This marks the latest in a continuing series of posts where I review the state of Chase Field from a fans perspective. I try to do this at the end of each home stand to describe how things are going as seen from the viewpoint of a guy in section 132. This home stand saw a continuation of Interleague Play with a three game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Baltimore Orioles and ended with a four game series against National League West rival Los Angeles Dodgers. This home stand marked the midway point of the 2007 season for home games at Chase Field. We should no longer expect things to be ramping up at the stadium but rather be executing according to plan. Anything out of the ordinary probably means something is amiss.


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At some point in the season this is bound to happen, the Diamondbacks will leave for a road trip. Usually this means that I will not be going to Chase Field for a few days. This time the road trip is a little more extensive. After an abysmal series where the Dodgers took three of four leaving the Diamondbacks looking up at both the Dodgers and the Padres in the standings; the team is now out of town until after the All-Star break. The mere typing of that makes my blood run cold and causes me to break out in a cold sweat. It is not just the thought of no home games that leaves me breathless; it is the fear of what Trina may have me do with this many days between home games. I’ve seen the way she wields a honey-do list. No good can possibly come from nearly two weeks without going to a Diamondbacks game.


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For the second time in eight days the Arizona Diamondbacks played host to an afternoon game at Chase Field. Most of the time games begin at 6:40 PM allowing fans a chance to get home from work before traveling to downtown Phoenix to attend a game. Sometimes we find ourselves with an afternoon game when it is “getaway day” and teams are flying out for the east coast. This is the first time that I can remember when that has occurred in just over a week. I had to check my surroundings and make sure I had not somehow been teleported into an alternate universe where the Diamondbacks were now playing in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.


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The first two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers have been less than stellar if you are an Arizona Diamondbacks fan. In game one we saw Brad Penny continue his domination over the D-backs beating the home team 7-1. Each time Penny beats the Diamondbacks it acts as a reminder that we traded him away in 1999 to the Florida Marlins along with Vladimir Nunez and a player to be named later (outfielder Abraham Nunez) for oft-injured closer Matt Mantei. I completely understand the trade as we were suffering with Gregg Olson as the closer which was prematurely aging everyone in attendance at what was then Bank One Ballpark.


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I have a ritual that I follow before I leave for every game where I collect the seat cushions that Trina made and pack them for the upcoming game. This includes retrieving the frozen bottles of water that we’ll take to drink; and filling the seat cushion pockets with whatever treats that Trina has bought to keep us entertained and satisfied for the next 5 hours. I’ll then open my scorebook and make sure that I have at least one more page to record the game. Finally I will go to the counter where I keep the ticket books which contain my season tickets and I will tear out the game tickets for today’s date and place them in an envelope. Sometimes Trina and the kids will complete this ritual packing the bags but the last step of gathering the tickets they will leave for me to do. That way I will have peace of mind knowing that when I grab the seat cushions and head out the door I know for sure that I have the correct tickets. It also gives them plausible deniability since they can plead ignorance if we get to Chase Field and find that we don’t have tickets for the right game (which has happened on a few occasions over the years).


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At the end of yesterday’s game I was making my way back up the walkway towards the exit. The Diamondbacks had just beaten the Baltimore Orioles and in the process they scored eight runs meaning all fans in attendance would receive a coupon for a free chalupa at Taco Bell. Life was good and so were the Diamondbacks. A third of the way up in section 133 stood two fans wearing Los Angeles Dodgers jerseys and hats. They were standing there pointing at the Diamondbacks fans and heckling them about how the Dodgers were going to crush Arizona during the next series. Uh, hello, that series hasn’t started yet. In the back of my mind I had to wonder, were these guys so anxious for the series with the Dodgers to begin that they came a day early or were they so stupid that they didn’t realize that the National League West series didn’t start for another 24 hours? From the sounds of these two, I was guessing it was the latter. This did act as a reminder of what I should expect over the course of the next four games.


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There was a lot to look forward to at today’s game. It was the culmination of Interleague play for 2007 which just can’t come soon enough for my tastes. It is an opportunity for the Diamondbacks to make up some ground on their National League Western Division opponents who all had tough series finales. With the Diamondbacks having a share of the division lead, this was extremely exciting. And finally, it was an opportunity to celebrate a very special birthday. My daughter Tiffany would like to believe that it is her birthday that has everyone excited but unfortunately she is mistaken. The stadium is a buzz with the celebration of D. Baxter the Bobcat who is celebrating his 7th birthday during the game today. With all of these activities going on, it sometimes gets lost that there is actually a game being played on the field. One of the more common questions I get asked by people attending a game for the first time is, “what is up with having a cat as the mascot, how did that happen?”


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