The phone rang at the house and the kids all rushed to the caller ID to see who was calling since each of them was sure that the incoming call was for them. I am not sure how we ever lived without Caller ID since no one in our house ever thinks to just pick up the phone and say hello to see who is on the other line. In this case the display read, “Arizona Diamondbacks”.
“Dad, it’s for you!” I am not sure why they think that if the display says Arizona Diamondbacks it necessarily means that they are calling for me. Having your phone ring and the Caller ID saying it is a Major League Baseball team is probably the closest thing I will ever have to a Bat Phone. I always envision answering the call and having it be manager Bob Melvin or general manager Josh Byrnes on the other end saying they heard about my first pitch and were wondering if I would be available to sign a contract. That never seems to happen but it is always great to dream between the second and third rings. Coming out of my alternative reality, I picked up the phone.
“Hi, may I speak to Jeff Summers?”
“This is he.”
“Hi Jeff this is the Diamondbacks MVP Rewards department and we have identified that you are one of our most active members and we would like to invite you to an event.”
One of their most active members? I am not sure what to think about that. Does that mean that they see me scanning my card at every game or that I have started to rack up points buying concessions or is this about the 3 jerseys I bought because I had not gotten a new jersey this century? None of these sounds like a good thing. I thought maybe this was one of those profiling things and the next thing I know a mug shot would be shown on the evening news and my neighbor would be saying stuff like, “He seemed fairly normal from October through March but then he got really strange from April through September. He’d be gone 83 nights always at 4:30 returning around 10:30. He may be a serial killer or terrorist for all I know.”
“Wow, thanks!” I said.
“We would like to invite you to the Saturday game against the San Diego Padres as our way of saying thanks. Would you like to go to the game this weekend?”
“Uh, well yeah I had thought maybe I would go to the game.” I was trying to play it cool while all the time I was dancing around like the midget on the Gieco commercial singing, “It’s my birthday, fixed my bumper, it’s my birthday, got new taillights.”
“Great, you and a guest are invited to watch the game from the owner’s suite. I’ll have the tickets at will call for you to pick up and we’ll see you at the game.”
Well how sweet is this? I get to go to a baseball game. Oh wait, I was already going to the game. My wife and kids though thought this was outstanding since they would use me to get them in the door and they would hang out in the suite while I go back down to Section 108 and sit in our seats since I am going to want to keep score and sit on my own seat cushion. They did have a point, I do like my seat cushion and I am close to the action in our seats. And I am not sure whether they even allow scorebooks in the suites. I’ve never seen anyone in a suite keep score. For that matter I have never seen anyone in a suite actually watch a whole game. So I packed the bags like usual and made sure I had the tickets to our seats and we headed down to the ballpark. Since it is the last Saturday home game, I wanted to be there as the gates opened.
It is Fandemonium so the Diamondbacks are holding giveaways throughout the game. These included autographed memorabilia and I was really hoping to score a bat or jersey or something. Dakota had his ball with him that he started in April and now has about 15 of the players signatures on it. He is hoping that the Diamondbacks will sign autographs. We got Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Miguel Montero, Brandon Lyon, Chad Tracy, and Randy Choate yesterday so he’s really hoping some more of the players will sign today. It’s just fun hanging out with him and seeing his eyes light up as the players talk to him.
I had decided even before we got there that I would give the suite tickets to Trina and to Whitney. After all, they kind of keep the family together during the season. Dakota and I would sit in our seats. If possible, Whitney and Dakota could trade and Whitney would sit with me in Section 108 for the second half of the game. When we arrived at the ballpark we went right to will call to pick up tickets. While I was waiting at the window, I sent Trina to sales to get two more tickets for tomorrow’s season finale. I thought a couple of bleacher seats so Tiffany and Dakota would be close to us and maybe even get some action. Trina ended up with upper deck tickets as the game had completely sold out the lower level and only upper level above row 26 were available. That’s amazing as it will mean that there will be well over 40,000 people in attendance. Farewell to Gonzo is likely to result in a larger crowd than Opening Day. That is a tribute to what he meant to the fans and the city.
We got the tickets and made our way through the gates. In the rotunda there is a glass case where they have a World Series ring and the World Series trophy. Today, these artifacts had been removed and were on a table for display. Not only could you get up-close to them, you could actually stand next to the World Series trophy and wear a World Series ring. Are you kidding me? You can wear the ring? I must have looked like a child on Christmas morning when I heard that news. Trina sensing my excitement walked me over to the line then waited patiently as I inched closer to the front. When it got to be my turn I stood behind the table, put the ring on and smiled as the sun bounced off the trophy and ring. It was simply amazing and if nothing else happened, my day and month was complete. We stopped by the Team Shop and I dropped off a 2001 World Series jersey to be personalized with my name and number (9) on it. The Team Shop is doing personalization for half off until they run out of purple letters and numbers then it’s done. Fortunately for me they still had all the letters for my name. I was afraid it would end up like a bad Wheel of Fortune episode where I would be running around trying to buy a vowel before I went bankrupt but it all worked out.
