As the alarm clock went off I rolled over noting that the time had changed exactly one minute since the last time that I looked at it and two minutes since I looked at it the time before last. In reality I hadn’t slept more than 20 minutes in the last three nights.
Ever since the nightmare where I dreamt I had missed my appointment for Select-A-Seat, I have found sleep the farthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would survive until two o’clock today when I had my appointment to choose my seat for the 2010 Diamondbacks season. For some reason, the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities seemed quite appropriate.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
– Charles Dickens
After showering and dressing in my luckiest Diamondbacks shirt that was clean, I would spend the day going through the motions constantly watching the clock willing the hands to move faster.
Mid-morning I received a call from my friend Mitch Jarvis. He had a Select-A-Seat appointment at nine and he wanted to call and let me know he was on his way. Mitch was hoping to upgrade from his current upper deck location to somewhere above the visitor’s bullpen. I was hoping he would act as a re-con party sending me information of what seats were available.
I kept him on the phone during the entire time he was at the ballpark having him list off what seats were available and what the sightlines looked like. Thankfully Mitch is easy going and loved doing it.
After his appointment we talked. He said he met my ticket representative Mandi Howard and happened to mention to her about my lack of sleep over the past few days. Great, as if my ticket representative didn’t already think I was insane now she knows I suffer from a sleep disorder.
When the clock finally reached one o’clock, I couldn’t wait any longer. I grabbed my car keys, Seat Cushion 3.0 (a story for another day), my sunglasses, and my camera. As I drove to the ballpark I pondered whether I really could drive this route with my eyes closed. My wife Trina insisted that I not try that at least not while she was in the car.
We arrived at Chase Field and pulled into the Arizona Diamondbacks parking garage. It felt like I had just arrived home after a long trip. I eased my car into a parking space and walked to the stadium saying a little prayer along the way and offering to sacrifice a Manny Ramirez bobble head if the Baseball Gods would let me successfully relocate my seats.
As I got to the gates there was a security guard waiting. He was welcoming people to Chase Field and checking any purses or bags. No one was carrying anything, well no one but me. I stopped and smiled greeting him.
He looked at me then looked down at my seat cushion then back at me and seemed to have a confused look on his face. I smiled and simply stated, “it’s a seat cushion” to which he replied, “Sir, you do know that you are just selecting a seat, there is no game today”.
Well duh, I knew there was no game, my ticket book was empty there couldn’t possibly be a game today. Besides, I didn’t have my scorebook. Geez, sometimes I wonder. He looked through my seat cushion then let us into the stadium.
The other season ticket holders in my Select-A-Seat group were milling around the concourse waiting for the clock to strike two. We were welcomed by the Diamondbacks Season Ticket services staff and went to the registration desk to check in.
After giving them my name they crossed my name off a list and handed me a sticker. The sticker had my name, my account number, my current seat location, and most importantly my priority number.
After registration my wife Trina and I sat down and waited for the festivities to begin. We were given a brief introduction and instructions of how the Select-A-Seat event would work. After the presentation we would be turned out into the stadium.
Any available seats had been marked with a piece of paper. We had 20 minutes to look around and try out different seats. At the end of that time there would be an announcement over the public address system. You were then to select the seats you wanted.
Once selected, there would be another announcement where we would be able to remove the papers from the new seat locations and take them to guest services to have our accounts updated.
In the case where two people wanted the same set of seats, preference would be given to the season ticket holder with the lower priority number. As our host said that I noticed everyone look down at their sticker then glance left and right to see what the people sitting next to them had for a priority number.
We were released as a group to head towards the seats and make our selections. There were a couple of rabbits who jumped up and rushed down the stairs like kids at an Easter egg hunt. I was taking a more deliberate approach. I went down to the bottom of the section and surveyed the area to see what options I had.
As I looked up from the bottom of Section 130 I was shocked to see how many seats were actually available. Compared to years past there seemed to be a lot more seats available in the areas I was interested in.
That is not to say that there are a lot of open seats available just that there were more available this year than I remembered last season. Last year when I attended this event there was just two seats available in the lower rows of Section 132 and those were taken from me by a grandmother who attended ten games a year. No, I’m not bitter. Ok, maybe a little bit.
This year I noticed that there were eight seats available in the first ten rows of Section 132. My heart began to race. Would this be the year that I was actually successful in getting the seats I wanted?
I reached into my seat cushion and removed the spreadsheet I had created with the top 35 seat choices I had made for the 2010 season. I looked though the top of the list and notices that all eight available seats were within the first five choices I had identified. I was almost giddy as I walked to Section 132.
