I am a baseball fan. I will gladly admit that and wear that title proudly. Trina on the other hand believes that is some kind of admission and the first step to recovery. While Trina and I may disagree on the level of commitment that is healthy for a fan to exhibit, we do both agree that baseball is America’s pastime and the greatest game ever invented. Sure I may occasionally watch some football, 1991 was the last time I think I stayed awake for an entire half of a football game, I just can’t seem to get into that game. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about a sport where they only play once a week for 17 weeks and during that time they have to have a week off. Basketball likewise is not a game I normally get into. I follow the Phoenix Suns as a matter of civic pride and because they too wore Purple but I have been to one Suns game since I moved to Phoenix 13 years ago. That leaves hockey. I went to one Coyotes game but we sat in the upper deck with an obstructed view so it was hard to follow the game. No, baseball is my game and I am comfortable with that. When my friend Andre asked this week if I would be interested in his tickets to the Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey game I gratefully accepted. I thought I would take Trina and Dakota to their first hockey game and since the Phoenix Roadrunners play at US Airways Center we would be right next to Chase Field and I could see how the progress was coming on migrating from purple to Sedona Red. Minor League hockey does not appear to be a big draw in town based on the attendance of me and 500 of my closest friends but I was going in with an open mind that perhaps I could learn to enjoy another sport. What I had not expected was that by the end of the night I would uncover a deep dark secret that impacted not only hockey but my beloved Diamondbacks as well.
We arrived at the stadium early for batting practice or whatever the hockey equivalent is. In baseball, fans would line the bleacher walls hoping the players would hit a home run into the stands. Hockey doesn’t appear to have an equivalent. At least I didn’t see anyone lining up behind the goal hoping that frozen cylinder of rubber would be flying into the stands. As the game began we made our way to our seats. Trina was immediately impressed with this hockey stuff since the seats were padded. Her positive impression of the game waned though when she realized it was never going to get warm in the stands and the concessions didn’t have hot chocolate. Within the first minute the Phoenix Roadrunners scored on a breakaway to take the lead. Shortly there after the Idaho Steelhead scored then scored then scored. It’s really hard to fathom that the Roadrunners were going to be beaten by a team named after a breed of dying salmon and I wondered what was going on. I happened to look up at the scoreboard to see which Phoenix player was the latest to enter the penalty box. (Trina has a strong suspicion that the penalty box was the only place on the rink with a space heater and that is why the Roadrunners continued to establish residence there.) The camera operator was panning the fans and stopped at the far end of the stands and showed a lady dancing up and down the row and more or less making a spectacle of herself. Seeing that sight, I dropped the soda I was holding scattering Sprite up and down the row. It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be. I quickly scanned the crowd to find the woman who had stopped dancing but now was holding a light blue flag and frantically waving it while the players skated down on the rink. “What is it?” Trina asked.
“It’s Rally Sally!” I exclaimed. Rally Sally is my arch nemesis. While we both may consider ourselves fans of the game, we approach our allegiance completely differently. Rally Sally attends the majority of Arizona Diamondbacks games sitting in the rarified air of the upper deck. She has in her possession a series of flags, one for each player on the Diamondbacks roster. She usually starts by dancing up and down the rows during the game and between innings. When the Diamondbacks are up to bat she brings out her flag for the player and frantically waves it around like a maniac. It would be bad enough if I were sitting by her and have to deal with this behavior but the cameramen at the stadium have to make a point to show her on the JumboTron gyrating and waving her flags which just egg her on. I appreciate that she is loyal to the team but the fan should not be bigger than the game. You should never detract from the product on the field. I’m cool with making yourself heard cheering and I’m even cool with you yelling at the players if it is respectful and/or creative. But dancing and rhythmic gymnastics is best left to small gymnasiums in Romania and not Chase Field. Another interesting aspect of Rally Sally is the fact that nearly every game where she becomes the center of attention the Diamondbacks end up losing. Now here I am trying to relax during the off season at a minor league hockey game and who do I run into but Rally Sally. And what is happening to the Phoenix Roadrunners? They are losing. Not just losing but getting pummeled by a bunch of dying fish. In the end Rally Sally danced out of the stands headed back to her car with her flags in tow while I stood there trying to contemplate how the Roadrunners could possibly lose 6-1. It’s clear that the Phoenix sports market has a problem. I think we are in the midst of the Curse of the Rally Sally. This thing could become worse than the Curse of the Bambino and the Goat Curse unless we take some sort of proactive measures to counteract the affects of dancing and flags. I don’t know about you but I plan on doing a Google search on voodoo and curse breaking well before pitchers and catchers report next month.