Mallparks and ghost parks

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I was almost ready to put one tentative foot on board The Common Man’s Mallparks-aren’t-so-bad-when-you-get-right-down-to-it bandwagon, but then I went and read David Fleming’s remembrance and revisiting of old Tiger Stadium which apparently coincided with a minor dust storm here in my den if my current eye irritation is any judge.

I’ll go this far: yes, it is way easier to take young kids to the mallparks.  But easy ain’t everything. When I was a kid, the cigar-and-beer smells of Tiger Stadium made me acutely aware that I was in a grownup place. And I loved nothing more than being in what I thought were grownup places in those days.

But no matter which side you fall on — assuming you have to take a side; we do too much of that I think — both TCM’s and Fleming’s stories are good reads.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.