After making the playoffs for the fifth time in eight seasons, and with a new ballpark in the waiting, the Minnesota Twins entered the off-season primed to make some moves. It took less than two days for the front office to get started, and the big moves over the past four-plus months have many fans optimistic about the team’s chances.
Pitchers and catchers have finally kick-started spring training with their arrival in the Minnesota Twins’ spring home of Fort Myers, Florida. Joe Mauer is present and already answering questions about his contract status, and newcomers J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson are in town a week early.
Jody Kelsey: We start off our process with pre-development, which includes layout and the collecting of reference material. This took about one month. Once we’re ready with our references, the overall digital construction of the stadium is about two-three months in the making. The digital construction encompasses modeling, texturing and lighting.
JK: We have contacts with all the MLB teams, and our contact with the Minnesota Twins helped to provide us with the blueprints, as well as other instrumental reference photos during the stadium construction. We provided samples of specific details we’re looking for, one example being the type of tree species they will be planting within the batters eye, which they provided to us. We need to know all the details, big and small.
JK: After obtaining all the needed reference material, we go into the initial layout stage. Our main focus deals with important items such as wall dimensions, wall heights and field layout. We then go into construction and model detail. Accuracy is always on our mind, so during this process we continue to check for updated reference material to assure the model is as accurate as the real stadium. Texturing and lighting is the final stage in the development of the stadium. During this whole process, we do travel to the stadium sight if possible, obtaining photo and lighting reference allowing us to recreate the most realistic stadium experience for anyone playing in Target Field in MLB 10 The Show.
JK: Unfortunately, we did not actually make it to Target Field this year. We relied on the Twins to get us all the data and they were incredibly helpful.
JK: I would have to say the detail that the stadium encompasses. Things like the unique lines of the Metropolitan Club to the metal detail running through the entrance plaza in left field. The stadium is packed with character even down to the dark green window color.
JK: Lots of internet research occurred to find building placement, building heights, etc. We also used existing city photos we have from previous visits for texture map accuracy. This combination allowed for an exact digital replica of the downtown Minneapolis.
odome is no longer in use, will it remain in the game?
JK: Yes. We’ve added the Metrodome to our Classic Stadium collection joining Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium.
JK: Night time player lighting has a richer, more realistic feel to it, now that we are accounting for the self shadowing effects cast by the stadium bank lights. Day games will immediately look different, and you will feel the difference between 1pm and 3pm, both in the light energy, and the stadium cast shadows. Clouds now cast faint shadows on the world, which brings yet another realistic soft touch to the feeling of the visuals. Reflection and energy maps convey current time conditions, and are localized, so you can watch the reflection change in a baserunner’s helmet as he rounds the bases. Additionally, players populate dugouts and bullpens in real time and we’ve added stadium specific touches with scoreboards, jumbotrons, real-time clocks, splashcams, etc. We’ve also included crowd animation updates like stadium-specific behaviors such as animated objects, fireworks, splash counts, TB cowbell, and improved play-off atmosphere with additions such as noisemakers and rally towels.
JK: Well, it’s impossible to ignore that Joe is one of the best players in baseball today and that is one of the reasons he’s a great fit for MLB 10 The Show. But, it’s also the entire body of work that he has put together in just a short time. His accomplishments at the age of 26 are almost unrivaled in the history of baseball. Joe is also just moving into the mainstream with people now understanding and appreciating the skill that he brings to game. On top of that, his range on the field links very well to what our game, The Show, really encapsulates, which is the deepest experience we can bring to your living room short of you actually putting on the equipment and getting on the field.
Target Field may still be two months away in reality, but in less than one month, fans will have the opportunity to throw the first pitch well before April 12th comes. In the video below, Target Field is becoming a reality in the virtual world of MLB 10: The Show, which features Minnesota’s own Joe Mauer on the cover.
Mauer says home run derby was tiring “because Morneau kept me out late the night before.”
The line for Joe Mauer’s autograph started outside the Metrodome at 8 a.m. Friday. He was eight hours from signing, and the temperature was minus-4.
The Minnesota Twins have made some improvements to the roster this off-season, but they have nonetheless been relatively quiet. Outside of acquiring shortstop J.J. Hardy, retaining starting pitcher Carl Pavano, bringing in reliever Clay Condry, and avoiding arbitration with eight eligible players, the Twins have kept to themselves.
Joe Posnanski is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He’s written three books, wrote for The Kansas City Star from 1996 to 2009, has twice been voted as the Sports Columnist of the Year by the Associated Press, and has been nominated for a grand total of 21 sports writing awards.
Voice From Twins Territory: Growing up, what was your favorite baseball team, and who were some of your favorite players?
Joe Posnanski: Well, I was a hardcore Cleveland Indians fans in the 1970s and my favorite player, without question, was Duane Kuiper, a gutsy second baseman who could not run fast or hit with power or hit much at all. But I loved him just the same. Loved pretty much all those Indians – Buddy Bell, Andre Thornton, Rico Carty (who would keep his wallet in his baseball pants and would not slide), Len Barker, Frank Duffy, Rick Manning, … well, just say all those Indians players.
JP: My childhood dream was to play second base for the Cleveland Indians. And if that did not work out, I was willing to be an overachieving wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. And if that didn’t work out, I had an image of myself sprouting up so I could be a point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite all my backup plans, none of those things quite worked out. I did not think about becoming a sportswriter until college … my decision was basically influenced by flunking out of accounting.
