Saturday, February 7, 2015

Al Michaels' Metrodome paranoia

It's always good to have a reason to run a photo of the
1987 Twins celebrating.
Al Michaels was at the Metrodome for all four World Series games in 1987; he was doing the play by play for ABC, the network telecasting the games in that bygone era.

He believes the Twins pumped in artificial crowd noise.

I was at those games too, as a paying customer. I'm quite certain the noise was genuine.

Now, I've been at a couple of Vikings games -- I go about once every 12 years or so just to remind myself how horrid NFL games are to attend -- at which I was certain the crowd noise was fake. Why? Because there was a certain level of sound and then an instantaneous burst of noise, with no buildup -- and because when I looked around my section, there was almost nobody yelling.

That was emphatically not the case in the 1987 Series. When I looked around while in full-throated roar, everybody else was doing the same thing. There were a lot of hoarse Series attendees exiting the Dome after those games.

And the Twins made it easy for us to yell and keep on yelling. In several of the big innings there were strings of first-pitch hits. The crowd gets excited about a hit, and the next guy immediately smacks a line drive, and things just keep escalating.

Look, I'm under no illusions about the 1987 Twins. They weren't the best team in baseball that year. Over the course of the full season, St. Louis was better, and Detroit was better, and Toronto was better, and several other teams were better. But the Twins got into the tournament and were the team that won eight games, so they are the champs.

I understand the impulse to suspect gamesmanship for a weaker team winning the title, whether it's the air-intake vents blowing in the opposite direction or recorded crowd noise. There's an easier, less conspiratorial reason: It's baseball. The weaker team can win a short series. That doesn't require skulduggery. And I don't believe the 1987 Twins used any.


  1. You are correct imo

  2. I will comment on your most recent posts. I too was at all 4 of the 1987 World Series games played at the Metrodome. I doubt if there was extra noise pumped in. It was a hugely partisan crowd, I think the crowd made the noise.

    Concerning Vargas, his approach at the plate during his call up was pretty good. I think he needs to work the count a little more, but as you suggested, his minor league record indicates he can.

    I think the reason Shields hasn't gotten the kind of contract he was apparently looking for is related to his most recent performances. He wasn't as good in 2014 as he had been previously, and he actually struggled in the playoffs. He could have been considered the goat for KC if the team hadn't played so well around him. It could be a blip on his career, one poorest year after many very good ones, or it could be considered an indication of what is to come. Personally, I would rather have Santana, considering he is likely still going to be cheaper, and I am afraid Shields might be on a steeper decline.

    I have never been that huge a fan of Hunter. He sort of underperformed his reputation while with the Twins. I do think he has been better since he left the Twins than I expected, he really seems to understand his limitations and has performed very well within those as his skills have declined. I might also agree that his defensive shortcomings are probably overstated by defensive metrics. I do wonder however, if his leadership abilities and mentoring abilities aren't seriously overstated by the media, who seem to really love Hunter. Still, I think he is a stopgap. If some of the young outfielders come on like they could, Hunter may not play all that many games in the outfield for the Twins. If Vargas is for real, Hunter may not get much playing time at all, the second half of the season.

    Finally, I have read some of the same comments you have about Santana by several people who have watched him in the minors. I wish they were a bit more specific about his shortcomings. Watching him on TV in his occasional appearances at shortstop last year, he looked to be a much superior shortstop to Escobar in every way except perhaps consistency. He appears to have more range, a better arm or at least a quicker release to his arm, and good shortstop instincts. I have heard that he doesn't have real soft hands, but he certainly have quick hands. I think he could be about as good defensively as Florimon. I certainly hope he gets a good shot at becoming the full time shortstop because I don't think he is a great fit in a future Twins outfield, and if his offense is for real, he certainly could be an answer at shortstop.