Disco Fever

When the Diamondbacks schedule came out for the 2000 season, this was the game I was most afraid of. It was not because Ken Griffey Junior makes his Cincinnati Reds debut at Bank One Ballpark. It was not because the Reds dominated the Diamondbacks last year. No, tonight was scary because it is Disco night at the ballpark. Having grown up during that time, I know exactly what the music and clothing was like. It has taken lots of years and lots of money to try and get over the experience and yet the Diamondbacks continue to make me relive the experience each season. As I stood in line to get into the ballpark, I am surrounded by polyester clad fans who are here for the festivities rather than the ballgame. Disco music is blaring through the loudspeakers and there is a mirrored ball hanging above the pool area in right center field. Large afros, bell-bottomed pants, and poofy hair are everywhere in the stadium. As I was heading to my seat, a four foot midget with 12 inch platform shoes stepped on my foot. No good can come from a promotion like this. It is just creepy to know that there are this many people who these articles of clothing still in their closet. I for one refused to dress in these period costumes. Tiffany, my 10 year old thinks this is great. In fact, there was a big fight at the house as Mallorie and Tiffany each fought over who got to come to tonight’s game. I’m freaking out man, I’m really freaking out. The only thing missing from tonight is the sound effects from the Six Million Dollar Man when Alex Cabrera swings his bat. Now that would have been classic.


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M*A*S*H

It is amazing how the Arizona Diamondbacks have come to resemble a M*A*S*H unit. Each day it seems there is another player or coach that becomes hurt or unable to play. It began with Matt Williams going on the disabled list with a sore quadriceps muscle. That was followed by first base coach Dwayne Murphy having his knee operated on. This was followed by Todd Stottlemyre re-injuring his right elbow. Pitching coach Mark Conner went next being treated for a kidney stone. This was followed by Erubiel Durazo going on the disabled list for his ailing wrist. As if the players and coaches weren’t enough, I go to the game and watch as some fan catches a foul ball off the bat of Jay Bell right in the face and have to be carted out on a stretcher. I have come to the conclusion that maybe we should change the Diamondbacks uniforms to Army fatigues. But there is always a bright side to trials such as this. As television has shown, there is humor even in war. I began to think that maybe the Diamondbacks are in ways similar to the old 1970’s sit-com. We have Buck who is much like Colonel Potter. A kindly commander who has a few quirks of his own. Rather than painting and riding horses, Buck carries a clipboard and rides players. We have a little guy just like Radar who anticipates what his commander needs. Buck’s right hand man is Carlos Tosca the bench coach. He is the one that keeps things going. Hawkeye and BJ would be played by Matt Williams and Jay Bell. They are the old guard who are responsible for maintaining sanity in the camp. Brian Anderson would be Klinger just because he is the only one crazy enough to wear a dress onto the field. Of course we would need to set our cast of characters in an authentic setting so we would include Kim to show everyone that our show is set in Korea. Yeah, this just may work.


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For one reason or another, I have been classified as a baseball fanatic. I am unclear what the reason is for this distinction but I have decided that if I am to be one, I should at least try to be the best possible fanatic I can. The first order of business is to try and define what exactly a fanatic is. I have interviewed several people at the ballpark in order to determine what the correct definition would be. What I have found is that there is little common ground between what constitutes a fanatic. What is most interesting is that each of the people I interviewed viewed me as a fanatic while they themselves were not. The mentally deficient dude with the megaphone and Diamondbacks shoelaces was not a fanatic. The husband and wife with matching Randy Johnson jerseys and a Diamondbacks helmet that held two beer cans with straws were not fanatics. The overweight guy with the garbage bag of “K” signs that he runs to the top of the section for each Randy Johnson strike out was not a fanatic. The two girls wearing the “Ice Girls” T-shirts with the sign proclaiming Matt Mantei a Hottie were not fanatics. I took the next several innings to determine what behavior was necessary to be classified as a fanatic. By the end of the game, I had determined that a baseball fanatic was someone who could tell the umpire had missed a called ball or strike from the upper deck outfield stands and yet could not find his car in the parking lot.


