Over the course of 162 game season that covers nearly six months the Diamondbacks have approximately 12 days off. When you stop to think about it, that is a huge commitment. How many of us would be willing to work 7 days a week with only two days off a month. Add to that the fact that you have to be away from your family for nearly the whole time and you gain an appreciation of the sacrifices baseball players make.
From a fan’s perspective it is just the opposite. The most dedicated of us spend 81 days away from home in the comfort of Chase Field rooting for the Diamondbacks. Vacations are planned around road trips and if you play your cards right you might just be able to talk the family into a destination where the Diamondbacks just happen to be playing such as San Diego, Denver, or Los Angeles.
The problems for fans are those 12 off days. Never have 24 hours seemed longer than when your favorite team is not playing. You have to be careful in how you use those off-days. If you try to just relax you run the risk of your wife pulling out the “honey-do” list which could result in cleaning the house, yard work, or worse fixing the leaking sink that has been dripping since Opening Day in April.
I remember when I was in high school. Teachers would assign term papers and give you a syllabus showing when tests were scheduled. Like most teenagers I would immediately cram the syllabus into my backpack not to be seen again until books were turned in at the end of the school year.
Despite the constant reminders that assignments would be due I would ignore them as I calculated the fielding percentages and try to understand how to measure defense to evaluate players. Finally the day would come when the test or paper was due and I would be unprepared.
You had to walk a tightrope. On the one hand you needed an excuse that would be sufficiently serious enough to get you out of class but it couldn’t be too dire otherwise you would end up in a doctor’s office, which was even worse than high school.
I remember after the fifth or sixth excuse that my high school guidance counselor called me in to explain the gravity of the situation. Somewhere in the conversation he said something like, “the habits you are forming now will follow you throughout your life.” I can’t remember my smart aleck response. It must have been good because the counselor’s face turned a shade of purple that closely matched the original color of the Diamondbacks.
That was followed by an eruption where he began screaming at me. All I remember from that tirade was, “Blah, blah, blah… you’ll be making license plates at the state pen by the time you are 30… blah, blah, blah.” On my 30th birthday I wanted to get a post card of the state prison and send it to the counselor with a simple note, “weather is great, wish you were here.”
I have to admit though, the counselor was right. No, not about the license plates, once again I didn’t live up to his expectations on that one. No he was right about how high school prepared me by establishing habits I would use in my life as an adult.
Today when my wife suggested that perhaps I could get a few things done around the house since there was no game today I immediately began using the skills I perfected in High School. The excuses flowed like an Ian Kennedy fastball hitting the corners for a strike.
I was truly amazed at my eloquence as I explained how I needed this day for research to understand UZR and VORP and how they could be used to establish value. I used just enough jargon to make her think I was working on our retirement plans and investments. If she ever finds out UZR is Ultimate Zone Rating for understanding when a player saves you runs with his defense or VORP is Value over Replacement Player I’ll definitely find myself in a doctor’s office or worse an emergency room.
So while today did seem to drag on endlessly because the Diamondbacks were not playing I can at least find solace in the fact that at least I didn’t spend the day crammed under the sink trying to fix a dripping faucet. Now if I can just get commissioner Bud Selig to eliminate the off days during the season I wouldn’t have to resort to the things I learned in high school.