands. It lies near a garbage dump that omits an extreme odor. It has been announced that the smell will not be a factor at the new stadium, but you have to be oblivious to not notice the cloud of garbage smoke that has routinely hung right near the field during its construction. Maybe the smell will be the distraction the Twins need to keep their home win total near that of the Yankees and Red Sox.
Joe Mauer will likely take up over 20 percent of the Twins payroll; It has really been the Twins first move in my baseball memory that is comparable with what the major market teams do on a year to year basis. However, the Twins may have to spend between $95-$125 million every season to make up for the loss of their beneficial dome. It would be ironic if the Twins turn into a mediocre outdoor franchise like the Royals and Indians have been within the division for so many years.
A lack of payroll will catch up with you eventually, and it shows in the number of rings Twins players have added to their fingers over the past 19 years: zero. Lightning struck twice in the Metrodome, but as weird as it sounds, the occurrence might be less likely for the Twins while they play outside next to a trash-burning garbage dump.