Baxter’s Birthday Party

It’s interesting how different you view age as you get older. I remember as a kid I always tried to fudge a little making people think I was a little older than I really was. Most of this revolved around the fact that kids are never included in the cool stuff. You are always told that you will understand when you get a little older. Society puts up a barrier to the young. You have to be a certain age before you can play Little League, you can’t gain entrance to certain movies until you are at least a certain age, and don’t even try to gamble or purchase alcohol without proof that you have met a minimum age. But as we get older the trend begins to reverse. Trina is a prime example. She has been 28 years old for like 10 years or something. [Please note this is an exaggeration and in no way indicative of Trina’s real age. She doesn’t look a day over 22 in the right light and I would never suggest that she ever fibs on her real age. I have no idea how old she is nor will I ever admit to questioning the accuracy of the number she provides.] Not only does the passage of time somehow get lost as we age, so do our birthdays. I don’t know how many times I have been told that after a certain age birthdays are no longer celebrated. I always thought this was the domain of the female of the species but I learned otherwise today at the ballpark.

As I entered Chase Field I was immediately reminded of two things. First I am too old to go to baseball games on Sunday and second, today was D. Baxter the Bobcat’s birthday. For those of you who are unaware, D. Baxter is the Arizona Diamondbacks lovable mascot. Lovable is of course a relative term. Whenever I meet someone new at the ballpark one of the first questions they ask me is how the Arizona Diamondbacks came to have a cat as their mascot. I’ve previously written about the birth of a mascot so I will leave it to you to refer to that entry for more details.

My first assessment of being too old for Sunday games comes as a result of the Diamondbacks policy of making Sunday kids day at the ballpark. All of the giveaways are oriented towards kids. There is also the “No Chew Crew” which rewards kids for staying tobacco free by giving them free tickets to select Sunday games during the season. Prior to the game in the upper deck Sandlot area they have a stage set up where they gather the kids to teach them the dangers of using tobacco products. The discussion ends with a visit from one of the Arizona Diamondbacks players who answer questions from the kids. I find it fascinating what questions these kids come up with and on more than one occasion the Diamondbacks players have come away stumped by one of the kids in the audience. I say I am too old for several reasons. No matter how hard I try there is just no way I am ever able to talk one of the attendants at the gates out of one of the giveaway items. Today’s handout was a Baxter Bobble Head Toothbrush Holder. It was one of the coolest things that the Diamondbacks have given out this season but it was limited to the first 5,000 kids. I tried letting Trina dress me, walking on my knees through the turnstiles, and talking with a pre-puberty voice. None of that got me anywhere near a Baxter Bobble Head Toothbrush Holder. All it did get me was a visit from a fairly stern looking security guard. When we went to the Sandlot for the “No Chew Crew” discussion it didn’t matter how high I stretched out my arm for a question, Stephen Drew just flat out refused to call on me. As a result we may never know if he believes there is any connection between the use of tobacco and the ability to go the other direction with an outside slider from a right-hander. Nor will we ever know whether he thinks tobacco is the cause of the aberrant behavior of Rally Sally.

The second realization today was that it was D. Baxter’s birthday. This was made abundantly clear. The Baxter Bobble Head Toothbrush Holder had him holding a birthday cake (I still say it looks like a plate of Jell-o but since I don’t have a Baxter Bobble Head Toothbrush Holder of my own I may never know for sure. The Rally Backs welcomed everyone to the stadium as is usually the case but to the children they gave additional information that there would be a birthday party for Baxter in the Sandlot. Again what is with the age discrimination? So while the kids were allowed to celebrate with Baxter and were given Diamondbacks cupcakes, the adults were left out of the festivities. Like any birthday boy, Baxter had a few friends come over to help him to celebrate. There was Junction Jack from the Houston Astros, Swinging Friar from the San Diego Padres (who incidentally needs a new name, no one wants their kids to hang out with a guy not wearing pants with someone named Swinging Daddy), Stomper from the Oakland Athletics, Slugger from the Kansas City Royals, and Billy the Marlin from Florida. There were some local mascots that made the trip to Chase Field too. There was Scorch the Phoenix Mercury mascot, Howler the Phoenix Coyotes mascot, Big Red the Arizona Cardinals mascot, Rocky the Phoenix Roadrunners mascot and the Suns Gorilla. Last season the Gorilla skipped Baxter’s party leading speculation that Baxter and the Gorilla were the same. Maybe this will put that rumor to rest once and for all. For those who don’t know, bobcats don’t look anything like gorillas.

The thing that I found most strange about this whole thing was not how many otherwise well-adjusted adults would dress up in furry costumes but that Baxter didn’t seem to care that his birthday party was being held over 3 weeks too soon. Baxter was born on June 23 so why have his birthday party so far in advance? It was weird to say the least. I had never seen many of these mascots before so it was interesting to see how different they each were. The most disturbing of all these was Scorch from the Phoenix Mercury. The first thing I noticed was that Scorch is clearly the least coordinated mascot I have ever seen. During introductions Scorch fell on his face. He again fell flat during his first on-field appearance. Finally Scorch was the only mascot to fall as they made their way into the stands to meet the fans. Maybe that is part of Scorch’s personality. I’ve never been to a Phoenix Mercury game so I can’t answer that. But the dude is seriously gravity challenged. Billy the Marlin would be the mascot I would most want to hang out with (of those in attendance, overall I would want to hang with the Philly Phanatic or the old San Diego Chicken).

Everyone seemed to have fun at Baxter’s birthday party except maybe the Washington Nationals who for the second day in a row decided to leave their bats in the clubhouse. It was nice of them to give Baxter and the Diamondbacks two consecutive wins and shutouts. You couldn’t ask for a better birthday present regardless of when your birthday is or how old you are.

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