State of the Home Stand Address – May 8 – May 13

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a six-game home stand; one filled with changes and new beginnings but unfortunately with the same tired results. After a rare off-day yesterday, the only off day the team has in the month of May, the Diamondbacks are off to a ten-game road trip that will carry them from the not so friendly confines to Chase Field to Atlanta Georgia for a three game series against the Atlanta Braves. After the weekend series concludes Arizona will fly to Miami to take on the Florida Marlins for four games. The Diamondbacks always have problems with the Marlins so this series could be just what the doctor ordered if they can somehow come away with a series win in south Florida. At the conclusion of the Marlins series the Diamondbacks will travel cross country to Oakland California for their first Interleague series of 2009 against the Oakland Athletics. With a suitcase full of frequent flier miles and hopefully a few wins the team will return to Arizona on May 25 to open a series with the San Diego Padres. So with the Diamondbacks now on the road it is time once again for another installment of State of the Home Stand Address where I will recount my views of the last home stand at Chase Field. As a reminder, the viewpoints and opinions expressed here are my own and in no way are they indicative of how others might view the team or Chase Field. This entry covers the three game series against the Washington Nationals and the three game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

The home stand got off to an ominous start. When the team arrived in Phoenix from their trip to San Diego; General Manager Josh Byrnes met with manager Bob Melvin and fired him along with hitting coach Rick Schu. In a display of great loyalty pitching coach Bryan Price tendered his resignation when Melvin was let go. Just hours before the first game of the home stand the Diamondbacks held a press conference to introduce former director of player development AJ Hinch as their new manager. Hinch who has no previous coaching experience at any level was signed to a contract through 2012 making this a permanent appointment or as permanent as can be in the world of baseball. Also named were Jack Howell as hitting coach and Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as pitching coach filling those vacancies.

The changes to the coaching staff did little to change the results on the field. The Arizona Diamondbacks dropped the first two games of the Washington series to the Nationals who came into the games having the worst record in the National League. Arizona was able to avoid the sweep by winning a sloppily played game on Mother’s Day in front of one of the smaller crowds of the season at Chase Field.

With his first win as Diamondbacks manager, AJ Hinch was hoping to build on that success but with a hot Cincinnati Reds team coming to town the bats again went silent with the Diamondbacks being swept in all three games by their National League Central Division opponent. The key game in the Cincinnati series was the final game where the Arizona Diamondbacks brought up starting pitcher Bryan Augenstein and outfielder Gerardo Parra both of whom would make their major league debut. Augenstein pitched well the first time through the order but Reds hitters made the necessary adjustments and got to him the second time for 5 runs which was more than enough considering the meltdown of the Diamondbacks bullpen that then gave up an additional 5 runs to the Reds. Parra had an auspicious beginning to his major league career. Getting the start in centerfield for the slumping Chris Young, Gerardo Parra took Reds ace Johnny Cueto deep for a home run in his first at-bat. Parra became only the second Diamondbacks player ever to hit a home run in his first at-bat. The first was Alex Cabrera in 2000.

The offense which has been lackluster for nearly a year again showed its inconsistency. The Diamondbacks could not put together a series of hits throughout most of the six-game home stand. With the exception of the one win the Diamondbacks hitters looked completely lost and over matched. Arizona right fielder Justin Upton continued his hot streak which finally saw his 18-game hitting streak come to an end in the final game of the series. Outfielder Eric Byrnes showed signs of breaking out of his season long slump having several good plate appearances. They were overshadowed by questionable base running decisions and lacksidasical play in the field.

The lack of hustle by the players and the failure to score is beginning to take its toll on the Diamondbacks fan base. The attendance figures for these six games saw a figure trending downwards. Granted the Nationals and the Reds are not typically good teams to draw fans but when the Diamondbacks are playing so poorly it doesn’t help matters at all. What fans are attending the games are showing very little patience for misqueues or lack of success. The fans are beginning to voice their displeasure to anyone and everyone. There were more boos directed to the home team than I have seen since the debacle of the 2004 season.

Around the ballpark the Diamondbacks are continuing to do what they can to make the game enjoyable to the fans. During this home stand the Diamondbacks installed a series of flat screen televisions in the entrance to the team shop on the main concourse just inside the entrance. This is indeed an attention getter and does look much better than the small table of clearance merchandise that was there before. It’s hard for me to comprehend where else the Diamondbacks could possible add another video screen but every time I say that a new one appears somewhere.

The Diamondbacks are once again announcing staff employee of the month awards with employees being recognized in an on-field ceremony with a representative of each of the departments. This is an awesome program and one I wholeheartedly endorse. The staff at Chase Field is top notch and they deserve the recognition they get. My only wish was that the Diamondbacks would let the fans know what the criteria is for these rewards and how we can nominate employees for recognition. There are several individuals that I would love to see get the accolades they deserve.

My quest for hot and spicy mustard continues. I have found that only certain vendors have the mustard available and then it is on a need to ask basis. Unfortunately the Hungry Hill carts do not have the packets although they claim they have asked for it; it is still unavailable. I’ve found that if you want spicy mustard you should try Gordon Biersh and ask for a packet and they will retrieve one for you that you can use on food bought elsewhere. I feel a little guilty doing that but until we get mustard equality around the ballpark it’s the best I can suggest.

During this home stand I had an opportunity to sit in the Batter’s Box section behind the plate. This is the first time I have sat there and I can saw without a shadow of a doubt that it is an experience you should try at least once. The sight lines and angles are unlike anything else in Chase Field and everyone should see one game from that vantage point. Being able to sit at ground level directly behind the catcher brought new clarity to the game and allowed my son to see aspects of the game rarely afforded to most fans. Kudos to the Diamondbacks for offering these seats to their season ticket holders that is an awesome program and is yet another example of why the Diamondbacks are the most fan-friendly franchise in Major League Baseball.

1 Comment

  1. Jeff, you are amazing. I have read your blog and I love it – it is great to hear from another Diamondback fan. I too am a diehard Diamondbacks fan and I love the things you say. I have been frustrated deeply by the struggles of the Diamondbacks. Yesterday’s game was AMAZING for a change. I personally liked Melvin and in an earlier post it seemed like you considered him to be a great coach as well. I will definitely check out more from your blog.

    Feel free to stop on by, my blog is Jot by Jot. I write a good amount of posts on the Diamondbacks including my most recent on their victory.

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