Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, where sometimes the story of the day is too obvious to ignore. Let’s get to it:
*If you weren’t at Target Field for Thursday’s opener but instead watched on FSN, you might have had this thought: “Hey, is that … nah, it can’t be. But … it sure looks like Paul Molitor sitting in the front row behind home plate.”
Your eyes were not deceiving you. The former Twins manager, less than six months removed from being fired, was sitting in those very prime seats and wearing sunglasses. The camera from center field had him in plain sight for viewers to see on pretty much every pitch.
It was … odd? But maybe OK?
Taylor Rogers, who recorded four outs to close the game for the Twins, said after the game that seeing Molitor in the seats took him by surprise but that it “shows the kind of man he is” that he still feels connected to the team.
I can’t imagine Molitor will be there for every game, but as of now the Twins are 1-0 and maybe it’s good luck to have him there? Those seats are about the only way to be closer to the game than if you were sitting in the dugout.
*And yes, those were members of the Golden State Warriors at Target Field for Opening Day. They face the Wolves on Friday at Target Center and were already here. I saw head coach Steve Kerr just outside the ballpark, while cameras found several players — including Steph Curry — in the seats.
*If you were at Target Field, chances are you dealt with pretty long lines to get in — and also some major congestion in the concourses. The long lines were a problem throughout MLB, but it certainly irked many fans at Target Field. One fan told me on Twitter: “It was a disaster. We were stuck on the plaza for almost an hour and then in the concourse for another 45 minutes to reach our seats.”
Here’s an image from another fan on Twitter:
*The long lines were about the only thing folks had to complain about, though — and that includes the rendition of the national anthem by local music legend and fellow Taco Tuesday enthusiast Har Mar Superstar.
Despite confessing to being nervous, he pretty much killed it out there — and the flyover at the end was the icing on the cake. Here’s some video:
*Oh, right, the baseball game.
Jose Berrios was masterful — dominant enough for Patrick Reusse to invoke the name of Johan Santana. He needed to be that good because Corey Kluber was mowing down the Twins — until the 7th inning, when three of the four newcomers in the lineup sparked a two-run burst. And it all happened in a tidy 2 hours, 18 minutes. Who says baseball has a pace of play problem?
There is a tendency to overreact to the events of Opening Day. A sport with 10 times as many regular-season games as the NFL needs to pace itself. But I will say this: The Twins looked legit on Thursday. The lineup will produce plenty of runs when not facing a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Berrios looks ready to be a true No. 1. If the rest of the guys who follow him in the rotation and out of the bullpen are at least adequate, this is a team that can contend.