|The Odd Couple: Kelly and Knoblauch face down rowdies|
I was there at the H.H.H. Metrodome to see the whole, mustard-slathered spectacle.
Wednesday night, May 2, 2001, was the defining evening for prodigal son Chuck Knoblauch, when he found out he was no longer the fair-haired boy of Twins glories past. In contrast, the original Biblical son received nothing like the rude, verbal ass-kicking and shennanigans that Knobby received in that series-ending game at the Metrodome. It was the venue's most surreal, darkest ballgame ever. It's the only time my team won when I wanted to wear a bag over my head in embarassment.
|Bowman 1991 Rookie|
|All the Twins could get|
for Scott Erickson was...
Once Puckett irretrievably lost his eyesight, Kelly was left with mediocrities like Rich Becker, Scott Stahoviak, Pat Meares, and Frankie Rodriguez to pencil into the lineup after Knoblauch at leadoff. His wife at the time found him uncommunicative after frustrating ballgames, despite his personal successes. He signed a contract in late-season 1996, but the losses still mounted - and by the end ‘97, he’d had enough, and made known he wanted out. He got his wish, forcing the Twins hand. Enter Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, and Danny Mota in February, whom the Twins wrangled away from the Yankees for his services.
Commence the white-hot hatred of Twins fans spurned. As history would demonstrate later, vengeful Minnesota fans make Glenn Close (“Fatal Instinct”) look like the school librarian by comparison.
|Fan to Knoblauch: |
"You will NOT ignore me !"
The Game - Wednesday, May 2, 2001
A number of factors contributed to this evening's weirdness:
|No, drunk guys. It does NOT say|
"start the throwin'"
- It was dollar dog night with little to no limit on how many hot dogs you could buy (or throw as handy projectiles on this night)
The Twins were just returning to respectability in ‘01, and thus general admission left field seats went for a paltry $10. That screamed one thing: “Come one, come all ye drunken frat boys!” (It’s a fact: cheap prices appeal to the rude, boorish set, as well as thrifty families)
- Knoblauch’s 2nd base days were over. He’d been replaced there by a young Alphonso Soriano. That meant he had the privilege of playing with his back to those same lower left field seats. Bullseye!
- A popular FM morning radio station show in the Twin Cities was stirring the pot against Knoblauch constantly, especially fixating on the incident when he pushed a kid in Seattle
At 9:11 p.m., Doug Mientkiewicz singled in Matt Lawton and David Ortiz to put the Twins up by 3 runs off Mike Stanton and the Yanks in that 6th. This created an excuse for an erruption of bottles and dogs and objects to be tossed to the turf, at Knoblauch - and it became so intense that 3B Umpire Angel Hernandez felt he had no other choice except to signal Manager Joe Torre to order his Yankees from the field. Tom Kelly, in an ironic twist, emerged from the Twins dugout to be Knoblauch's savior, in an attempt to calm the knuckleheads.
|Everybody's welcome..unless your name is "Chuck"|
|Chuck in The Big Apple: A classic case of |
"Be careful what you wish for."
It can be posited that getting players like Guzman and Eric Milton, by bettering the product on the field, helped keep the franchise of the Twins in Minnesota, and staving off contraction in 2001. Just another reason that residual bitterness towards Chuck Knoblauch is misguided and stupid.
As our announcing friend Herb Carneal put it:
So long, everybody!" - TT
Here's a You Tube video from '97 that foreshadows Knoblauch's eventual departure from Minnesota.