MINNEAPOLIS — The competition among cities for baseball’s All-Star game has grown stiffer over the years, leading to some tough calls for Commissioner Bud Selig.
Awarding the 2014 game to the Minnesota Twins and Target Field, it turns out, was one of the easier decisions Selig has made.
Selig has long been close with the Pohlad family, which has owned the Twins for decades, especially the late Carl Pohlad.
The commissioner stood by his side while he fought for a new ballpark in the late 1990s, a bitter dispute that threatened the franchise’s future in the Twin Cities.
Once the Twins finally won approval to build Target Field, it was only a matter of time before Selig was going to bring the mid-summer classic back to Minnesota. It will be the third time the Twins have hosted the game, following 1965 at Metropolitan Stadium and 1985 at the Metrodome.
“Target Field is just spectacular,” Selig said. “Every time I’m here, I just can’t tell you how impressive this is. So this will be a great showplace for the 2014 All-Star game.”
The play on the field has been anything but spectacular over the last two seasons. The Twins entered the game against Seattle on Wednesday night with an AL-worst record of 52-77, one year after losing 99 games. The lack of success following a period of six division titles in nine seasons has caused attendance to at the shiny, three-year-old ballpark to drop and a traditionally loyal fan base to start grumbling.
“They’ve been as passionate and as loyal as any fans in baseball,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. “For what they’ve put up with on the field the last two years, they deserve an All-Star game and a lot more.”
Selig said he hoped the news of the game coming to Minnesota will be a brief respite for fans who have endured the last two seasons, and said he had no doubt the franchise would bounce back.
“As commissioner I get a chance to have a view of all 30 clubs, sometimes on a daily basis,” he said. “This is one of those clubs that you never worry about. They always do the right thing in the right way.”
Owner Jim Pohlad has been putting pressure on the front office and coaching staff to get things turned around while at the same time taking the prudent, patient approach that has been the family’s hallmark while owning the team. Manager Ron Gardenhire, for now, does not appear to be in trouble and GM Terry Ryan is expected to remove interim tag from his job title sometime in the next few months.
With a core of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham at or near their prime, the urgency is there to return to the top of the AL Central. They’ll need to vastly upgrade their starting rotation to make that happen.
“I suppose we could hope to go for a double in 2014 and have not only the All-Star game but the World Series,” Jim Pohlad said. “Actually it would be great if we could just be awarded the World Series, but we’ll do our best to win it.”