Earlier this week the Arizona Diamondbacks announced who would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. They have given this honor to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner who recently retired.
Warner has been a fan favorite during his time in Arizona and led them to a Super Bowl in 2009. His departure from football will be greatly felt and for the Diamondbacks to recognize him they should be applauded. While I believe that Warner deserves the honor of throwing out a first pitch, I find myself a little disappointed in the timing of this.
I awoke this morning with a myriad of emotions. Today was the Arizona Diamondbacks final home Spring Training game at Tucson Electric Park. The final Spring Training game is usually a source of joy as it means the exhibition season is winding down and the regular season is about to begin.
This year the final game at Tucson Electric Park truly is the final game there. After 13 years of Spring Training in Tucson, that era in Arizona Diamondbacks history is coming to an end. Next February when pitchers and catchers report they will do so at the new Spring Training complex in northern Scottsdale.
After the 2007 season that saw the Arizona Diamondbacks exceed expectations and reach the National League Championship Series, the team decided to make a blockbuster trade to bring in another front line starter.
General Manager Josh Byrnes would make a trade with the Oakland Athletics that would bring Dan Haren to the desert for several top prospects. The trade was warranted and given the success Haren has had with the Diamondbacks he was worth the price.
On the evening of February 27, 1998 for the first time the Arizona Diamondbacks took the field. It was 32 days before the Inaugural Game at what was then Bank One Ballpark. This was the first Spring Training Game to be held in Tucson Electric Park.
The complex had been built for the Diamondbacks along with the Chicago White Sox and everything was new and exciting. The first game was not a traditional day game as we’ve come to expect from the Cactus League.
Earlier this week I received an email from the Arizona Diamondbacks Season Ticket Holder Services group. In the email they outlined another new benefit for being a Season Ticket Holder. In our Season Ticket Holder package we received a voucher to be redeemed at Chase Field during any home game in April or May.
The voucher is good for a “Fan Loyalty Cup” and can be picked up at the Season Ticket Holders area behind Section 111-112. This cup can be refilled at most Chase Field concession stands for 32 ounces of soda for a reasonable $2 price.
For as long as the Diamondbacks have played at Bank One Ballpark/Chase Field, there have been Team Shops to sell the team’s merchandise. In the early years there were Team Shops not only at the stadium but also around valley malls.
This of course made it easy for fans to pick up team merchandise at a location close to where they live. My wife of course hated the idea since it meant more outlets for me to visit and bring home “yet another piece of Diamondbacks gear”.
At this point in Spring Training the players have settled into their routine. Starting pitchers are stretching themselves out to five to seven innings building arm strength as they make their final push to Opening Day.
This is usually the time when position players try to quickly get their work in and hopefully overcome any bad habits and most importantly avoid injury. The last thing a player or the team wants is to lose someone to injury just over a week before the end of Spring Training.