Float or Sink

I was sitting at my desk pondering the environmental implications of baseball when my cell phone rang. Absently I reached over and answered it. “Hello? Is this Jeff Summers?” the caller asked. “Yes, this is Jeff.” I replied. “This is Carrie from the Arizona Diamondbacks and I am calling to ask if you would be interested in 4 tickets to tonight’s game?” she questioned. Now anyone who knows me should realize what my answer would be. Without hesitation I replied, “Yeah I would love tickets to the Diamondbacks game!” This in and of itself would constitute being an awesome day and the best news I could possibly receive but what happened next just floored me. “These are seats to the pool area at Chase Field for you and three guests. I will leave the tickets at Will Call for you to pick up. I hope that you enjoy the game.” The first thing that went through my mind as the call ended was that I needed Trina to make me a dental appointment. I need to know whether I caused any permanent damage when my chin hit the desk from shock. This is not the first time that Carrie had called me with good news. She is quickly becoming my new hero ranking right above Wonder Woman but just below Batman. I eagerly called home to tell Trina what had just happened. It wasn’t until my conversation with my wife that I actually realized life may not be as perfect as I first anticipated.

I thought Trina was going to be very excited and she was but then she asked me a question that I had not even thought about. “So who doesn’t get to go?” That question stopped me dead in my tracks. In all of my excitement to finally get into the pool area I had not stopped to think that there were 5 in our family and we had 4 seats. Oh boy, this was not going to be good at all. This reminded me of the time that we were invited to the Owner’s Suite last season. That time we had 2 tickets and 4 people wanting to go and that caused all kinds of problems around the house. Yeah this pool thing could be a problem. Obviously all of the kids were going to want to go since they live to swim. Trina seemed to think she was entitled to go too since she has to put up with me every day. Hey, wait a minute, 3 kids plus 1 wife equals me being left out of the pool area. That seems kind of messed up! As the kids each got home from school Trina broke the news to them that we had tickets to get into the pool at Chase Field. The kids immediately broke into song and started doing cartwheels in the living room. All that is except one; Whitney stood somewhat rejected and heartbroken. She had committed to attending a birthday party for a friend and she did not feel right about missing that event even though the pool sounded much more fun. No she would have to pass on this chance of a lifetime. Everyone’s spirits quickly sank with that news as we all felt bad for Whitney. Well everyone except me. I immediately broke into song and began to do cartwheels since I was back on the inside of the pool fence. I did feel bad for Whitney and I admired her for keeping her commitments but it was hard to leave her home knowing we were going to be in the pool area for maybe the only time in our lives and she wouldn’t have that experience.

Just because I had pool tickets didn’t mean my work was over. I had to find replacement fans to man our seats in Section 132. A lot of season ticket holders don’t know this but they are responsible for finding someone to be in their seats if they can’t make it to a game. Otherwise there are a lot of empty seats in the stadium and we just can’t have that. I made some phone calls and found out that Mitch Jarvis was willing to accept this important assignment of occupying my seats for Randy Johnson’s first game back. It was decided that I would leave the tickets under the mat and he would pick them up from there. We said our tearful good-byes to Whitney and made our way to Chase Field. It was a glorious night and had almost an electric feel to the air. This was an experience I had thought would never occur. In my excitement I completely forgot to take my scorebook. Without my seat cushion and my scorebook I felt utterly lost. So did Dakota. As we walked from our car to Chase Field he commented, “It doesn’t feel like we are going to a game. Without our seat cushions it feels like we are just wandering around.” That was true, it did feel really weird.

We picked up the tickets and entered the stadium. It just felt different walking by Section 132 and heading towards the right field bleachers. We walked down to the pool gate and the usher asked to see our tickets. I have to admit I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz trying to gain entrance into the Emerald City. The golden tickets worked, the gates swung open and we were greeted. Our tickets were stamped and we were given a red and gold wristband. This is so cool. Not only do we get to go into the pool area but we also get free jewelry. Dakota proudly announced that this wrist band was never going to come off. I wondered at what age he would be when circulation completely stopped at his left wrist.

In the pool area were other season ticket holders who had been chosen to experience this event. Each of them was as giddy as I was. It was definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience. The happiness subsided when Trina’s phone rang and it was Whitney. Her friend’s birthday party was cancelled and she was now home all alone. I felt really bad. I asked if Mitch had come and picked up the tickets yet. If not he could bring her to Chase Field and I would give up my spot in the pool for her. Unfortunately he had already gotten the tickets so there was no way for Whitney to get to the field. My heart was pretty heavy every time I thought about her being home all alone while I was walking the cool deck at the Chase Field pool. It didn’t stop all the fun though. That would be impossible since I was at a game and in the pool area. The ushers welcomed us in and offered snacks and beverages. They also presented us with a Sedona Red hat and beach towel. Oh my gosh, that was the coolest towel I had ever seen. I immediately turned to Trina to announce that I wanted all of our towels in our bathroom to look like these. I don’t think Trina heard me though because she just stared blankly into space. Maybe she was doing like I was and envisioning how perfect it would be to have a black, Sedona Red, and Sonoran Sand bathroom. We would have to find some NY Yankee toilet paper of course but I was sure someone had that for sale.

Trina was completely psyched at being in the pool and just knew that we would be catching a ball. So far this season no one had hit a ball anywhere near the pool but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or disappoint her and so I just went along with it. Dakota was in the water from the moment we entered the pool area. He only stuck his head out of the water long enough to tell Trina that he was hungry. Don’t look at me, once the game starts I am not leaving for nothing so that meant Trina and Tiffany would go out for food. While they were gone Dakota got out of the pool to ask me how long I thought mom would be gone. When I went to answer him the Diamondbacks hit a ball that was coming directly at Dakota. I grabbed his head and pushed him below the wall just in case it cleared for a home run. The ball was just slightly short of that and Padres outfielder Brian Giles hit the wall going all out. It laid him out flat as the ball careened across the outfield. I wanted to get a picture of Giles but he was too close lying at the foot of the wall right below me. I yelled and asked if he could please roll over a couple of times so that he would fit in the frame of my camera but he just laid there dazed. Not really fan friendly if you ask me. Trina and Tiffany came back and Dakota immediately told them what had just happened. Trina was miffed that she was not there to see probably the only ball that would be hit near the pool area. Her assessment was not quite accurate as a couple of innings later a ball was hit right in front of me again (I had moved to the far end of the pool to shoot pictures) and Carlos Quentin ran it down for an out. I was starting to feel like a ball magnet and that didn’t go completely unnoticed by the other members of the pool brigade. For the rest of the game everyone gave me a little space since they were sure I was going to be hit that night.

And while the Arizona Diamondbacks were not able to come up with a win and Randy Johnson struggled towards the end of his outing, it was a great time. After the game we were walking to the car and Dakota looked up at me and said, “This has got to be the funnest time we ever had at the ballpark. The only thing that would have been better would have been if they would have played that float or sink game and used Rally Sally.” Ah, like father like son. My only regret is that Whitney wasn’t with us to experience a night at the pool.

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