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The End of an Era

Sports mirror life. This is an admittedly worn-out metaphor, and yet, it is wrapped in an undeniable truth. We watch sports because they give us the chance to hope, dream, laugh, cheer, and experience a complex gamut of emotions that almost seems impossible. We find little moments in sports that magnify our own existence, and mirror the ups and downs of our everyday lives.

Monday at the Metrodome marked the beginning of the end of an era. Oh, say what you will about the Metrodome, and I know we all have more than enough gripes, but the Twins undeniably spent their best years in that inflatable bubble.

This particular opening day was about more than a baseball stadium, however.

Opening day marks the beginning of summer. If you ask me, it is far and away the best day of the year. A day of looking forward, where everything lays ahead, and the cold, damp dreary days of winter give way to the sun splashed, endless days of summer. For Twins fans, this particular opening day resonated with the upcoming promise of outdoor baseball. One more summer in the dome before the final curtain falls, and the third act begins on the stage of Target Field.

Personally, I feel like the Metrodome has followed me through one long saga in my own life. And, as I sat around Sunday night, counting down the hours until first pitch the following day, I had an epiphany: I am ending an era right along with the Twins.

As a summer of baseball begins, the school year ends. For me, this may very well mean the end of my academic career. The end of an era. At age 22, the beginning of the baseball season illuminates the impending completion of my college career. Now, my 22 years may not be as impressive as the Metrodome's 27, but I like to think I avoided the 10 year slump the Metrodome experienced with the Twins of the mid to late nineties - the Ron Coomer years, if you will.

And, while one could argue that the beginning of the end of my academics started in January, at the beginning of the semester, this feeling of finality never really struck me until Twins home opener. This is the beginning of summer. This is the end of school. This is the end of an entire phase of my life. This is a mirror between the sports world and the real world.

This is a seemingly never ending time that produced an ever-ranging set of emotions:

• Punching the couch in disgust as a college senior during the playoff chase of 2008. Punching the couch in joy during the Denard Span and Alexi Casilla fueled sweep of the White Sox. Punching the couch, once again in disgust, following the disappointing one game playoff.

• Celebrating as a high school senior what, at the time, seemed to be a game winning home run off the bat of Torii Hunter against the Yankees in the ALDS, shattering my cell phone following the back breaking New York comeback, picking up the pieces and moving forward.

• Watching as high school sophomore, bright eyed and innocent, as the Twins made their first playoff run I could actually remember in 2002; just happy to be along for the ride.

• Playing sandlot baseball as a child in the early-to-mid nineties, when the Twins served no greater purpose than a dream future for a small child, entranced by the smile than one larger than life figure.

• Sleeping in a crib at six months old as the Twins won their first ever World Series.

There is one thing each of these moments has in common: The Metrodome. Whether or not a given event actually occurred there, it has always been considered "baseball home." The one constant to always come back to, and the one place Twins fans could truly consider theirs.

Oh it may not be the perfect place, far from it in fact. It is a shoddy, awkward, run down, and an all around unfit for baseball dump. But it has always been our shoddy, awkward, run down, and all around unfit for baseball dump. It has always been our baseball home.

Our little baseball haven.

Like the Metrodome to Twins baseball, in my personal world life was built, aside from my actual house, around one constant: School. All the way from kindergarten through college was a relatively steady stream, with a few slight rapids along the way.

Kindergarten through sixth grade: Get up early, go to school, go home, repeat.

7th through 12th grade: Get up early, go to school, go to afterschool sports, go home, repeat.

College: Get up as late as possible, barely make it to class on time, go back to dorm/apartment, drink beer, repeat.

Nothing seemed to change.

Now I get to sit back and watch as two of the staples in my life come to a close. I get to wonder what comes next. I get to think about the future. I get to experience new beginnings. I get to explore new things.

I get to move on.

As I watch the final season of the Metrodome unfold, and a professional baseball franchise move towards their rightful place on the natural grass, under the endless night sky, I look forward to my own next step. As the Twins close an era that seemed to never end, I close an era that a small part of me wishes would never end.

But, as one era closes, another inevitably begins.

Written By: Eric Johnson
Look for his column every Thursday and check out his blog at www.juiceandthekicker.blogspot.com

1 comment:

  1. I grew up with the Dome as well and will be sad to see it go. The Twins needed a new stadium but as someone who has played many April baseball games in Minnesota I know that they will have MANY brutally cold games. A retractable was something needed in our climate and they didn't get it. Going to be kicking themselves for 25 years.

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