The Home Opener

It seems like only last week I was excitedly talking about Opening Day and the beginning of baseball. Oh wait, that was just last week.

I wondered whether the Diamondbacks Home Opener would be diluted or less exciting because I had attended Opening Day in Colorado. Just as soon as I asked that question of myself I immediately began to laugh. That has to be the stupidest question I have ever asked myself and I have asked a lot of stupid questions.

I’ve never been to a Diamondbacks game that I wasn’t excited. In fact, I have never had a dream about going to an Arizona Diamondbacks game where I wasn’t excited.

Excitement level is probably not something I need to be worried about. I had more important and pressing things on my mind. It seems that all the clocks in my house are broken. There is no other explanation for why time has moved so slowly today.

We had planned to leave our house just before 4 PM and yet the hands on the analog clocks didn’t seem to move at all. I sat and stared at my watch for what I thought was 5 minutes and yet it only showed that 1 minute had gone by. At this rate I didn’t think I would ever live to see 4 PM.


Last night before going to bed I had laid out what I would wear to the game today. I had my new white home D-backs jersey personalized with my name on the back. I had my red and black Under Armour shirt so that the jersey doesn’t rub you wrong.

I had my lucky Teva sandals that I have worn for 6 seasons (much to the chagrin of Trina who wanted those sandals retired during the first Bush administration). I had my Sedona Red hat with the Black “D” logo. Everything was ready.

I felt like one of those firemen who sleep with their clothes next to them so that they can jump into them; slide down the fire pole and onto a waiting fire engine. Now that the Diamondbacks are wearing red that analogy makes a lot more sense than it did when they wore purple and teal. So while the clock slowly inched its way towards 4 PM, I paced and stared at my watch.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity it was time to head to Chase Field. Like the previous 9 Opening Days Trina would accompany me to the ballpark. This is the one day she knows she will always have a date.

Not just any date, an Opening Day date which we all know is the coolest date you can have. I mean where else can a guy take his best girl that includes, dinner, lots of emotions where a guy can show his sensitive side (you try not crying when Jose Valverde walks the tying run in the ninth inning), and bunting.

Nothing quite says “I love you” like the red, white and blue bunting that is hung from the fronts of the bleachers on Opening Day and during the post season.

As we began our drive down to Chase Field we suddenly found ourselves stuck in traffic on Interstate 10. I dialed in the local radio stations to try and assess what was happening. The announcers were busy rattling off wreck after wreck on the stretch of road between home and Chase Field.

The clocks which had been broken and barely moved all day long suddenly came alive and time flew by as I sat in my car in traffic. How is it possible that when you most want time to press forward it inches along but if you have to be somewhere and you can’t get there time flies like a Randy Johnson fastball?

I was near my wits end as traffic continued to inch along. I assessed my options and made a management decision that it was time for plan “B” (the “B” stands for baseball in case you were wondering).

I exited the freeway and instinct took over. I was one with the car accelerating and decelerating, moving left and right leaving traffic in a state of amazement. The funny thing was all of this occurred within the posted speed limit and traffic laws. I just seemed to sense which lane would stop and this anticipation allowed me to move around potential problem areas.

Within moments we found ourselves in the shadows of Chase Field. The sight of the crowd around the stadium nearly brought a tear to my eye. (See above for sensitive side benefits for taking girls to baseball games. The only way I could have been more sensitive would be if I had a puppy with me.)

The gates to Chase Field opened with all of the majesty and anticipation as those to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory without having to deal with the scary personality of Johnny Depp or the hair of Gene Wilder.

I eagerly went through the gates and walked into the rotunda. It felt so good to be back at the ballpark. There was the program guy yelling at fans to get their copy of the official game program. I of course had to have one since it contained the scorecard for today’s game.

I had anticipated paying a dollar as I had in years past but was told in no uncertain terms that the 2007 price was $3 for a program. Wow, I wonder if the increase was a result of gas prices? No matter, nothing could damper my spirits.

As we entered the ballpark I again marveled at the view. The Diamondbacks had removed several of the vendors at the entry giving the fans a view of the field as they came through the doors. I just love that change. It’s especially rewarding since the section that is opened up is 132 which is where I am sitting this year.

Trina and I made our way down to our seats and watched batting practice. I was busy pointing out each detail of the stadium so that Trina could appreciate the number of changes that had been made since we were here last September.

I have to admit, she did not seem nearly as excited as I was. Maybe she is just better at hiding it than I am. Once the Diamondbacks had concluded batting practice, we made our way to the concourse to try and find a few opening day items at the Team Shop. I wanted to get an Opening Day hat, pin, and baseball to add to my collection.

We stood on the concourse trying to decide which shop we should attempt to enter. I was pointing in different directions trying to make a decision. Trina was not paying attention, she was looking elsewhere.

Suddenly she tugged on my jersey to turn around. As I did she pointed above the main team shop. In his office was Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall who was waving and pointing to my Sedona Red and White jersey giving me the thumbs up.

I have to admit, I did feel better wearing the new white home jersey than I did wearing the purple jersey that Mr. Hall had caught me in during Spring Training. I waved back and smiled.

Trina and I made our rounds through the stadium looking at all the changes that had been made and assessing which team shop had the smallest lines. We finally found one that had relatively short lines.

I was able to get my Opening Day items so I couldn’t be happier (unless Trina is reading this then I will change that last sentence to read “I was able to get my Opening Day items that made me almost as happy as the day our children were born, the day I was married, or the day I met Trina.”)

Let’s just say I was pretty happy. After completing the rounds of the concourse we made our way back to our seats and I settled in to enter the line-ups in the scorebook and get ready for the game to start. Once this ritual starts it signals the end of me getting up until the game is over.

This is the biggest reason why I moved to Section 132 in the middle of the row. Last year we sat on the aisle and people crawled over us all game long. This year I hope to minimize the disruptions by sitting dead center in the row. Now if I can only get the fans around me to get to the game on time so we aren’t doing the wave trying to get seated it will be perfect.

The pre-game festivities were great. The player introductions are always exciting as they stand on the third base line and acknowledge the fans cheering when their names are called. For the game the roof to Chase Field is open revealing the blue sky and later then stars of the heavens.

The National Anthem was performed by six-year old trumpet player Geoffrey Gallante. That kid was amazing and got more of an ovation than the four F-16 fighter jets that did a fly over. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Christian Howard who was accompanied by his mother Elizabeth Howard.

Both of these fans have attended every Opening Day at Chase Field to honor the memory of their father/husband Johnny Howard who worked as a steel worker during construction of Chase Field. What a great story and what deserving fans.

As the game unfolded I began to wonder if this may be the last time I ever would wear the white home jersey. The Diamondbacks were getting no-hit into the fifth inning. That would be bad to open the season at home with a no-hitter thrown against us.

Fortunately Conor Jackson broke it up allowing me a sigh of relief. I can deal with losing 2-0 but I can’t deal with having another no-hitter thrown against us for the loss.

The jersey survives though thanks to the clutch hitting and baserunning that the Diamondbacks exhibited. As Orlando Hudson’s home run sailed into the left field stands to give the Diamondbacks the lead, the night became perfect.

In front of a sell-out crowd baseball was back at Chase Field and I was once again at home. I only hope the next 80 games at Chase are as much fun as this one.


1 Comment

  1. The Camera Incident

    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…

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