The first home stand of the 2007 season is now behind us. Over the past 8 games we have been given a brief glimpse of the latest version of the Arizona Diamondbacks and many of us have begun to develop a conclusion of how this team and this season will go.
I’ve decided to provide a home stand by home stand synopsis basically providing my own person state of the union address when it comes to Chase Field and the season in general.
I should probably begin this by providing some sort of warning/disclaimer stating that the viewpoints expressed in this blog entry are my own warped sense of reality and do not reflect the views of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball, or any other normal human being.
Any coherent thoughts either real or fictional are purely coincidental and are not meant to be taken internally. Should this happen, induce vomiting and contact medical professionals. Without further adieu I give you my thoughts on Arizona Diamondbacks 2007.
As a whole I think the first home stand went pretty well. It started with Opening Day on April 9 giving fans their first glimpse of the changes to Chase Field. Gone are much of the purple and teal replaced by 581 gallons of Sedona Red paint and 48,500 Gila River Casino stickers.
I will give the Diamondbacks credit; they were able to pull off a minor miracle by eliminating much of the purple from view. Some parts still seem a little unfinished like the signage on most of the concession stands but all-in-all it definitely shows off the new color scheme.
I was really disappointed that the Diamondbacks chose to paint over the seat end caps in all green covering up the engraved purple and teal “A” logo that is on the end of each row.
I would have liked to have seen the new red logo used but it may have been too much to ask for someone to paint the “A” at the end of each row of seats throughout the stadium (they painted it green so I am not sure how much more time it would have taken to paint red instead.)
Unlike Luis Gonzalez, I am ok with the fact that the photos in the press box and the players clubhouse were left until last to be put up.
Since I only ever saw those when I went on the Chase Field tour I didn’t even realize they were missing until Gonzalez along with reporter Dan Bickley from the Arizona Republic and John Gambodoro of KTAR radio made a federal case about it. Maybe Bickley and Gambodoro can aim their conspiracy theories in a new direction once those pictures return to the walls.
I heard a rumor that Elvis was alive and had in his possession JFK’s brain and that they were secretly leading the efforts by Congress to impeach Barry Bonds from the Hair Club for Men.
The red in general is ok but painting the dugouts with that much paint makes it look like the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. I am not sure how the players can stand that. No wonder most of the sit at the fence in front of the dugout.
That is as far away from those red walls as you can get. I will admit that the red signs for marking the sections are much easier to read and pick out than the purple ones were. I wish they would have made the lettering Sonoran Sand instead of white since I think the sand color is really under utilized.
It was nice to see the stadium sold out for Opening Day. I thought perhaps this town was finally becoming a baseball town. That dream lasted just for Monday’s game though. By the second game of the season the crowd had shrunk by over half.
Based upon attendance thus far it seems like there are roughly 21,000 loyal fans that come to the games nearly every night while there are about 5,000-6,000 fans who come to the game depending on the opponent. Hopefully these figures will grow to the point where there are at least 32,000 fans at every game by season’s end.
I will finally relinquish and agree that Rally Sally can be one of those fans as long as she isn’t sitting in Section 132. That brings me to the subject of ballpark rules. Security gave me grief about my camera for the first time on Opening Day stating there was a policy on how large a camera a fan can bring to the games.
I have subsequently received clarification on what the policy is and have brought my camera several times since. I have not been questioned once since that first game leaving me to wonder how consistent the stadium security crews are in enforcing the rules.
I know for a fact that they ignore the flag rule since according to the booklet that was given to season ticket holders and made available to fans at the Guest Relations office; you are only allowed to bring in flags that have been purchased at the team shop and are not to wave them so that they interfere or obstruct other fans view of the game.
Since Rally Sally makes all of her own flags and doesn’t care where she waves them, she is in direct violation of these rules. She comes to nearly every game and enters at various gates so that tells me that the flag policy is meaningless.
It’s funny, security is completely over the top when it comes to confiscating someone’s plastic Gatorade but they ignore the fact that Rally Sally is carrying a series of fabric weapons that she wields every night potentially causing harm or injury to those around her. (There, I feel better getting that off my chest.)
I applaud the Diamondbacks for their efforts to make the game a more family friendly area and one where you can actually afford to take the family. The family value merchandise is a great way to get your kids some merchandise without taking out a second mortgage. While the quality of the merchandise is definitely not as high as the main team shop gear, it is still very good.
