The Sultanes of Swing

Yesterday was an emotional rollercoaster ride at Chase Field. While exciting to finally be back “home” enjoying my first game in Section 112 it was also filled with disappointment and in some cases fear as news continued to come out about Doug Davis and his impending battle with thyroid cancer. But while there seemed to be a darkening cloud on the horizon of last night’s game today seemed quite the opposite. That doesn’t mean there were not a few challenges. For example, today in downtown Phoenix not only are the Diamondbacks playing at Chase Field but there is also a home show across the street at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. That alone would not cause a problem with traffic but there was one other small event going on. At US Airways center the NCAA was holding an Elite 8 basketball game to determine who would be going to the Final 4. The game featured the UCLA Bruins versus the Xavier Bulldogs.

We had gone down to the game early as Dakota wanted to try and get a baseball during batting practice. We arrived downtown just before 3 PM for a 5:10 PM first pitch. I figured there would be ample parking; I was wrong. There were hundreds of cars milling around looking for parking spots. Lots where last night you could park for $5 were now DSC_0236.jpgoffering the same spots for double the price or more. There was a sea of light blue and gold or black around US Airways Center. There were even people with motor homes attempting to tailgate at a basketball game. It was insane. As quickly as possible we parked the car and escaped to the safety of Chase Field.

Today the Arizona Diamondbacks are hosting the Monterrey Sultanes who are the champions of the Mexican League. This is the first time the Diamondbacks have played the Sultanes in a Spring Training contest. What we heard during much of the pre-game was that the Sultanes were the New York Yankees of the Mexican League. I have no idea what that meant. Does it mean they have Satan playing shortstop? Or could it mean that their owner’s name is George and he just doesn’t know when to keep his nose out of baseball decisions? Whatever the case it was interesting to see a team from a foreign team playing the Diamondbacks. The first thing I noticed was the fact that in the Mexican League a team has their sponsor’s listed on their uniforms. The players looked like walking billboards or NASCAR race cars with patches sewn all around their jersey tops and even a large patch on their right thigh. It seemed extreme compared to the relatively pristine traditional uniforms of Major League Baseball. Fans in the United States have a fit when too much advertising adorns the stadium walls. I cannot even imagine the outcry that would occur if a team suddenly had patches to a fast food restaurant or a beverage manufacture patch across their jersey.

The game itself had a more festive feel. Perhaps it was the singing of two national anthems or maybe it was the mariachi bands playing around the concourse but this definitely felt different from the somewhat somber game the night before. Micah Owings made his final start of the spring and for the first few innings looked very dominating. As his pitch count went up he seemed to run out of gas and allowed the Sultanes back into the game. The outcome was never in question but still there were points of nervousness as the pitching still seems to be behind the hitting as camp breaks. In the end the Diamondbacks were victorious and the fans have gotten a brief taste of what to expect when the Diamondbacks return home for their regular season home opener on April 7. For now we’ll have to settle for watching or listening to the away games.

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