Usually at this point of the year the mail man has overcome his fear of the crazed Diamondbacks fan that lives on his route. I am typically too busy calculating play-off “magic numbers” or developing a seat relocation strategy to be bothering postal workers. About the only time I get too out of hand is when my D-Backs Insider magazine is late arriving. I have this theory that my magazine is late because the guys at the post office are each reading it before they deliver it to me. Trina thinks I am turning into a conspiracy theorist. Personally I think Trina is in cahoots with the post office but that is just a theory. Anyway, my magazine had arrived on time this month so I was content leaving the mail man alone. That is until I got today’s mail.


Buried within the stack of bills that never seems to end and right under the last chance offer from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse giveaway was a post card. I don’t usually get post cards so this one immediately caught my eye. I like postcards; they give me a glimpse of faraway and exotic locations and lets you dream about what it would be like to be in that place instead of dealing with things at home. I’ve always wanted to get a stack of postcards that showed the view from Chase Field Section 132 Row 15. That is a lot more exotic and cool looking than anywhere else on the planet. I mean who wouldn’t rather be at a Diamondbacks game instead of lying on a beach in Hawaii? Hawaii doesn’t even have a baseball team, what fun would that be?

So while I was standing there daydreaming of sitting at the ballpark writing postcards to all of my friends from my seats at Chase Field, Trina came and took the mail from me leaving me with only the postcard. After a content sign I returned to reality and looked at the postcard I was holding. It was from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wow, that was like déjà vu or something. I turned the card over fully expecting to see my handwriting with a brief note, “The game is great, wish you were here!” Instead I found printed instructions of what I should expect.

Early next week the Arizona Diamondbacks will begin distributing post season ticket packages to those fans who have purchased play-off tickets. Red flashing lights and a siren went off in my head which is about 180 degrees different from where my mind was just one minute ago. This news meant only one thing, our house is immediately going on play-off ticket alert. The United States military has something called DEFCON which stands for defense readiness condition. It is a ranking going from 5 to 1 and describes the readiness of the United States Armed Forces. DEFCON 5 represents normal peacetime military readiness. On the other end of the spectrum is DEFCON 1 which represents maximum readiness reserved for describing an imminent attack on the United States military and includes the authorization to use nuclear weapons for protection. At our house we have a similar protocol. I like to call it PLAYCON. It describes our readiness for the post season. PLAYCON 5 represents the normal condition where we are in the regular season and the team is playing adequately well. The season is still early enough that we haven’t really thought much about play-offs but we’re also not choking like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays either. PLAYCON 4 refers to normal circumstances with an increased level of intelligence. This usually occurs just before the trading deadline as teams attempt to make deals for a play-off run. Life is still pretty normal but there is a lot more checking of the stats from other players who could become Arizona Diamondbacks. PLAYCON 3 refers to an increase in play-off readiness that normally occurs after the trading deadline passes but before rosters expand in September. Every game seems to have a little bit more significance and the code word “magic number” begins to enter into everyday conversations. PLAYCON 2 is a state where post season inclusion is imminent. There is troop movement (in this case play-off rosters) is established and pitching rotation begins to adapt to set up proper match-ups for the first round of the play-offs. This level of readiness includes managing the logistics for obtaining tickets and developing alternative plans for any activity that could interfere with attending a play-off game (this has been known to include calls to far away relatives with certain dates that are off-limits for life events such as weddings or funerals). PLAYCON 1 refers to maximum readiness. This level of readiness has only occurred once in 2001 when the Arizona Diamondbacks reached the World Series against the New York Yankees. All non-baseball related conversations are placed in internment camps to be revisited after the World Series completed.

These levels of readiness are taken very seriously at our house and everyone immediately checks the PLAYCON status. I took the postcard and placed it on the refrigerator with a magnet. Dakota was the first to spot it and upon reading the card immediately declared the house to be at PLAYCON 2! There was a chill that swept through everyone. This was serious stuff. We have not been at this level since 2002. The girls began to whimper thinking back over what was expected back then. Dakota was excited. He has waited half his life to finally get to this point and he was not about to miss it. Somewhere in the distance I thought I heard a mail man crying. I don’t know what that means.