I hadn’t really noticed what row I had walked down when I stopped at the first two seats that were available. Seats nine and ten, well that’s a good sign. I wanted a seat in the middle of the row so people would not crawl over me. Section 132, that was the section I was interested in as it was exactly opposite from Section 112 where I was currently sitting. I looked at the row number and my knees buckled; it was Row nine.
I lifted the spreadsheet paper and my hands were shaking so badly that I could barely read the words. There under my first choice written in Sedona Red ink was Section 132 Row 9 Seats 9-10. I cannot be positive but I swear that I heard angels sing and a shaft of heavenly light fell upon those seats.
I dropped to one knee and thanked God and promised to fulfill my end of the bargain and sacrifice a Manny Ramirez bobble head. Within the first five minutes I had found nirvana and felt as though everything was right with the world.
I quickly came to my senses though when I reminded myself of what happened last year. I glanced left and right trying to spot any elderly grandmothers with pictures of her grand-kids who would swoop down and steal my dream.
Luckily, I had Trina with me. She was working the people who wandered into our area and checking everyone’s priority number. For a brief moment I wished I could somehow erase the five from the front of my priority number and have it say 122 but that wasn’t going to happen.
Trina suggested that I go look at other seats to have a backup plan just in case. There were seats available lower in row six and others in row eight but I wanted the two in row nine. After all the years where I had been stalked by the number nine no one could take this away; it just couldn’t happen.
As time was running out, another couple came over and were interested in the seats in row nine. Trina checked their priority number and found that my number was 500 less than theirs. It was looking more and more like these seats would be mine.
As we were talking, Cara Davison Jamie Gostyla a Diamondbacks season ticket representative came over. Trina was explaining why the number nine was important and I interjected the fact that the Diamondbacks had never made the playoffs when I sat on the third first-base side.
Cara’s Jamie’s face lit up and she said, “I know who you are! You’re the guy from the Internet who’s friend is Mitch!” Ok, that was a little weird then she said, “You’re ticket rep is Mandi, she was talking about you!” Oh great this is going to go back to me being some kind of sleep deprived freak I just know it.
I admitted that I was that guy. Cara Jamie then went on to help the other people find other seats in Section 132 away from row nine seats nine and ten. This was awesome! Everything was coming together perfectly.
I held in my hand the two pieces of paper with the new seat locations. Before going to Guest Relations, I made a trek over to Section 112 Row 8 Seats 7-8. I stood there in a moment of silence and reminisced about all of the games I had watched from this location over the past two seasons.
I could still see the people who sat around me and could see Katie at the top of the section checking tickets and welcoming the fans. I remembered Mandi and how I had only been assigned to her recently and now would have a new season ticket representative to joke with and freak out to. It was sort of sad to think that I would not be coming back to this section.
But as I looked down in my hand I realized I was holding my holy grail of ticket locations. I would be just beyond the Arizona Diamondbacks dugout. I would be cheering on the home team side of the field. The bullpen pitchers would walk in front of us for 83 games next season.
I walked up to Guest Relations and handed over the two pieces of paper somehow wishing I could take them home and frame them to remind myself of where I would be just 158 days from now. The lady took my papers and my sticker and handed me my change of address form noting where my new seats were located.
I wanted to break down and cry and bless this lady’s children and her grand children. I wanted to give her a puppy or something. Instead I just thanked her again and again and again until Trina apologized and explained that I was in need of some sort of mental therapy and perhaps lots of medication.
As I walked out of Guest Relations I met Mandi Howard on the concourse. We talked and I thanked her a million times for everything that she has done for me. She also retrieved an envelope for me from Dustin Payne who had left me a Chris Young autographed baseball that I had earned through the D-Backs Rewards Zone program.
This was turning out to be one of the best days of my life. Mandi then stated that she would remain my Season Ticket Representative, an unexpected surprise. I am not sure whether to feel grateful to her or sorry for her. Obviously she has done something wrong to be punished like that.
As I walked out of the stadium I could hardly wait for Spring Training to begin. The Select-A-Seat event was great. The Diamondbacks had people stationed all over the stadium there to answer questions and help with seat selection. I am consistently amazed at the level of customer service I receive from the Diamondbacks.
Before every game the Chase Field announcer proclaims the Diamondbacks to be the most fan-friendly team in sports. While you may think that is just a marketing slogan I can attest that it is indeed accurate. Now if I can just get through the next 157 days 20 hours 30 minutes until first pitch.