The State of the Home Stand Address – April 7-13

Last season I instituted a State of the Home Stand Address where I attempted to give my take on how the season was going both from a team perspective as well as from a Chase Field point of view. I got a lot of comments (mostly email) with suggestions or points to take into consideration so I thought perhaps I would continue this thread of thinking for the 2008 season. As always, these views are my own and in no way represent the thoughts of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bud Selig, Major League Baseball, or any other sane fan for that matter. Your mileage may vary, objects in the rearview may be closer than they appear, and this offer not valid in the states of Texas or Arkansas. There, I think I covered all the standard disclaimers. With that let’s get down to the business at hand, describing the state of the first home stand.

The Diamondbacks opened the season in Cincinnati where they dropped two of three to the Reds. They followed this up sweeping the Colorado Rockies to begin their season 4-2. This set the stage for the home opener at Chase Field with three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers followed up with an off day and finally a three game series with the Colorado Rockies. Dan Haren got the call as the starter for the home opener. This was the first opportunity many Diamondbacks fans had of seeing Haren pitch in person. He looked very good against the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks hitters looked amazing allowing the home team to win their home opener. This makes the Diamondbacks record 5-6 in home openers in the history of the franchise. Tuesday’s game marked the final start for Doug Davis before thyroid cancer surgery. He pitched a good game collecting 7 strike-outs and helped his own cause getting 2 hits and an RBI. He also picked off a man from first making it a complete effort. The Diamondbacks swept the Dodgers and then subsequently took the first two from the Colorado Rockies before dropping the final game yesterday. Everyone was worried about the offense after being outscored last season. At least through the first couple of week that has not been a problem. During this home stand the Diamondbacks outscored their opponents 46-29. They have outdistanced their NL Western Division opponents for the season 66-34 and overall for 2008 the Diamondbacks have scored 77 runs while holding the other team to 45 runs. That probably explains why the Diamondbacks ended this home stand with a 5-1 record and maintained their NL West division lead.

While the team was the lead story and rightfully so, the stadium made just as many headlines. Over the course of the off-season the video board at Chase Field was replaced with a new high definition model measuring 46 high and 163 long. It is one of only 3 high definition video boards in the major leagues and must be seen to be believed. Within a year’s time the Diamondbacks have upgraded the sound system and the video displays making the experience at Chase Field substantially different than when the stadium opened 10 short years ago. The screen was not the only changes this season. The outfield porch seats have gone from day of game to season tickets and have been upgraded with amenities. The pool area has a new sponsor this season and is now known as the Riviera Zone. The upper deck has added several flat screen televisions to allow fans to see the game while on the concourse. There is also an expanded play area for the kids now called the Sandlot. Besides Futures Field, the batting cage, and the jungle gym, there is also what looks like a kiddy corral with artificial turf. Organist Bobby Freeman has been moved from the second level to an open area near the kids’ toys. He sounds cool with the move but I really feel sorry for the guy. That would be enough to get me to start updating my resume. The kids’ area looks great and it doesn’t look like they are finished yet so it will only get better as the season goes along.

There have been a lot of changes in the area of dining options at Chase Field. Gordon Biersch and Fat Burger have been added to the choices. These two replace what used to be McDonalds which is no longer a concessionaire much to the chagrin of my son. The other devastating loss (from my family’s perspective) was the removal of Blimpie as a vendor. There is nothing in this location as of now leading me to believe that something still may be added at some point. My daughter Whitney was extremely stressed about Blimpie. This was the only place she had ever eaten at Chase Field so she is beside herself wondering what she will eat at the ballpark. Hot dogs and popcorn have decreased in prices compared to last year making them a much better value if you go to a lot of games. The taste doesn’t compare to my personal favorite Hungry Hill sausage but making the ballpark concessions a better value is always appreciated. Great news, the pricing of chicken tenders has been fixed at Ribbies. Last season all year the price was listed incorrectly on the price board. This has been fixed so chicken tenders are consistently priced across all concessions. Ribbies left the brisket sandwich off their menu again this year. I was hoping it would make a return but alas it didn’t. The BBQ chicken is in my opinion the best thing left there. I’ve been a big fan of their coleslaw but the time we ate there this home stand it was not very good. I’m not sure if they changed the recipe or if we just got a bad batch. I hesitate going back to try it again (it was that bad) but I may have to take one for the team just so I can be sure it wasn’t a batch issue. I did try the Gordon Biersch offerings. That was an experience. I ordered an Arizona burger which is a hamburger with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and BBQ sauce. Unfortunately they ran out of bacon (this was 30 minutes before first pitch). There seemed to be a lot of chaos around that concession stand as the cashiers and the cooks were yelling obscenities at each other. Within 5 minutes what was a large crowd waiting to order had scattered to other vendors. Hopefully this was an isolated incident and not something we will come to expect at Chase Field. The overall concessions are well run and manned by pleasant people. The concessions have taken a step backwards though. They have once again chosen not to offer spicy mustard (a major issue for me). I’ve heard rumors that spicy mustard may be available at the Diamond Level but since I don’t have access to that level I can verify that. I also cannot comment on the food offerings at that level as I have not tried them.

So it’s great to have baseball back and have the season started. I can hardly wait for the San Diego Padres to arrive for the next home stand. Until then I’ll be watching the Diamondbacks on television (or as is the case tonight on MLB.TV since something called basketball has taken over Fox Sports Arizona for the evening). I’ll see you back at the ballpark on April 18. As always I’ll be sitting in Section 112 Row 8 Seat 7



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