State of the Home Stand Address – September 18-27

As Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Juan Gutierrez struck out Padres pinch hitter Oscar Salazar, the Diamondbacks congratulated each other for winning the final home game at Chase Field for the 2009 season.

The Diamondbacks finish out the regular season with six games on the road. Beginning on Tuesday Arizona opens up a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants and then finish the season visiting the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

With the Diamondbacks packing their bags for one last time, it is time for the final episode of State of the Home Stand Address for the 2009 season. As is always the case, these views are my own and in no way represent the thoughts of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bud Selig, Major League Baseball, or any other sane fan for that matter. Your mileage may vary, objects in the rearview mirror may be closer than they appear, and this offer is not valid in the states of Texas or Arkansas. I think that covers all of the necessary disclaimers.

This home stand began with a three-game series featuring the Colorado Rockies in their final trip of the season to Chase Field. The series started off well enough with the Diamondbacks taking game one when Arizona got to the Rockies bullpen in the late innings. Unfortunately for Arizona this was the only game of the series they would win dropping the next two games to Colorado.

The San Francisco Giants then came to Chase Field for their final trip of the season. Arizona continued to struggle winning only the middle game of this three game series. At the time the Rockies were the leader for the National League wild card while San Francisco was right behind them.

After watching these six games it was clear that the Rockies were the better of the two teams and if I were a betting man I would put my money on the Rockies finishing in front of the Giants in the standings. I’m still not convinced that Atlanta won’t end up the wild card team from the NL.

The final home series of the year saw the hot San Diego Padres come to town. San Diego has been on a mini tear having won every series this month with the exception of the series against the Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

The Padres took the first game of the series but the Diamondbacks battled back in the final two games to win the series. Augie Ojeda and Chad Tracy were two of the more unlikely heroes during those games and it was good to see the team end the home stand with a couple of wins.

During this home stand the Diamondbacks had an on-field parade for members of the APS Renewables Kids Club who reached 3,000 points in the year. There appeared to be more kids this year than in seasons past which bodes well for 2010. To get 3,000 points a child has to attend about 30 games (not counting bonus points) so that is about a third of the games played at home each season.

The parade was well conceived and flawlessly carried out. The members of the game staff were friendly and made each child feel special for their accomplishment.

The final series marked Fandemonium with the Diamondbacks offering several great prizes. The final two games always seem to draw the best crowds and this year was no exception. During yesterday’s game they announced that the season total for Chase Field was 2,128,907 which is roughly 500K less than last season.

Part of the drop can be attributed to the weak economy and part can be the result of a poor season on the field. Even with a struggling economy there are signs of a rebound. Already the Diamondbacks have had approximately 67 percent of their season ticket holders renew their tickets for 2010. The team is hoping for a 75-80 percent renewal so they have some work to do to reach that level.

Going into the final home stand it always comes down to what ballpark foods am I most going to miss during the off-season. At the top of this list is the Hungry Hill Italian Sausage and the Polish Sausage. Both of these are great. The only complaint I have with them is that they still do not have packets of spicy mustard at their stands. You can get spicy mustard at most of the Levy concessions so it is available just not at Hungry Hill.

According to my family the next item on the most missed food list is the Poco Chimis at Garcias. These have become a family favorite followed by the homemade tamales. The tamales may have ranked higher but they are on the other side of the stadium and there is usually a line to get them making the kids look elsewhere for food.

A pleasant surprise was the Mets Reuben Sandwich at Taste of the Majors. This is served on a marble rye bread and is very good. The only problem is that Taste of the Majors is notorious for being the slowest concession stand in the ballpark so allow yourself plenty of time before the game otherwise you’ll be standing there waiting while the game starts without you.

At the conclusion of the final game the Diamondbacks allowed everyone to run the bases rather than just the kids 12 and younger. This was very popular with the lines stretching nearly to the upper deck. After running the bases, season ticket holders were allowed out on the field to have pictures taken with coaches and players. There were also inflatable toys and areas where kids could hit wiffle balls.

I applaud the Diamondbacks for offering this experience to their season ticket holders. Unfortunately you had to RSVP earlier in the week to get a wrist band and not all season ticket holders were notified (including me). There appears to be a hole in the communications. I met several season ticket holders who were frustrated that they were not contacted about this and even though they had their season ticket account numbers were not allowed to pick up a wrist band. This inconsistency is not normal for the Diamondbacks so hopefully they learn from this to make events like this run more smoothly in the future.

Kudos goes to head groundskeeper Grant Trenbeath and his staff. This was not an easy season with a lot of early season games being played at Chase Field. For the most part the grass held up but towards the end it was clearly a struggle to keep it green. Even on its worst day the playing surface at Chase Field is one of the tops in Major League Baseball and that can all be attributed to the work that Grant and his team put in every day.

The season is now over at least from the perspective of games at Chase Field. Over the course of the next few weeks I plan to write several articles of my thoughts on what went right for the Diamondbacks and the challenges they have going forward both on the field and some suggestions of changes I would love to see at Chase Field.

Until then mark your calendars for April 5, 2010 when the Arizona Diamondbacks open at home against the San Diego Padres in a 2:40 PM afternoon start. I’ve already begun thinking of excuses of why I won’t be at work that day.


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