After the team shop I found the elevator that went to the suite level and sent Trina and Whitney on their way. Dakota and I went down to Section 108 so I could fill out the scorebook and get ready for the game. My phone rang and it was Trina. She was in the owner’s suite and was waving. That was pretty cool to see your wife waving from the Diamond Infinity level sitting in the front row of seats in the owner’s box. She suggested I come up but I told her to just enjoy the game and I would talk to her afterwards as they were getting ready to announce the line-ups. I hung up the phone and a minute later it rang again. It was Trina this time insisting that I come up as there were people there who wanted to talk to me. See that phrase, “people wanting to talk to you” never goes well with me. That is the same phrase I heard in elementary school just before the teacher and the principal pulled me out of recess. Trina had gotten two additional tickets so we could all sit together in the suite. I have no idea how she does that. This is the same woman who chased down Rich Dozer on the concourse of Bank One Ballpark to recommend that I throw out a first pitch. She’s also the same woman who brought Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins to our seats in Maryvale because she told him I was a big Cubs fan growing up as a child watching him on MLB Game of the Week. She is totally amazing. Anyway, she got two more tickets so Dakota and I could be there with them in the suite. The whole way to the elevator all Dakota could talk about was how cool it would be to get free food. I swear, to listen to him talk you would think I never feed him.
We arrived at the suite and Trina introduced us around to her newly found friends. Jamie from the MVP Rewards program was there. We had spoken on the phone and it was great to meet her in person. She had a lot of questions about what I thought about the MVP Rewards program and oddly enough about my blog and web site. My blog and web site? It seems that during a Google search Diary of a Diehard came up and they read a few of my entries. There is nothing that will stop a guy’s heart quicker than to find out that someone is actually reading my entries and worse that my wife (who doesn’t even know what a blog is) is suddenly finding out that perhaps things are not quite what they seem (such as the discussion about Dean & Deluca I spoke about in the MVP Rewards post.) It was great talking to everyone and awesome that the Diamondbacks are so interested in gaining the fan’s perspective on things. While I was talking, Dakota was sampling all of the food making sure he tried a little bit of everything. It was an amazing experience and I got to meet some great baseball fans and wonderful Diamondbacks personnel. I’m sure they probably didn’t want to hear about my thoughts on Sedona Red, Black, and Sand but they were very professional listening to my comments.
As the game got ready to start, I settled down in a seat along the left side of the suite and began to keep score. The first batter was Dave Roberts and the first pitch he fouls back right to where Trina was sitting (a seat to my left). I jumped up to shield her from the ball (I always do that as I know how hard those travel and I would feel really bad it they got hit attending a game with me.) The ball hit the top of the scoreboard right in front of us and bounced nearly back to the field of play. I was ticked that I didn’t reach down and field that ball but then Trina looked at the scoreboard and it had a big freaking dent in it where the ball had hit. Chances are if I would have tried to catch that I would have either broken a finger or hand. I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about not getting to that one. I stayed in the suite to watch the game but I continued to worry about leaving my seats empty. They have not been empty for any game this season and somehow I felt like I was letting the team down by not being there. I got the binoculars out to check on my seat and I found someone was sitting in it! I now knew exactly what the three bears felt like when they came home and caught Goldilocks breaking and entering. What was worse was that the guy looked like same homeless guy that asks me for money outside the stadium after every game. How the heck does a homeless guy get into the stadium and who does he think he is sitting in my seat? This is obviously going to bug me the whole game.
The game was pretty even until Mike Cameron hit a shot into left field that nearly made it to Friday’s Front Row Grill to put the Padres up 2-0. Carlos Quentin robbed the Padres of a home run making an outstanding leaping catch near the pool. Stephen Drew hit a bomb into the pool throwing water 5 feet at splash down cutting the deficit to 3-1. Then the game started to get weird. Two obviously drunk fans jumped onto the field along the left field line and sprinted towards the pool. Security guards came out of no where giving chase to these two idiots. The one guy tried to throw them off by tossing a ball onto the playing field. I guess his theory was that the security guys would stop to pick up the ball and forget about the fans on the field. The first guy was tiring fast and by the time he got to the pool he didn’t have enough energy to climb the fence. The security guards slammed him down onto the warning track face first. The second guy was in better shape and he actually made it to the pool fence and climbed over. What he didn’t anticipate was that the fans there were siding with security and they tagged him and pushed him back towards the playing field. While the idiot was struggling with the pool fans, security grabbed him by the shoulder and threw him back onto the warning track where he landed head first. They cuffed both of these morons and took them away to the holding cell under the right field stands. That definitely brings new meaning to the word Fandemonium.
The game ended with a save by Trevor Hoffman that allowed the San Diego Padres to clinch a play-off spot. It is still to be determined whether they will be the wild card team or the National League Western Division champion. That will be decided at tomorrow’s game. So today was amazing and I cannot thank the Arizona Diamondbacks enough for everything. They have made this a magical season regardless of the outcome on the field. Me and from what I could see in my binoculars, the homeless guy, had a great time today.