It’s always tough when this day arrives each year. After spending 83 days at Chase Field watching at a minimum 747 innings of baseball, it is hard to say good bye. I always feel as though I am leaving home go to away to school. Sure you can come back for holidays or to have a home cooked meal (in this case that means Friday’s Front Row grill) but you ultimately have to go back to school and you just can’t wait for the year to be over so you can come home again. When you go to this many games each year you get attached to your seat location and you form a bond with the other fans that sit around you, and you know you are going to miss seeing them for six months. Well you will miss all of them except maybe the syringe guy who sat in front of you during the San Francisco Giants game. To forget him would require a lot of therapy. I started to think back on the 2006 season and all that we’ve seen at Chase Field. From catching the foul ball off the drunken guy’s face to watching Baxter the Bobcat toss a quarter of a sheet cake in the face of a Mets fan, this season has been amazing. Nothing in the first 82 games (counting the two spring training games in March) could have prepared me for the festivities of the day.
The phone rang at the house and the kids all rushed to the caller ID to see who was calling since each of them was sure that the incoming call was for them. I am not sure how we ever lived without Caller ID since no one in our house ever thinks to just pick up the phone and say hello to see who is on the other line. In this case the display read, “Arizona Diamondbacks”.
“Dad, it’s for you!” I am not sure why they think that if the display says Arizona Diamondbacks it necessarily means that they are calling for me. Having your phone ring and the Caller ID saying it is a Major League Baseball team is probably the closest thing I will ever have to a Bat Phone. I always envision answering the call and having it be manager Bob Melvin or general manager Josh Byrnes on the other end saying they heard about my first pitch and were wondering if I would be available to sign a contract. That never seems to happen but it is always great to dream between the second and third rings. Coming out of my alternative reality, I picked up the phone.
“Hi, may I speak to Jeff Summers?”
“This is he.”
“Hi Jeff this is the Diamondbacks MVP Rewards department and we have identified that you are one of our most active members and we would like to invite you to an event.”
One of their most active members? I am not sure what to think about that. Does that mean that they see me scanning my card at every game or that I have started to rack up points buying concessions or is this about the 3 jerseys I bought because I had not gotten a new jersey this century? None of these sounds like a good thing. I thought maybe this was one of those profiling things and the next thing I know a mug shot would be shown on the evening news and my neighbor would be saying stuff like, “He seemed fairly normal from October through March but then he got really strange from April through September. He’d be gone 83 nights always at 4:30 returning around 10:30. He may be a serial killer or terrorist for all I know.”
“Wow, thanks!” I said.
“We would like to invite you to the Saturday game against the San Diego Padres as our way of saying thanks. Would you like to go to the game this weekend?”
“Uh, well yeah I had thought maybe I would go to the game.” I was trying to play it cool while all the time I was dancing around like the midget on the Gieco commercial singing, “It’s my birthday, fixed my bumper, it’s my birthday, got new taillights.”
“Great, you and a guest are invited to watch the game from the owner’s suite. I’ll have the tickets at will call for you to pick up and we’ll see you at the game.”
Last night’s game was a debacle as nothing seemed to go right for the Diamondbacks. In what may have been his last start as an Arizona Diamondback, Miguel Batista was rocked lasting only 3 1/3 innings and allowing 7 runs on 8 hits. This was probably not the impression he wanted to leave with the Diamondbacks nor potential suitors for his services in 2007. With the score 7-0 as he left, it was a big hole to try and dig out of. The Diamondbacks players just could not figure out Jake Peavy who threw six innings allowing only 2 runs and 5 hits. In the end the Diamondbacks were on the short end of a 12-4 beating to start the final series of the year. Not everything at last night’s game was negative, there is an excitement building in the air for the final games with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez. Signs wishing the players well began popping up throughout the ballpark with more to come.
The upcoming four game home series that concludes the 2006 regular season has all the makings of a three-ring circus. It should have something for everyone. It will mark the final games in a Diamondbacks uniform for Luis Gonzalez and probably Craig Counsell. There are rumors swirling that this may be the only season that catcher Johnny Estrada will have with the Diamondbacks and Miguel Batista will be a free-agent meaning he too may not return. The end of the season marks the end of the Rich Dozer era as Diamondbacks president closing another chapter that began when the team was formed in 1995. Sunday’s game will also be the final game the Diamondbacks play wearing purple, turquoise and copper before the team changes to Sedona red, black, and sand next year. This series will also be Brandon Webb’s last game to show the baseball writers why he should be considered the leading candidate for the National League Cy Young and will be the final four games for Orlando Hudson to make a case of why he deserves consideration for a Gold Glove. Sunday’s game will also be the first game that Jerry Colangelo will attend since he was ousted as General Partner meaning there may be fireworks as well. Oh and by the way the San Diego Padres are in town and fighting for a play-off spot in case anyone is interested in that.
After splitting the first two games of the series with the San Francisco Giants, the Diamondbacks find themselves in the same position as they did in the San Diego Padres series and the Los Angeles Dodgers series. That means that the team had to win today to take the series when they should have been playing for a sweep. Each of the games that the Diamondbacks have lost on this road trip was very winnable yet here we sit with a record of 3-5. This is just a microcosm of the way this whole season has gone for the Diamondbacks. They have had numerous opportunities to be in the thick of a play-off run but they just can’t seem to string together a series of wins over a specified time. At first I blamed global warming since that appears to be the scapegoat for all that is wrong in the world but as soon as you start talking about temperatures rising someone always brings up the melting ice caps and the whole in the ozone layer and it’s just hard to get the conversation back onto baseball after that.
Last weekend we received word of an emergency which required our attention. My wife Trina and daughter Mallorie immediately got in the car to travel to be with family. Due to scheduling conflicts, I was forced to stay at home with the younger kids. Although the family was separated we remained in contact with each other via cell phone. Over the next few days things subsided and returned back to normal giving Trina and Mallorie an opportunity to spend a few days together away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at our house. Last evening Trina called to see how things were going and to make sure I had not somehow killed the children by starving them. She seems to believe that I am only capable of feeding the kids ballpark food and since the Diamondbacks are not back in town until Thursday she was worried that they were going hungry. I attempted to explain to her that perhaps what the Diamondbacks needed was for us to fast and pray for better starting pitching and timely hitting but she wasn’t buying into that theory and insisted that I get the kids something to eat besides a bag of peanuts and a bottle of water. She also seemed adamant about making sure that I realized that people did not come in after the game and sweep up peanut shells at home like they did at the ballpark. I was pretty sure I knew that when the shells were still sitting next to my chair from Saturday’s game.
There are some times that for unexplainable reasons a player just has a team’s number. It would be safe to say that Jason Schmidt has had the Diamondbacks number. Since 2002, Schmidt has established an amazing 11-0 record against Arizona while maintaining a 2.93 ERA. It doesn’t matter who the Diamondbacks start against Schmidt the results always seem to be the same. So when Arizona arrived in San Francisco and saw the pitching match-up for tonight’s game was Jason Schmidt against rookie Edgar Gonzalez they had to have a sick feeling in their stomach. Schmidt pitching coupled with the late surge by Barry Bonds is not a good combination if you are a Diamondbacks fan.