Hopefully it will not be just the one shirt/hat/ball/pin/bat combination and that they provide a small variety over the course of the season for those fans that bring their families to more than one game. I wish the family value would spread to the concessions too. This year it seems like a lot of the prices have gone up.
The chicken tender and fries used to be a good value for a regular fan like myself but this year those have gone up to $8. That is a $3 increase since the 1998 season which seems like a lot to me.
The foot long hot dogs are now $9. It is becoming more and more of a challenge to find a decent meal at the ballpark that doesn’t gouge you. For the casual fan that attends a few games a year you can justify in your mind spending a little extra for food and beverage. But if you go to 81 regular season and 2 Spring Training games, those extra dollars add up.
It used to be that I could make a trip to the ballpark and not counting the price of the tickets I could take one of my kids and have an enjoyable evening for $20. That would include parking, dinner and a program. This year though is something else entirely.
Parking has gone up $2 over last year and $3 since 1998. Programs have gone from $1 to $3 and the scorecard is no longer easily removed. That is really frustrating since I like to take the scorecard out and carry with me in my scorebook. Now I have to carry the whole Diamondbacks Insider magazine with me which I just don’t need.
The cost now is roughly $30 per game or in my case an extra $830 per season. This may be a reason why most fans don’t go to a lot of games.
The concessions are also offering a lot less than they have in years past. The Taste of the Majors used to have a dish for each visiting team where you could sample foods from other ballparks.
That menu has been drastically reduced to just a few generic options such as cheese steak or kielbasa. Ribbies which used to be a good barbeque place has eliminated my favorite the beef brisket sandwich so I don’t go there any more either.
A Hungry Hill sausage is still the best and has become where I frequent the most. For those who have not tried it I highly recommend it. I love the Italian sausage with grilled onions and sauerkraut.
Unfortunately the Diamondbacks have eliminated the spicy mustard condiment leaving just yellow mustard as the only choice. I may have to resort to bringing my own bottle of Gray Poupon if this keeps up.
The color change has resulted in business at the team shops increasing. All of the shops and stands are busy which was not the case last season or the one before that. I have also noticed a lot more jersey’s in the stands than I did in years past. Most of the jerseys are personalized with the person’s name on the back.
This has led me to believe that fans have a closer connection to the team and want to be associated with the new colors. I hadn’t anticipated that being the case so that has been a surprise through this first home stand.
I’m going to continue to monitor that to see if the trend continues. Sedona Red seems to be the most popular of the jerseys you see in the stands followed by the gray. The white and black are rarely seen when I wander around before game time or after the game.
Futures Field on the upper deck where kids can go and play wiffleball is a great addition. If Dakota is any indication, this will be a popular destination for all the kids this season. Where else can you take your children and have someone teach them how to hit and give them pointers?
The field closes at the 7th inning so the kids have time to come back down to their seats and still see the end of the game. This was definitely a home run idea for the Diamondbacks.
The caliber of ball being played on the field is much better than I had anticipated. I think a lot of credit has to go to the coaching staff. I can immediately see a difference in the plate discipline that is occurring from the rookies as well as the veterans.
Kevin Seitzer has done an excellent job with these guys so far and I look forward to seeing the hitting come alive as the players get more comfortable. The baserunning has also been a pleasant surprise.
The players seem to have bought into the approach being proposed by Kirk Gibson and have been aggressive on the basepaths. This is important since the Diamondbacks are going to need to manufacture some runs to be competitive.
It is great to see Carlos Quentin back. His offense was missed and so was his defense. Eric Byrnes seems much more comfortable in left field than he is in right field. It was great to see Byrnes, Young, and Quentin in the outfield together. Their speed and arm strength is something the Diamondbacks have never had in their history and should make for some exciting games.
Well after the first 8 games at Chase Field I can safely say I am excited to have baseball back. I am looking forward to the next 73 games to see how this team and this season evolve.
In the mean time I suggest you go to Diamondbacks web site and purchase some tickets. You never know what might happen at the ballpark and you wouldn’t want to miss a minute of the action. I’ll see you at Chase Field on April 24 when the San Diego Padres come to town. I’ll be the guy in section 132 row 15 seat 14.