JP: Well, the great thing about my job at Sports Illustrated is that I get to cover everything. Baseball is my calling card, I think, and I love it. I also love that when baseball season ends I’m writing football and when football season ends I’m writing basketball and golf … I love the variety of my job.
JP: Well, sabermetrics, as I understand it, is the analysis of baseball through objective measures – so my general thoughts: I love that. I don’t agree with everything I see, and I don’t understand everything I see, but I like the idea of trying to find truth in baseball rather than just throwing out an opinion without some effort behind it.
JP: I don’t think you EVER cross the line in an effort to find truth in baseball or any sport. I think people can use statistics in a misleading way to prove a pre-determined point, and so I suppose that’s crossing the line. But that’s not really sabermetrics. And I don’t buy for one minute that the enjoyment of the game is in any way hindered by numbers. I get a huge thrill out of Albert Pujols’ wide stance, Carlos Beltran chasing down a fly ball, Tim Lincecum painting the outside corner with a 98-mph fastball, Evan Longoria making a diving play to his left, and a guy hustling up the line to beat out a double play. I love the big and small details of baseball. But that doesn’t prevent me from wanting to challenge what I see and know more than my observations can tell me.
JP: He was clearly the best player in the American League. I just thought it was so obvious that I had to write about it again and again – imagine, a catcher leading the league in batting, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. It had never happened before, and it’s one of the great accomplishments in baseball history. I hoped it would be rewarded, and I’m glad that it was rewarded.
JP: No, I don’t think so. I’m a big Joe Mauer fan. I love watching him play. I think he was underrated in 2006 and 2008 – I voted him MVP in 2008 and would have in 2006. But I think 2009 was a year apart even from those two seasons.
JP: Well, I see a way, of course. If he pushed it, he could probably get $30 or $35 million a year. But I HOPE he stays a Twin because he means so much to the town and the Midwest in general. At the end of the day, I hope I would never tell anyone how to live their life. I would love to see Minnesota pay Mauer fair market value and I would love to see him stay there for his whole career. But that’s up to Mauer and the Twins.
f Fame vote and it’s been said that you are ‘obsessed’ with the process of filling out your ballot, is this true?
JP: I would say that’s probably true – but I don’t think it makes me different from many Hall of Fame voters. Most of the voters I know take the process very seriously.
JP: I thought he had the best curveball I had ever seen. It was a Bugs Bunny curveball that would start at your eyes and end up at your toes. I know that generally he was not viewed as a big star, but I thought he was just awesome when he pitched for some lousy Cleveland teams in the 1980s.
JP: Well, as strongly as I can feel, I guess. I vote for him. I push for him. I probably won’t handcuff myself to Cooperstown doors … I leave that for Rich Lederer, who feels even more strongly than I do.
JP: Well, there are countless arguments both ways. I guess at the end of the day, my feeling is that a pitcher who is fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth all-time in shutouts and 27th all-time in victories belongs in the Hall of Fame.
JP: Well, there are arguments against Blyleven. He didn’t win 300 games, which is probably a silly line to draw but it is a pretty clear-cut line – if Blyleven had won 13 more games he would have gone to the Hall in one of his first three ballots, I bet. He only won 20 games once – another silly line in my mind but it’s there. His winning percentage is low for a great pitcher, and fairly or unfairly he really did not have a reputation as a great pitcher. It just takes a while for all that to flush through the system, I think.
JP: There are no guarantees in life, but I’d say he’s 99% sure.
JP: My mother always says that with all my awards and 4 bucks I can get a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It is really nice that people have thought enough of me to give me some awards and I’m very appreciative. But I also know that’s not what this is all about.
JP: Well, I don’t quite get out there on a daily basis, but I love the whole thing – love watching batting practice, love watching infield (when they do it), love everything about the daily process of baseball.
JP: I’ve been to so many great things. The Jeter home run shortly after 9/11 was incredible. But I’ve really seen a lot of great stuff.
JP: I have seen the stadium, and it looks absolutely beautiful. I know people talk about the weather a lot, but I know that June and July and August in Minnesota are about as beautiful as anyplace in America, and it always made me sad to go inside and play ball on those days.
JP: Probably not. I was lectured by my friend Jeff Shelman on that very subject when I brought it up. Early April could be brutal, late October could be brutal, but generally it is not much different from my own Cleveland hometown.
JP: Well, it’s weird … I always liked the Metrodome in an odd way. It was a great place to cover a baseball game – ev
erything was easy there. It may not have been a great place to watch baseball, but for a writer who just wants access to and good sight lines and all that, it was pretty great. And I liked the possibility that a player would lose the ball in the roof.
My greatest memory there, without question, was Buck O’Neil Day. I was traveling with Buck then to write my book “The Soul of Baseball” and they had Buck O’Neil Day – gave out baseball cards with him on it, brought in celebrities like Tony Oliva – and it was just beautiful. Minneapolis is one of my favorite places in the world, and that’s a big reason why.
Things are moving slowly in Twins Territory as the date nears mid-January. The Minnesota Twins have uncertainty remaining at both second and third base, and options are falling off the table with each passing day.
Justin Morneau received $25,000 for his All-Star selection.
Joe Nathan received $25,000 for his All-Star selection.
Joe Mauer received $25,000 for his All-Star selection, $25,000 for his Gold Glove award, and $100,000 for his Most Valuable Player award.
“Once I decided to get into pro coaching I sent out e-mails to the Twins, Angels and Orioles. The Orioles’ David Stockstill called me back within three hours and it didn’t take me too long to join the organization.”
Hat tip: Cot’s Contracts