On Tuesday night, one of the legs of the Minnesota Twins caravan made a stop in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The location for this event was "The Venue" at "The Hub." Doors opened at 5:00 pm but the event didn't start until 6:30 pm. The hour and a half "pre-game" was for fans to enjoy a ballpark meal of hot dogs, chips, and soda.
Current Twins players Scott Diamond and Glen Perkins along with Twins great Tony Oliva were there to take part in the festivities. Cory Provus was there to give his voice to the evenings events. Also on hand was Dave St. Peter, the North Dakota native, on one of his few stops on this year's caravan.
Many fans braved the below zero wind chill to get a small taste of baseball on the prairie.
When the event started, they showed a promotional video to drum up support for the coming season. It started by explaining the team's need for pitching this offseason. Then it introduced fans to the players acquired in the Denard Span and Ben Revere trades. Alex Meyer and Trevor May probably won't be in the big leagues this year but it tried to paint a bright picture for the future.
It went through the positional battles in center field and in the middle infield positions. It showed Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks, and Joe Benson as the likely center field options. For the middle infield, it talked about Pedro Florimon, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, and Jamey Carroll. All of these players should have a chance to start on Opening Day.
The video also introduced fans to the plethora of new starting pitchers for the team. It also talked about Rich Harden more than I thought it should since he is a giant question mark. For other fans, I guess he would be one of the few names that people have heard of so it makes sense.
There were interviews with Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire to explain some of the positional battles. They gave the positives for each player and the reasons for trading away some of the team's proven talent. One of the most important messages of the video was the fact that the team is not punting 2013. They feel the right moves are being made to be competitive next year and into the future.
Following the video, the fans were able to ask a variety of questions to the panel on the stage. Dave St. Peter thanked the players for being willing to go on these caravan trips over the years because it wouldn't happen without them. This brought out some good stories from Oliva. He spoke about the first time he came to North Dakota back in the early 1960's. The weather was cold and he only spoke a couple words of English.
Tony-O took over the microphone for awhile. He said that it was great for the players to interact with the fans because it showed the fans that they were real people and not just figures on TV. He also told the story of how he lost a tooth earlier that day while eating chicken wings. Oliva said the wings were really good and he jokingly blamed Glen Perkins for the incident.
One of the more surprising quotes of the evening came from Dave St. Peter. When asked about the center field opening, he said that the hope of the organization is for Aaron Hicks to win the job. The team needs a lead-off hitter and Hicks should have the skills for that spot. He did say they were worried about his ability to hit consistently at the big league level but he knows how to draw a walk.
There were a variety of other questions. Perkins hates to face Miguel Cabrera and Diamond said Jose Bautista is scary. Some of their favorite parks to visit are Safeco Field and Fenway Park. Diamond also explained the story of him having to throw near Josh Hamilton's head last year. He said that he was being a "rascal" and that the pitch got away from him a little.
It was a fun night to get fans ready for the up-coming baseball season. There were door prizes and autographs at the end but it was more about getting geared up for the coming season.
On a side note, something interesting occurred during the promotional video. The video talked about the up-coming All-Star Game at Target Field. The team hasn't designed the official logo for the event but they happened to have one available for the video.
The one they used in the video was a "fake" design I had posted to this blog over a year ago. Here is a link back to the post from last January and below you will see a copy of the logo. I guess I better get on the phone and ask for my fee for designing the logo. Granted I did take their Inaugural Target Field logo and make some slight changes but still...