On October 1, 2006 the Arizona Diamondbacks said farewell to two of the most charismatic and loyal players: Luis Gonzalez and Craig Counsell. The parting of ways was not the most amicable especially in the case of Gonzalez. Gonzo had played in Arizona for the Diamondbacks since 1999 and had become the face of the franchise for both his on-field performance and his off-field persona. It was an emotional good-bye for both players and fans. The Diamondbacks painted a number 20 in left field and a number 4 behind second base. Fans came in droves to the last game of the season to wish Gonzalez the best and to thank him for everything that he had done for the team and for the community. Gonzalez wanted to remain a Diamondback and was willing to accept a lesser role with the team to stay in Arizona. The team had no interest in picking up Gonzo’s option for 2007 nor were they willing to discuss Luis coming back as a bench or part-time player. The team was opting to give their young prospects an opportunity to make their mark in the major leagues. It was merely an added benefit that the team would save money going young at this juncture. So in the end it became a business decision to part ways with the most recognizable person in Diamondbacks history. Gonzalez was not prepared to retire and wanted to play a couple of more years. Since his team did not want him, Gonzo wanted to sign a free agent contract with a National League team preferably one in the Western Division so that he could play the Diamondbacks regularly and hopefully show them that they made a mistake by passing up on his services. In the off-season Luis Gonzalez signed a contract to play with divisional rival Los Angeles. Tonight’s game marks the first meeting of the 2007 season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. A mere half game separates these two teams in the standings with the Diamondbacks in first place and the Dodgers right behind them as if this game needed any more drama.


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In the movie Back to the Future it seems that November 5, 1955 is the center of the time space continuum. All events future and past all seem to be connected by that one day. It started innocently enough when Doc Brown was describing to Marty McFly how the DeLoren time machine works. That tutorial was cut short when Libyans arrived at the Twin Pines Mall seeking vengeance against Doc Brown for stealing their plutonium. This sequence always made me wonder whether a simple somewhat trivial event in my life could somehow become the defining moment in the timeline of the universe. Based upon the events of today, I am wondering if April 14, 2007 may just be that day.


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There are days when you just have to wonder whether God has some sort of perverted sense of humor. There is just no other explanation in my mind. How else can you explain the series of events that I had to endure at tonight’s baseball game? Ever since the 2007 regular schedule had been released I had been looking forward to today’s game. It was the first of six bobble head giveaway nights. This one would commemorate Brandon Webb receiving the 2007 Cy Young award. Bobble head nights are big at our house. I have a full collection of all the bobble heads that the Diamondbacks have given away since their inception. They are lined across the top of my desk and stand guard over my computer. There is nothing quite as comforting as knowing that you are being protected by little guys with springs in their heads that move at the slightest amount of movement. In the early years bobble head games were a huge affair to the Diamondbacks and people would begin lining up at 7 AM waiting for the gates to open at 4:30 PM. Many a day have I spent in the glaring sun of then Bank One Ballpark hoping to be counted among the first 20,000 to arrive to collect a bobble head. Those days have been replaced with a more civilized version with lines forming only an hour before gates open relieving a lot of stress and anxiety of wondering whether you would get one of these prized giveaways. Bobble head days are one of the few games where Whitney actually doesn’t mind going to the game which is good since she is the only one capable of going to today’s game due to scheduling conflicts. Given all of the excitement and anticipation of bobble head day you would think nothing could damper my spirits. That is where you are sorely mistaken. This was like the worst flipping day of my whole life.


