Bi-Cycle

I have long proposed the idea that going to a baseball game in person is much better than watching it from the comfort of your living room. Sure it is nice not having to worry about parking and whether the 300 pound woman has the seat located right next to yours but it is just not the same. There is something about going through the turnstiles and hearing the vendors hawking their wares that makes everything seem right. You walk through the concourse and see fellow Diamondbacks fans and you lament the fact that the opposing team’s fans are in attendance and will be boisterous when their team gets ahead. The smells from the concessionaires drift through the air and mix with the smell of fresh cut outfield grass. No there is nothing quite like going to a baseball game, especially a day game on a holiday. After all, you never know when you might just witness perfection.


Each time I pass my ticket through the turnstile scanner I wonder if this is going to be the day that I see something historic. It’s funny, I go through this thought process before every game and have done some for the past eleven seasons. You would think that after that much time and that many games that this would become old hat and I would fall into a ritual of complacency.

Today marked game number 69 of the 2008 regular season meaning I had 12 more games before this year would be over. In total it was game number 879 in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks. That seems like an eternity to some while for others it seems like only yesterday. I have such fond memories from my time as a Diamondbacks fan. I have had an opportunity to witness some incredible feats during that time period.

I was there when Bank One Ballpark opened for the inaugural season. I watched as they worked hard to keep the number of losses to fewer than 100. I watched as the owners began to build a contender bringing in such noteworthy players as Randy Johnson, Matt Williams, Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez, and Steve Finley. I suffered through a night when the Diamondbacks were no-hit at the hands of a rookie from St. Louis. I watched as Randy Johnson struck out 20 batters but did not get the win. I saw slugger Mark McGwire hit into a triple play to end an inning before it even began. I watched the Diamondbacks become the fastest team ever to make the play-offs and ultimately become the fastest franchise to win a World Series title. I saw a season implode and agonized as the team lost 111 games. I watched ownership change and was there through five manager changes including the brief tenure of Wally Backman who lasted just a few short days. I saw the team change its logo and its colors becoming like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. And I watched as the team I loved returned to the play-offs and make it to within 4 games of reaching the World Series for the second time. You would think then that I had seen just about everything there was to see but not quite.

Today the Diamondbacks played host to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a three game series. Randy Johnson was on the mound and after the previous 2 games against the Dodgers whether the two Diamondbacks aces suffered losses everyone was hoping that Randy would right the ship and return the Diamondbacks to their winning ways. Things started out well enough with Johnson holding the Cardinals at bay in the first inning. The wheels started to fall off in the second inning as Randy gave up 2 home runs to give the Cardinals a lead. He followed that up in the third inning giving up another 2 home runs for a 5-2 lead. Johnson loaded the bases in the fourth inning and things looked to be going downhill in a hurry. Jailen Peguero who had been called up today shut the Cardinals down getting out of the inning scoreless. The bullpen would allow just 1 run in the last 5 innings to keep the game from getting out of hand.

On the Diamondbacks side the offense was sputtering a little bit but not everyone was struggling. Shortstop Stephen Drew was again the leadoff man for the Diamondbacks. In his first at-bat he hit a single to left field but was erased on a double play. In the third inning Drew again came to the plate and laced a ball to the centerfield wall for a triple. He would score on a sacrifice fly to make the game 5-2 in favor of the Cardinals. When Drew came up in the fifth inning I leaned over and mentioned to my daughter Mallorie that Drew only needed a home run and a double to hit for the cycle. It was more of an empty comment than anything. Before I even completed the sentence Stephen Drew launched a ball over the right field fence for a home run leaving him just a double away with two at-bats remaining. Drew came up in the seventh inning and everyone was on the edge of their seats watching and waiting. With a count of 1-0 Stephen hit a ball to deep left field that went over the fielder’s outstretched hands hitting the warning track and bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double.

The crowd erupted like a pent-up volcano. They rose in unison giving Stephen Drew a standing ovation for his accomplishment. Drew became the third Arizona Diamondbacks player to hit for the cycle. The first was Luis Gonzalez in 1999 in Houston. The second was Greg Colbrunn who accomplished this feat in San Diego. This was the first time any player had hit for the cycle at Chase Field. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Drew did not stop there though. He would score the go-ahead run in the seventh inning then follow that up with a double in the eighth inning making his night a 5-5 game with a single, two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He accounted for nearly half of Arizona’s hits and exactly half of their runs.

This is why I go to the games every night; to see the improbably happen where your team comes from behind to win the game thanks to a gutty performance by a young shortstop who happened to catch lightning in a bottle and gave the fans and his teammates something to cheer about. Hitting for the cycle is rare enough but this night it happened twice. While Drew was completing the task in Arizona, Seattle Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre was having a similar night in Arlington Texas where he went 4-5 hitting for the cycle there. It was the first time since September 17, 1920 that this had occurred. It was definitely a magical night for a cycle ride.


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