State of the Home Stand Address – September 17-23

Today marks the first day after the ending of a home stand and that can mean just one thing; it is time for the final installment of the State of the Home Stand Address. This has become a season long series where I attempt to look back over the previous home stand and identify things that went well, things that didn’t go well, and things around the ballpark that may have changed. The home stand going from September 17 through September 23 marked the final home stand of the 2007 regular season. Hopefully there will be three more home stands this year as that would signify that the Arizona Diamondbacks have made the play-offs and advanced to the World Series. When (notice I didn’t say “if”) these occur I’ll add an address entry for those too. For now though let’s concentrate on the last two home series of the 2007 regular season.

The home stand began with a three game series against National League Western Division rival San Francisco Giants. This should have been the Diamondbacks fans last chance to see Barry Bonds in a Giants uniform and give him the type of ovation that he deserves. Instead the fans did not get this opportunity as Bonds did not play due to a sprained toe. Attendance to these three games was markedly above the season average for Chase Field. Whether this was a result of people thinking they would see Barry Bonds in action or that fans are finally starting to realize how great the Diamondbacks are playing is unknown. The point was that fans were in the stands and quite vocal in their support of the home team. It sometimes amazes me to see the difference in the fan base from when the season began to where it is now. For much of the first month it felt as though there were cardboard cut-outs representing fans seated in the stadium. They cheered when prodded by the JumboTron and seemed more interested in the wave than the action on the field. That is changing. Now the fans are vocal in both their support and their displeasure with the team’s performance. They are cheering at the right times and making it difficult for opposing team fans to be heard. If this trend continues it will pay dividends if the Diamondbacks reach the post season. They are still cheering the wave so there is work remaining to be done but this is at least a start. The series didn’t start well when Tony Pena struggled and the Diamondbacks lost game one in heartbreaking fashion. This young Diamondbacks team showed their strength by bouncing back from this tough loss winning the next two games and the series. This marked the first time in 3 years that the Diamondbacks took a season series from the Giants.

After a rare off-day during a home stand the Diamondbacks opened up the final home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A week earlier everyone looked at this series as having huge play-off implications. That was before the Dodgers started a free fall deeper than the Grand Canyon. Instead this series became a tune-up for the Diamondbacks going into the final week of the season. Taking 2 of 3 games from the Dodgers has put a lot of pressure on the Padres, Rockies, and Phillies

Friday’s game featured a promotional giveaway where the team gave “Anybody, Anytime” T-shirts to all the fans. This is a slogan coined by infielder Tony Clark and refers to the fact that anybody on the Diamondbacks roster is capable of being a hero at anytime. The back of the shirts featured accomplishments of different players throughout the season. It was a great idea and it was fun looking at the various fans in the stands and recounting the events from the 2007 campaign. The “Fandemonium!” promotion was another big hit with the fans. And while it lacked some of the interesting prizes of the past like the small fishing boat from 1998; there were still some great prizes. It did seem kind of strange that one of the prizes was a 4-night stay at a resort in Hawaii but did not include airfare; overall there were a lot of cool things to be won. Starting on Friday night the Diamondbacks held their annual “Shirts off our D-backs” campaign where you could purchase scratcher tickets for a chance to win the jersey off the back of a Diamondbacks player or coach. The money went to charity so it is a win-win proposition. That being said, I don’t recall ever meeting anyone in the past 10 years who actually won one of these. I see people every year go down onto the field after the final game and be presented with a jersey but I have never actually seen or talked to anyone whose scratcher ticket won. I’m not saying it is rigged, I am confident that it is run fairly. I am just saying that I would have thought in 10 years I would have witnessed someone who had scratched off a winner.

I had not expected the Diamondbacks to make any changes to Chase Field with just 6 games remaining but again I stand corrected. At various places around the main concourse the Diamondbacks have installed projectors that show commercials and messages on the floor of the walkway. That is a cool idea and a lot of people stopped and watched them during the Giants series. That happened less during the Dodgers series which I attribute to the fact that the crowds were much larger for Los Angeles so there was not room enough to project the message onto the floor. I am curious to see how these projectors work out next season and what types of messages the Diamondbacks will use them for.

For the final home stand I attempted to try several concessionaires to see how things were going. I of course had to end the year the way I started with a Hungry Hill sausage. For anyone who has never been to Chase Field I cannot recommend these enough. I’ve yet to have a bad sandwich there. I am happy to report that Hungry Hill now has spicy mustard in packets. That is something that I have lamented most of the season so it is awesome to see spicy mustard return. I had an opportunity to try Taste of the Majors again. Their service continues to degrade in my opinion. The Taste of the Majors on the main concourse is by far the slowest concessionaire in the ballpark. One game during the season we went to get food after the Dodgers batting practice. There were 4 fans in front of us in line and by the time we received our food we had missed the National Anthem, the ceremonial first pitch, and half of the first inning. We were not alone in our frustration. Many fans left disgusted. Ribbies menu board still has their chicken tender meal listed for $8 even though it is $7 and rings up that way. This has become a running joke with me. Each game I go there and check the menu and ask the cashier what the price is. This is the only place in the ballpark where the chicken tender price is listed for $8. All I can figure is that they must have run out of the number 7.

The overall fan experience at the ballpark has increased this season. The employees regardless of the department seem more helpful and friendly than in years past. Perhaps I am just more aware of it because I am looking for things to write about during the Home Stand Address but I seriously think that customer service has gotten better than in years past. I would definitely classify this season as a success both on the field and in the stands and I am looking forward to seeing what changes lay ahead.

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