The State of the Home Stand Address – April 28 – May 8

Welcome to the latest edition of my State of the Home Stand where I look back over the just concluded home series to provide my feedback of how things went. I try to include items on the field as well as around the stadium. If possible I try to identify anything new that may be around Chase Field and give fans some tips of things to look for during their next visit to the stadium. So without further adieu let’s look back at the home stand that began April 28 and lasted through May 8. This home stand is the longest stretch of home games the Diamondbacks have all season so fans had a lot of baseball in town.

The home stand started with three games against the Houston Astros. This three game series marked the return of Jose Valverde who was traded during the off-season. It was obvious that fans missed the Big Potato as he got a solid round of applause during warm-ups and when entering the game. The Diamondbacks took two games from the Astros winning yet another series. The one game they lost, they should have won but unfortunately Edgar Gonzalez dug a hole from which the Diamondbacks could not escape. There was a bright spot to this though as 2006 first round draft pick Max Scherzer came in relieving Gonzalez and pitched 4.1 innings of perfect baseball striking out 7 batters in the process. Even before the game ended fans were clamoring for Scherzer to move into the starting rotation replacing the struggling Edgar Gonzalez. Within 24 hours of the completion of the game the Diamondbacks front office agreed with the fans assessment and Scherzer moved from the bullpen to become a starter. After taking 2 of 3 from the Astros, their record for April was 19-8 which earned them the best record in baseball.

The Diamondbacks had a day off before hosting the New York Mets for a three-game weekend series. Over the last 4 years the Mets have had their way with the Diamondbacks at Chase Field having won 13 of 14 contests. Brandon Webb saw to it that the domination ceased at least for a night when the Diamondbacks beat the Mets in the second game 10-4. Webb was masterful and stymied New York hitters all night. The final game of the series was the one everyone was talking about. It featured the two biggest pitching acquisitions from the off season as Dan Haren faced Johan Santana. The game was everything it was billed to be with a pitcher’s duel through 6. The Diamondbacks would score to tie the game but the bullpen would falter allowing 3 runs in the ninth to lose the game and the series. This was the first series the Diamondbacks lost since the opening three game set in Cincinnati. Even before the pain of the Mets loss healed the Philadelphia Phillies came to town for a 4 game series. Game 1 of the series saw rookie Max Scherzer make his first major league start. Unfortunately he could not equal his earlier success and lost the game by the score of 11-4. The series with the Phillies went back and forth with each team winning 2 for a split. The Diamondbacks record for this home stand was 5-5 but could very easily have been 7-3 had things worked as planned and bullpen been able to maintain the lead.

Around Chase Field there were also a few changes from the previous home stand. The Diamondbacks line-up board was changed and has the D-Backs logo at the bottom where advertising had once been. The press level also saw new signage showing Fox Sports Network below the booth. From a concessions perspective the Diamondbacks have once again eliminated spicy mustard from their condiment selection. This has been an on-again/off-again saga dating back last year. In 2006 the condiment stations all had yellow mustard and spicy mustard. In 2007 spicy mustard was removed but towards the end of the season spicy mustard was available in individual packages from the various vendors. Now in 2008 the packets have been eliminated leaving the fans with limited choices from a condiment perspective. Fatburger continues to garner a lot of interest and seems to be constantly busy. I still do not recommend it though as it is a pain to get your food and not miss any action. They require you to order your food then they corral you off like cattle as you wait for your food. That might work in a retail environment but at a ballgame I just want my food without missing a couple of innings waiting for it to be cooked. It might be a good burger but it’s not worth the wait. I received an email from a fan in the Diamond level who wanted me to make sure and mention that Hungry Hill is not available on the second level. This is a travesty as they are the best food in the ballpark. So if you have tickets on the Diamond level I suggest stopping at Hungry Hill before making your way to your seats. A new favorite food at the ballpark is Garcias. They have two menu items that are awesome. The Poco Chimis and the chicken quesadilla are both highly recommended. Since a guy cannot live on Italian sausage alone, these two Mexican dishes are great alternatives and a very good value.

The Diamondbacks are now out of town for a brief three-game series followed by a deserved off-day. The next home stand begins Tuesday when the Colorado Rockies without the “great Troy Tulowitzki” come to town.

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