Will there be a better week for outdoor baseball in Minnesota than the last week before it begins? The concern regarding facing the elements in a Minnesota April remains valid. For me, this week's weather says the risk is worth it. Sure, it was 10 degrees in April a few years ago, but this time it's 70 in March.
Time is ticking for me to name the rest of my all Metrodome team. The outfield was tough. A "Soul Patrol" of Jones, Hunter, and Stewart or Lawton was tempting. Likewise, I hate to omit Rich Becker and Alex Cole. I insist on having one from each position. With all due respect to Torii, I have to pick Puckett in center. Marty Cordova represents the mid 1990's in left. His 24 HR rookie of the year campaign gave Twins fans hope for the last half of the decade. Of course, his production faded almost as fast as the Twins. Finally, much like Pat Meares, Michael Cuddyer has quietly defined an era of Twins baseball in right field.
The choice for the pitcher is obvious. Officially, I'm not even naming an All Metrodome team. I'm just naming an All Metrodome player. He pitched to Matt Walbeck, Greg Myers, Terry Steinbach, AJ Pierzynksi, and countless others. He took turns starting with Kevin Tapani, Scott Erickson, Rick Aguilera, LaTroy Hawkins, Frankie Rodriguez, Sean Bergmann, Bob Tewksbury, Joe Mays, Mark Redman, Kyle Lohse, Rick Reed, Matt Kinney, Kenny Rogers, Francisco Liriano, Carlos Silva, and even Scott Baker. Eric Milton tossed a no-hitter and Johan Santanna won a Cy Young award during his time in the rotation. He turned the ball over to the likes of Pat Mahomes, Mike Trombley, Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Bob Wells, Hector Carrasco, Tony Fiore, Joe Nathan, and Matt Guerrier. Nearly any player considered for the All Metrodome Team shared the clubhouse with him.
Brad Radke's career touched almost all of the Metrodome era of Twins baseball. He played with Puckett and pitched to Joe Mauer. No matter how hopeless the mid and late 90's were, I always knew we were never more than 4 games away from Brad Radke. That didn't just mean a chance of winning. That meant winning. He won 20 games on a team that won 68. Sure he gave up run early- occasionally in the first inning- but when you really needed him, he would throw a masterpiece. Was anything quite like watching him carve the strike zone armed with nothing but an 88 mph fastball, a change-up, and willpower?