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Paraskevidekatriaphobia, even the word sends chills down my spine. When the baseball schedule is released every year I go through it with a fine tooth comb looking at potential match-ups, length of home stands, comparing gameday giveaways, and in general planning out my summer. After the first five or six reviews of the schedule I finally get down to marking out the calendar so that Trina and the kids know when I will be at home and when I will be at HOME (Chase Field). It was during this last review that I suddenly realized that the Arizona Diamondbacks would be playing on April 13 which is a Friday. Friday the thirteenth? Was this some kind of joke? Who in their right minds would schedule a baseball team to play on one of the most unlucky days of the year? This had to be some kind of mistake didn’t it? This is the kind of thing that can cause you to lose an entire season. What was even more inexplicable was the fact that the Diamondbacks would have an off-day on Thursday April 12 as did their Friday opponent the Colorado Rockies. Why in the world didn’t the scheduling geniuses at Major League Baseball just move the game ahead one day to the twelfth and then give the team the day off today eliminating any potentially devastating disasters? I guess for the same reason that they scheduled home games in the middle of winter storms in Chicago, Cleveland, and New York.


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This season marks the tenth season that I have attended Arizona Diamondbacks ball games at Bank One Ballpark / Chase Field. I’ve attended 558 regular season games during that time. I’ve also attended every post season and Spring Training game that has ever been played at the stadium. Besides baseball I’ve also been to monster truck rallies, motocross races, a boat show, a marching band competition, and even a women’s college basketball game at the stadium. You would think that with all these visits to events that I would have done about everything there is to do at Chase Field. Well, not quite. I’ve never been selected to be in the condiment races during a game although my daughter Whitney did so I guess I can count that by family association. Still I would love a chance to get up on the dugout and run in place proudly wearing my “I am Relish” T-shirt. Of course now they are dressing the contestants up in these hideous looking hot dog costumes that look like they were left over from a Wal-Mart Halloween costume sale so I may want to rethink my life long dream of being a condiment. The other thing I always wanted to do was to watch a game from the pool area in right field. Since the Arizona Diamondbacks are the only team in Major League Baseball to have a pool inside their home stadium I look at this as more of a conversation starter than anything. I’ve suggested to Trina that we rent the pool for a game just so that I can say that I’ve done it but she always balks at the idea especially when she sees the price. So that may be something I never will experience as a fan of the Diamondbacks. Just because I haven’t done it, doesn’t mean I am completely oblivious to what the experience is like.


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Last night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds had a little bit of everything. It was the best night of baseball I have seen at Chase Field all season. Of course it is only the second game of the season at Chase Field so my sample size for that statistic might be a little misleading. Nonetheless, it was a great night to be at the ballpark. After an opening night that saw 49,481 fans in attendance, there was a slight drop off in paid attendance to the second game. During the eighth inning it flashed on the JumboTron that 22,225. Less than half of those who were here last night came back for the encore. Considering that the team had just won 5 in a row and were sitting atop the National League Western Division, that is kind of sad. Some of the drop could be attributed to there being a Phoenix Suns basketball game but still there is no good explanation for why so many fans are still sitting on the fence rather than sitting in the seats. It may take a few games for fans to begin to get behind this team. So for those who aren’t sure whether to go down to Chase Field and catch a game, let me give you a few reasons based on tonight’s game of why this would be a good idea.


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Last night did not go completely as planned. While the game was a blast and both Trina and I had a good time, there was one unexpected incident that put a damper on our evening.

For the past 10 years I have gone to every Diamondbacks home opener and each time I take a camera with me to get some shots of the game and the fans that are enjoying it. In 1998 I used my Olympus OM-4 35mm camera with a 180mm telephoto lens and a 2x teleconverter making the lens essentially a 360mm f/5.6.

As years progressed so did my camera equipment. Before long I had embraced the digital era and moved away from my film SLR and to a digital SLR. I collect cameras kind of like I collect bobble heads (at least that is what Trina would have you believe).

I have several camera and lens combinations that have accompanied me to the games documenting our experiences and those of fellow fans. The latest equipment I am using is a Nikon D200 digital SLR camera and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

From our seat location the lens is able to get a decent shot of the pitcher and the batter so I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what pictures I would be able to capture at the home opener. (The pictures from last night’s game are on my personal web site if you are interested in seeing what I took.

I’ll be incorporating these photos into the rotation of pictures on NowHitting.com during the upcoming days.) These photos nearly didn’t happen though.


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