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Lima Time Out

Of all the opposing players that come to Bank One Ballpark, the one my children most look forward to is Jose Lima. Granted, seeing Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa smashing the cover off the ball with monster home runs is interesting but it is Jose Lima with his knickers, black socks, and backwards hat that bring the biggest sparkle to their eyes. His personality and antics before the game are contagious. Given this man is a major star in his own right, it is refreshing to see him take time with the fans and bringing joy to children and adults alike. My kids first met Lima last season when he was nearly unhittable. He came out for batting practice and began to play to the crowd. At one point he took Tiffany’s hat and put it on his head and began dancing around the outfield. This brought laughs and smiles to all the kids except for Mallorie. Mallorie was a little put out because she suddenly realized that Tiffany had been wearing her hat without her permission. Lima saw Mallorie’s face and really played it up breaking down whatever barriers there were between these siblings. He finished by stopping and signing autographs for nearly 100 fans never once complaining. He genuinely friendly and cordial to everyone, especially the children. Major League players could learn a lot about giving back to the fans from a player like Jose Lima. As the schedule was released at the first of the year, this four game series brought one of the bigger arguments at our house as everyone wanted to attend these games. Mallorie won out for today’s game. She did learn from last year though and left her hat at home. She didn’t need any more dancing hats in the outfield.


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For the past couple of months I have been hearing rumors of the hitting prowess of a minor league player within the Diamondbacks AA affiliate El Paso Diablos. He is a seven year veteran of the minor leagues and was tearing up the Texas League hitting .382 while slugging 35 home runs in 53 games. With the injury to Todd Stottlemyre, the Diamondbacks have a roster spot open and decided to take a look at the young first baseman. I heard Cabrera was at Bank One Ballpark and decided to go down early to see if I could get a glimpse of his hitting ability during batting practice. Unfortunately, Cabrera took his swings before the public was allowed into the stadium. I did see him out in right field shagging fly balls. He is a huge guy with a physique similar to Mark McGwire. I did not anticipate seeing Alex in game action but in the bottom of the eighth inning, he came to the plate as a pinch hitter for Travis Lee. After fouling a ball back that nearly hit the roof, Cabrera let one fly hitting a home run in his first Major League at bat. The ball went 400 feet to left centerfield. Perhaps it wasn’t just double A pitching making this guy look good.


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Sunday was Dakota’s turn to go to the ball game with me. He and I go to nearly every Sunday game together. For one, it gives me a chance to spend some time with him and more importantly, it gives Trina a break from dealing with Tropical Storm Dakota. As the father of four daughters, I had always heard how little boys were different than girls. I had always nodded my head at these comments while in the back of my mind discounting the source as being somewhat out of touch. After all, kids are kids right? Well, Dakota has provided proof that there is indeed a major difference between raising girls and boys. If we had had Dakota as the first child rather than the last, we would have stopped at one. He has more energy and gets into more mischief than any other three kids. Today was again a Bullpen Buddy day and Dakota definitely wanted to go down onto the field. We stood in line so that he could get a wrist band to get onto the field. As the Diamondbacks came out to warm up, the children were led onto the field. Because Brian Anderson was working out in the bullpen, the kids were lined up along the third base line to wait for autographs. That was just fine with Dakota. He was fascinated with the dirt base paths and took every opportunity to kick the dirt or pick up handfuls and put it in his pocket for later. As Damian Miller and Danny Klassen made their way down to line to sign autographs, Dakota was busy playing with the dirt. I had hoped the little dudester would go to sleep during the game but much to the dismay of me and the people sitting around me, he stayed awake for the whole game. He was great though cheering the Diamondbacks on to victory.


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For the past three years, the Diamondbacks have played a home game on June 24 and I have been here each year with my daughter Tiffany. It has become a tradition for us to spend this day at the ballpark together. It is Tiffany’s birthday and she is ten years old. Today is an extra special day for her since the Diamondbacks also held the third annual autograph party at Bank One Ballpark. Here several of the players and coaches came together to raise money for ALS by signing autographs for the fans for a donation. I brought Ashley to the party last year but since the autograph party was being held on Tiffany’s birthday this year she was able to attend. She was very excited as she was able to meet several of her favorite players. The players were all very gracious and brought a sparkle to her eyes as she spoke to each of them. She met with Jay Bell and Greg Swindell, Brian Anderson and Danny Bautista, Greg Colbrunn and Damian Miller, Armando Reynoso and Todd Stottlemyre, Tony Womack and Hanley Frias, Erubiel Durazo and Mike Morgan, Matt Williams and Buck Showalter. By the end of the party she had collected nearly half the team on her baseball. The excitement continued at the game when during warm-ups, Byung-Hyun Kim brought her a ball. Of course her friend Matt Mantei was there to wish her a happy birthday and play a few jokes on her as well. Although the Diamondbacks happened to lose the game, she still enjoyed herself and I got to spend a great day with my daughter. It doesn’t get much better than that.


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