Today was historical for a couple of reasons. First it is the final day of 2007 Spring Training for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They would face the San Diego Padres for third time in three days. This game would be played in the friendly confines of Chase Field in an afternoon contest. The second and perhaps more important reason is that today marks the tenth anniversary of the first regular season game against the Colorado Rockies on March 31, 1998. There has been so much baseball played since that first game that sometimes it seems as though the Diamondbacks have been around forever (at least according to my wife Trina). Of course I am more of a glass half full type of guy so I think it feels like the top of the first in a hopefully extra inning game. I can never get enough of this team. With all the special significance of today I definitely wanted to get to the stadium early. Well honestly I always want to get to the stadium early but that’s just me. So with seat cushions packed, Tiffany and I made the trek to Chase Field to see the Arizona Diamondbacks finish out their six weeks of Spring Training as both team and fans prepared for the season to start on Monday April 2.


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I have extensively chronicled my love/hate relationship with the Diamondbacks Sedona Red color change. I’ve vowed to give the new colors a chance and I have even purchased all 4 Authentic Diamondbacks jerseys for the upcoming season. Last night was the first Spring Training game held in Chase Field this year and of course I attended. I got off from work and rushed home to get dressed so that I could be down at the field by the time the gates opened. From my closet I grabbed a home jersey, a home hat, and my sweatshirt (I knew the Diamondbacks would be playing with the roof open and I wasn’t sure whether to expect the massive winds they were predicting or not and since the temperatures at game time were only 67 degrees I figured with a 20 mile an hour wind that would put the wind chill at a very brisk 63 degrees) and headed downstairs to begin packing my seat cushion. This was the old purple and teal seat cushion, not the new and improved Sedona Red and Black Seat Cushion 2.0 which is still in the prototype phase. Trina and the kids got home just as I was finishing. “Are you going to wear that to the game?” was the question I was greeted with by each one of them. Well that was kind of a dumb question, I nearly always wear an authentic jersey and hat to the games. Their initial question was followed up by, “But you’re wearing purple and teal. What is up with that?”


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It has been an eternity since I was last at a game at Chase Field. Eternity in this context is equal to 179 days 1 hour 16 minutes. Today marked an end to the dark and dreary off-season as the Diamondbacks held one of their annual Spring Training games at home. Each year the Diamondbacks play two games at Chase Field after camp has broken at Tucson but before the opening of the regular season. In years past we have seen the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Angels. It’s usually the first look I get at the stadium before games begin to count. The crowds are usually smaller with attendance in the high four figures or low five figures so there is ample room to wander around the stadium and take note of any changes that have occurred since the end of the previous season. It’s also the first time I get to see the sight lines of my seat relocation to help me get acquainted with where I will be sitting for the 81 regular season games. And for those diehard fans such as me, it is a time to see many of the people that I spend my summer with. A lot of these guys become like family since I spend just about as much time with them as I do with my regular family. Like every year, I always try to arrive early to be there just as the gates open two hours before first pitch is scheduled. I can use the extra time to make sure I can find my seat, take pictures of the various changes I find, and get a bite to eat so that I am ready and focused when the game begins. Little did I realize what the implications would be for being early for today’s game.


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It’s funny how time works. If you sit at your desk and stare at the hands of an analog clock you can barely see them move yet after 30 minutes the hands are in very different positions. With a digital clock you can get the same type of experience but it just does not seem dramatic. I tried to explain that to Trina but all she did was complain that she had asked me to take out the garbage a half an hour ago and here I was sitting at my desk staring at my Arizona Diamondbacks clock. Against my better judgment I took this opportunity to mention that we really needed a new clock. First, the hands don’t appear to move unless you don’t look at them and second the clock still has the purple and teal digits on the face and how could I possibly be expected to tell time on a clock that doesn’t include Sedona Red somewhere on the face of it. As proof to my theory that the clock was busted, when I awoke after losing consciousness from being hit in the head by a glad trash bag thrown by my less than forgiving wife I found that the hands showed I was out 2 minutes where my biological clock and the bump on my head felt more like 5 minutes. My point was somehow lost in that last paragraph. I just find it interesting how the speed of time does not appear to be constant. From October 2 through February 19 time appeared to move at the speed of an Amish farmer on his way home from a barn raising while from February 20 through March 28 time accelerated to the speed of light making the past 5 weeks become a blur. It feels like only yesterday I was dancing in the living room at the thoughts that Spring Training was upon us. Wait it was only yesterday I was dancing in the living room but it was because Opening Day was nearly upon us. Today marks the last day of Spring Training in Tucson. After the completion of today’s game against the Chicago White Sox the team will begin its trek up the treacherous Interstate 10 coming home to Phoenix to finish up the final few games before the regular season opens.


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When outfielder Scott Hairston arrived in the clubhouse at Tucson Electric Park this morning he was summoned to manager Bob Melvin’s office. This was an all too familiar trek for Hairston as he had made that same walk each of the three previous years during this week only to be told that he would not be making the trip with the Diamondbacks to Phoenix and he would be sent to the minors to work on some aspect of his game. That news would always be followed by a pep talk where he would be told how he should keep his head up and not let this news get him down. He was still a highly valued part of the organization and that with hard work he would be given a chance to make the team. Scott would be told that over the course of the season things happen and if he would stay prepared he could find himself playing for the Diamondbacks during the year. All those things are meant to put a young player’s mind at ease and minimize the disappointment they feel when they didn’t make the team. On paper it all sounds good but in practice it’s never easy. So it was understandable that Hairston was nervous making that familiar trip into the office where the door would be closed and news delivered. This year was different. Melvin didn’t greet him with a stern face but instead was all smiles. For the first time in his career Scott Hairston would begin the season on the opening day roster for a Major League baseball team.


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On March 31, 1998 the Arizona Diamondbacks welcomed their fans to the first Opening Day of Major League Baseball in Arizona. There was a sell out crowd who had tickets to that historic game and there were countless others without tickets who came down to Bank One Ballpark to soak in the atmosphere of that first game. Trina and I had season tickets to the 1998 Diamondbacks and we were downtown early so that we didn’t miss a moment of the festivities.

As the gates opened I felt like one of the children who had a golden ticket granting them entrance into Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. This though was so much more important than chocolate, it was baseball. As we walked through the turnstile we were greeted by smiling Diamondbacks employees who welcomed up to the game and gave each of us a seat cushion. The cushions were made of purple vinyl with teal piping and had the opening day logo screened across the seat.


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It has been almost two weeks since my tickets arrived for Opening Day in Colorado against the Rockies. Trina was still not budging on her stance that I could not take the kids out of school to take them to a Diamondbacks game in Colorado when the team would be back in Phoenix just a week later. Fortunately for me my friend Mitch Jarvis was more than willing to drop everything he was doing and make the road trip to see the first regular season game in Sedona Red. Since we had the tickets and since it was only a week away I knew we probably needed a place to stay otherwise we would find ourselves camped out in the Coors Field parking lot and the last time I looked at the Weather Channel they were still saying there was a chance that there could be snow that weekend. Personally I think I have developed an allergy to snow since every time I am in it I end up getting sick. So I was all for finding somewhere nice to stay. My idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel where you have to go up or down the elevator to get ice. I have done my share of camping and outdoor stuff but this is baseball and you should be comfortable the night before Opening Day. I was in charge of finding our accommodations for the trip.


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