Books, Bikes, and Baseball

There were activities for everyone at today’s game. It was Family Emergency Preparedness day with exhibits set up on the plaza to teach you how to keep your family safe. It was Bike to Chase day where families could ride bicycles to the ballpark to teach you about bike safety and give everyone an opportunity to get a little bit of exercise. Once you entered the stadium they had Diamondbacks Sportscaster and former Major League Baseball player Joe Garagiola Sr. there signing copies of his book Just Play Ball. Somewhere lost in the midst of all this activity was the fact that there was a baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants. It was the final game of the series and the homestand and a lot was on the line.

The San Francisco Giants came into this series having won 8 games in a row including a 3 game sweep against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week at AT&T Park. The Diamondbacks had won the previous two games of the series at Chase Field but not without a lot of stress and fear. Barry Bonds continued his attack on Hank Aaron’s home run record and Diamondbacks pitchers had their names added to the growing number that had given up home runs bringing Bonds closer to his goal. There were pitching duels and there were hitting clinics and many of those occurred in the same game. So on a warm and sunny day in the Arizona desert the Diamondbacks faced the Giants. The winner could possibly find themselves in the lead in the division while the loser could see themselves near the bottom of the standings. The National League Western Division is going to be like that all season. The teams are closely matched and any team is capable of beating any other team at all times. Like the previous two games in this series the lead changed hands several times and the emotions of the fans went from joy to sorrow and back to joy. It was Randy Johnson’s second game this season and expectations were perhaps too high given that he is coming back from back surgery and struggling with his battle against father time. The fans seem less inclined to give Randy the benefit of the doubt and quickly began to get frustrated if pitch selection or location were not perfect. It is interesting how different the expectations are for Randy versus what they are for the other members of the starting rotation. Fans in Arizona seem to expect Johnson to be the same dominating power pitcher that he was six years ago. Many things have changed since that time the least of which is that we are now 8 years older than we were back then. To his credit Randy Johnson holds himself to the same high expectations that the fans do which makes it even more painful to see him not reach his goals. Pitch location was much sharper this time than on Tuesday and I thought he had better command of all of his pitches. It was obvious when he began to tire as the pitches stayed up and got too much of the plate allowing Giants hitters to take advantage of the situation. I so wanted to see Randy get the win but that was not to be. Instead the Diamondbacks bullpen once again showed the positive results we have seen all season. Brandon Medders was the recipient of offensive help this time and came away with a win completing the sweep of the Giants and a continuation of the Diamondbacks 5 game winning streak.

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