State of the Home Stand Address – August 4 – 10

The Arizona Diamondbacks left Chase Field after Sunday’s final game with the Atlanta Braves. They travelled north to the Rocky Mountains to Denver Colorado. They begin their road trip today after having the day off yesterday. There are three games scheduled with the Colorado Rockies followed by a three game series with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. They will then return home to host the San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins. It looks to be a very busy week for the Diamondbacks as they welcome slugger Adam Dunn to the team when they reach Coors Field today. With the Diamondbacks being out of town it is time once again for the next episode of the “State of the Home Stand Address” where I attempt to give a fan’s perspective on how the games went during the recent home stand. This entry will cover the three game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the four game series with the Atlanta Braves. As is always the case I’ll start with my standard disclaimer that the opinions expressed within this post and this blog are my own and in no way are indicative of how others see the games or the series.

This home stand marked the beginning of a series of games where the Diamondbacks would face teams with losing records over the next 16 games. This was the part of the schedule that you looked at and anticipated that if the Arizona Diamondbacks are to retain their lead on the National League Western Division these were games that they had to win. The Pittsburgh series started off as expected. Dan Haren and Brandon Webb started the first two games respectively. The Diamondbacks bats fresh off the 7-3 road trip continued to be hot and the snakes took the first two games rather easily. The third game of the series saw Randy Johnson going for his fifth consecutive win. He faced rookie Jeff Karstens and ran into trouble as the young Pittsburgh hurler nearly threw a perfect game. That game ended with a loss but the Diamondbacks won the series. The goal for the remainder of the season has to be to try and win each series. If they are capable of doing that they will win the west.

The Braves came to town after losing 4 of their last 6 and everyone expected the Diamondbacks to take advantage of the injuries that Atlanta had with their pitching staff. On paper it looked like an easy series; unfortunately we never seem to play these games on paper. Arizona dropped the first three games of the series before finally salvaging the final game of the home stand on the arm and the bat of Brandon Webb. The Braves series was especially disheartening when second baseman Orlando Hudson went down with a season ending wrist injury. The Diamondbacks are attempting to compensate by trading for Adam Dunn but it is still unclear how Dunn will help with the loss of a second baseman.

The crowds at Chase Field were relatively light especially for the Pirates series. The first game say a crowd of 21,826 welcome the Diamondbacks back into town. This small crowd could be attributed to the fact that it was the first day of school for many school districts in and around Phoenix but still to have the stadium less than half full was quite depressing. The largest crowd for the Pirates series was on Wednesday which was an afternoon contest. I still cannot figure out why the Diamondbacks draw better for a mid-week day game than they do at night. Someday I’ll figure it out. The Braves series was slightly better attendance wise. The two week-night games saw crowds of 27,787 and 27.966 while the weekend games saw attendance jump nearly 10,000 to 36,613 for Saturday and 35,838 on Sunday. Part of the jump in crowds can be attributed to the fact that it was a weekend but I think a bigger reason was that Saturday and Sunday were the two games with free giveaways.

Saturday the Diamondbacks handed out fan-designed T-shirts sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts while Sunday was a special kids giveaway of a back-to-school backpack. Both of these giveaways were well received and the backpacks were especially popular not just with the kids but with adults who spent the game trying to talk their children out of them. Around our house there is still a battle raging over who will be the ultimate owner of the backpack. For those that did not get a backpack, there is an alternative. The stadium team shop in collaboration with Major League Baseball is giving away free messenger style bags when you purchase $125 in team shop merchandise. This offer is good while supplies last. The messenger bags look very good. It’s no Diamondbacks backpack but will do in a pinch. I have already begun dropping hints to my wife that nothing quite says back to school like an authentic Sedona Red jersey and a messenger bag. She of course continually reminds me that I am not going back to school so I really don’t need the messenger bag and I already have all of the jerseys. Hopefully you have better luck than I have had.

The Gila River Casino Free Gas promotion where fans in a lucky section could win portions of $1 million in gas continues to gain traction. For those who may have missed this, the Diamondbacks and Gila River Casino select two sections in the ballpark. If a Diamondbacks player hits a baseball target below the left field or right field porch then everyone in those sections will share $1 million in gas. For the game Sunday our section was selected. The fans really get into the game when there is free gas on the line. I’d love to say we won but to be honest no one ever comes close to those targets so the gas is still safe for now.

Upstairs at the Sandlot the Diamondbacks have moved a small vendor cart selling baseball cards and other merchandise. The vendor is now just across from the desk where kids get their prizes and swipe their kids club cards. From the games I have been to, the vendor is getting a lot of foot traffic. I am not sure he is selling anything but he is busy. Prior to Saturday’s game season ticket holders were let in 30 minutes before the gates opened. Select vendors around the stadium were again offering free samples. Gordon Biersch was handing out samples of their garlic French fries. They were very good and very garlicky. You can rest assured that no vampire would be caught dead sitting by you after eating an order of these. Ribbies offered samples of their hot wings and pulled pork sandwiches. Both of these items were very good and I would gladly recommend them. Of the two I liked the wings better but they were fairly spicy so you should be aware of that before ordering. They are also very messy so make sure you get extra napkins if you order those. The final vendor offering samples was Garcias. They were giving samples of their chicken quesadilla and poco chimichangas. These were by far the best food samples given and are now permanently a part of the food rotation when we go to the ballpark. They are a very good value too with the chimis selling for $5.50 for 5 and the quesadilla being available for $7. These definitely get two thumbs up and are second only to Hungry Hill Sausages in my book.

As always it was great to be back in Chase Field watching a game. The fans are seeming to warm up to the excitement this team is capable of providing. Although the home stand ended with the Diamondbacks having a losing record it was still a lot of fun being at the game. Make plans now for the next home stand. These are games you don’t want to miss.

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