The Hardest Week of the Year

After the end of the regular season, most baseball fans will put away their team allegiance and root for a play-off team. With each subsequent round of the play-offs teams are eliminated and the fans narrow their focus until ultimately they are left rooting for the World Series regardless of who is playing in it.

Once the final out is recorded, fans will again flock to their favorite teams as we enter the off-season. For most of the country the fall and early winter is spent huddled somewhere warm longing for baseball season to begin again.

When New Year’s Day comes it not only signifies the beginning of a new year but it also acts as an alarm clock for baseball fans telling them they are in the final stretches of the off-season. Within a few short weeks pitchers and catchers will report and Spring Training will begin.

The first week of January is normally filled with plenty of activities as Major League Baseball announces the inductees of the newest class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Shortly thereafter there is a final push to sign free agents before baseball begins anew.

With all of this activity you would think I would be extremely excited. After all, there are only 39 more days before the Arizona Diamondbacks arrive at Tucson Electric Park to begin Spring Training. Instead I find myself struggling to get through this week.

I have had this problem every year for the past five years. It is not that I am not excited for baseball to begin again; I am overjoyed that baseball is just over a month away. No my melancholy attitude has everything to do with the realization that another year has passed and I am once again not in Tucson for the Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Camp.

Each January the Arizona Diamondbacks hold a Fantasy Camp at Tucson Electric Park where fans have an opportunity to wear an authentic Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball uniform and rub shoulders with some of the team’s legendary stars.

Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Camp is at the zenith of my bucket list. I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than wearing the uniform of my favorite team and playing the game that I love so much.

In the past year I was able to experience numbers two and three from my bucket list thanks to the generosity of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I cannot begin to explain the thrill I had doing each of these activities so to accomplish number one on the list would be the ultimate experience.

Each year I begin hinting of my desire to attend fantasy camp. I will leave fliers on my wife’s pillow, send text messages to each of my kids, and forward Diamondbacks writer Steve Gilbert’s daily diary from fantasy camp in hopes that my family will get the hint.

Unfortunately my subtleness is working too well. When it comes times for fantasy camp I find myself at home sighing at the front window while the other Diamondbacks fans head down to Tucson.

For a week I’ll mope around the house with my best “woe is me attitude”. My wife Trina will utter the same words she does every year, “Well you couldn’t have gone to fantasy camp anyways, you have . Maybe you can go next year.”

Those words sting more than pouring salt on an open wound. In that moment I have complete apathy for every Chicago Cubs fan that has ever sat in the stands at Wrigley Field and watched the Cubbies go into a death spiral in the standings as the goat curse takes our yet another team.

I am committed that next year will be my year, it has to be! In 2011 it will be a decade since the Diamondbacks World Series Championship. I just have to be at Fantasy Camp for that. It should also be the opening of the Arizona Diamondbacks new Spring Training facility in Scottsdale and I cannot think of anything cooler than to be at that camp.

If I am somehow able to convince my wife that 2011 is the year I finally get to Diamondbacks Fantasy Camp, this might truly be the pinnacle of my bucket list because I would die a happy man.

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