Shortly after the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field I was in the car traveling north on the 101 to Salt River Fields. It felt like autopilot as I made the trek I did almost daily during Spring Training. One look at the thermometer in the rear view mirror and seeing 109 degrees was a reminder that this was no Cactus League game.
On a minor league field adjacent to the Diamondbacks Spring Training clubhouse was tonight’s edition of the Arizona Summer League featuring minor league players for the Arizona Diamondbacks versus the Cleveland Indians. The Arizona Summer League is a minor league affiliate that is made up predominantly of players just starting their careers. It is one level below Short Season A ball which in the case of the Diamondbacks is held in Missoula Montana.
Over the years I have developed a love/hate relationship with the Major League Baseball All-Star game. On the one hand I love the idea of the best players from each league getting together on the same field and showing what it would be like if we could build a team from our favorite baseball cards where money and economics are of no consequence. It is the one time of year where every fan feels like the general manager of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.
The game is a one-and-done proposition. You are not worried about pitch counts, team chemistry, or any of the other current buzzwords. You simply put the best players from each league on the playing field and see what the outcome will be.
From the moment that Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton hit the 1-2 count slider from Huston Street that floated above first base he was showered with boos from the sell-out crowd at Chase Field. It was not that single play that had made Upton the target of the Phoenix fans. There disdain began earlier this season and was now reaching fever pitch with an 0-5 performance and a missed ball in the outfield that became a home run.
The most interesting part was the catch or lack of a catch in the negative view of the fans. Upton didn’t throw the pitch that Yasmani Grandal hit to deep right center. That accomplishment was saved for the night’s other “villain” reliever David Hernandez who game up 2 runs in a single inning of work. He too was greeted by boos as he made his way off the mound in the eighth inning.
Perhaps one of the most hyped game in the Arizona Diamondbacks 2012 season was the July 3 game against the San Diego Padres. The middle game of a three game series against a division cellar team in rebuilding mode is not normally an attendance bonanza especially when your team has a three-game losing streak. The Diamondbacks though had a secret marketing weapon up their sleeve.
This game would mark the Chase Field debut of Trevor Bauer, the highly touted minor league prospect that had rocketed through the Diamondbacks farm system. Normally the amount of hype around a minor league call-up is tempered by the fact that the player has no experience at the major league level. There are a select few prospects where that doesn’t matter such as Washington Nationals phenoms Steven Strasberg and Bryce Harper and in 2007 the Arizona Diamondbacks Justin Upton.