The Weird and Wacky

I’m not much into astrology, I can barely keep track of the planet I am on let alone trying to figure out where all the other planets are at. I’m still just a little freaked out that Pluto has been kicked off the planet island relegated to the status of just a weird freaking rock a long ways away. So you’ll excuse me if I am not completely current on what is going on with the stars and planets. But after the first three games of this home stand I may have to make an exception and check in with the Discovery Channel and see if there is some astronomical event that is occurring. It is the only explanation I can think of as to why I am having such a strange week at the ballpark.

The whole thing started on Monday night when the Diamondbacks began a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are not what you would call a big-draw team meaning that you come to expect a slight decrease in attendance. The opponent coupled with the fact that it was the first day of school for many children around the valley meant that the Diamondbacks drew the equivalent of the attendance a three game series for the Florida Marlins; with an announced 21,826 at the stadium.

It was depressing enough that only 21,826 people chose to come down and watch the game in person but it was which 21,826 people decided to show up. I’m a pretty laid back fan and for the most part I try to keep to myself at the game. Oh sure I stand and cheer and I’ve been known to heckle a few players but overall I try not to invade the space of others who are at the game. If someone wants to start up a conversation I am more than willing but I figure the last thing the other fans need is me getting in their business or trying to be their new best friend. But just because I am not engaged in a conversation with them doesn’t mean I don’t hear them.

I happened to have a guy sit behind me who brought a blind date. I am sure the guy was thinking that a baseball game would be the perfect first date and having seats just 9 rows up from first base would definitely impress the girl. The dude made just a couple of mistakes. First he neglected to mention to the girl where they were actually going on their date so imagine her surprise when she arrived at Chase Field wearing a sparkly dress, make-up and high heels. It was pretty obvious that the guy was already starting the date three runs down. As the game progressed he learned that this was the very first professional baseball game the girl had ever been to. This should have clued him in that maybe this wasn’t exactly the perfect first date but the guy trudged on. He instead decided that he would impress the girl with his baseball knowledge. The problem with that was that he had none. He stumbled trying to explain what I would have thought were basic terms. Fortunately for him she could care less and just let him ramble. The guy further dug himself a hole by not letting a single beer vendor go by without buying something. The girl had a single beer while Joe Super Fan had 6 or 7. With each passing inning he became a little more intoxicated, a little more vocal, and a lot more colorful with his language. By the time the seventh inning stretch arrived he was sauced. He tried to sing Take Me Out To the Ballgame but I have no idea what lyrics he was using. The last inning and a half were a nightmare date for this poor girl. He was trying to hang on her, be impressive, and enjoy the game and he wasn’t successful with any of these. When the final out was recorded they got up to leave and I noticed as they reached the top of the section he turned left and she turned right. I guess the date was over.

After that experience I figured it could only go up from there but I would of course been wrong. For the second game of the series I was playing host to my son-in-law who was down for training. I guess he thought it would be awesome to hang out and bond at the baseball game. My daughter (his wife) was slightly nervous since her husband is not a real baseball fan. As a tune up to this she had taken him to a couple of minor league baseball games to help acquaint him with the nuances of the sport. By nuances I mean she took him to explain what each position was and what the basic rules of the game were. It had to feel like this poor kid was drinking from a firehose. She was peppering him with all the data necessary for him not to embarrass himself. She may as well have been talking a foreign language.

I should have known this was going to be an interesting game when it started with him asking what exactly RBI meant. This is one of those points where you have to take a deep breath and remember that not everyone spends every waking hour following the greatest game on earth. We spent the game talking through everything that was going on the field and how it impacted the outcome of the game. It became amusing to watch him trying to understand. When Brandon Webb threw a sinker inside handcuffing a hitter causing the batter’s bat to break flying out towards second, my son-in-law was appalled that the batter had thrown his bat out into the field of play. Tonight it was definitely the people behind me who were getting to have a laugh at my expense. When we arrived home he was asked how he liked the game. He proudly explained that it had been very educational and fun. My daughter asked him if it was a good game and he nodded affirmatively. He explained that the Diamondbacks had won on a double-play home run. Uh, I think that was a 2-run homer but who’s counting?

Two consecutive strange evenings should have prepared me for the final game of the series but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for today. I arrived at the game early and made my way down to our seats. I was expecting a relatively sparse crowd again especially since it was a day game and the Pirates. Shortly before first pitch came another fan who had tickets in our section. Not just in our section but right next to me. Although there was absolutely no one else on the row and probably would not be for the entire game this guy decided he needed to sit in the seat right next to me. He was dressed in his Pirates jersey and was wearing an eye patch. If that were all, I probably would not even mention it but there’s more. He also had a skull and cross bones Jolly Roger flag. I looked at the flag and the guy. He noticed me checking him out and offered, “I like to cheer for the Pirates. I have this flag I made myself that I like to wave when they are up to bat.” Oh geez, what are the odds that the Pittsburgh Pirates rendition of Rally Sally would pick this game and these seats? This was like my own person prison sentence. About all that was lacking was for Rally Sally herself to sit on the other side of me and they could have a dance off.

I was seriously not in the mood for this and began praying with all the faith that I could muster that somehow there would be a way for me to survive this game without killing the guy with the fake parrot on his shoulder. Just when I was contemplating exactly how much jail time I would be given for breaking that flag pole over his head he turned to me and said how amazed he was to be able to get seats in section 108 this close to the field. Wait did he say section 108? I asked to look at his ticket which he gladly showed me. Sure enough, this guy was in the wrong section. Praise the baseball Gods! I explained to him that he was actually sitting closer to the Pirates bullpen. He thanked me and gathered his stuff to go and find his seat. Somewhere in Section 108 somebody’s day just got really bad.

Overall, it has been a very strange three games and I am hoping that the weirdness leaves town along with the Pirates. I am not sure what I am going to do if this kind of thing becomes normal at Chase Field.

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