According to the calendar, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on the summer solstice. This is day that the earth’s “circle of illumination” receives the longest amount of daylight. On this date the North Pole will receive 24 hours of daylight while the South Pole will receive 24 hours of darkness. The equator will be equally split into 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. As a child I always thought Christmas Eve was the longest day of the year as it seemed like it lasted forever as we waited for night fall so that Santa Claus could come and visit our house. Come to think of it Christmas Eve was also the longest night of the year since it took forever to end and become Christmas morning so we could see what bounty the old elf had brought us during the night.


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It seemed as though the days dragged on this off-season and that baseball was dark forever. Every day I would look at the calendar and although it said that we were one day closer to Spring Training it felt as though we had taken a step backwards in time and that the rites of Spring would never come. Finally after all the wait; pitchers and catchers began arriving in Tucson for the eventual beginning of Spring Training. It was a glorious day on February 14 when players officially began to report. I am constantly reminded by my wife that it was also Valentine’s Day and that in the future I should probably remember the date. A few days after pitchers and catchers; the remaining players arrived at Tucson Electric Park and Spring Training officially opened.


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Almost as soon as the final pitch was thrown against the Colorado Rockies on September 28 I began working on the redesign and upgrade of my NowHitting web site. Given the total number of pages I had to modify, it was a very time consuming task. As a result I have been described as a little less than involved in family life around our house. This is the message that my wife tends to deliver to me on nearly a daily basis. She tends to point out my fatherly and husbandly shortcomings with an inordinate amount of detail. Now with Opening Day a mere 2 days 22 hours and 24 minutes away, I am again getting the lecture about my seeming lack of proper priorities. This is the part I don’t quite understand. How can she say my priorities are messed up? Didn’t I just give her a new Sedona Red polo shirt with a nice Diamondbacks logo so that she had something nice to wear to work? As it was explained to me, being a good husband means more than just buying your wife something nice from the Team Shop. It means spending quality time together. It was therefore suggested that before the madness of baseball season descends upon us perhaps it would a good idea for us to have a “date night”.


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Prior to the 1999 season the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled a program they called the “Frequent Fang Program”. This was basically a fan loyalty system where you were awarded points for every game you attended. It came with a really cool credit card looking thing that had a bar code on the back. Around then Bank One Ballpark were kiosks where you could scan your card and you received 10 points for attending that day’s game. As you accumulated points you received Diamondbacks swag. Most of these “prizes” were about as valuable as what you would win in a carnival game at the state fair but there were some that were extremely valuable. For example if you attended 72 out of the possible 81 games that year you were given an autographed baseball bat and had the opportunity to walk around the warning track in a pre-game parade. That was extremely cool. There were of course a few problems with the system such as the fact that it was possible for one person to run multiple cards. There was many a day I stood there and watched one fan scan 20 cards for points. Even with its flaws, the program was valuable. While I loved the little prizes, it was the accumulation of points that really drove me. There was nothing more rewarding than scanning that card and seeing an astronomical number of points to validate the kind of fan you were. It became almost a game as you looked over the shoulder of the guy in front of you and lingered after your turn to compare how many games you had been to versus the other fans. The Diamondbacks fed that competition by awarding lifetime points and pins that commemorated the milestones. I still have a set of these pins hanging on my wall to remind me of how many games I had gone to.


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On December 11, 2008 the Arizona Diamondbacks selected catcher James Skelton from the Detroit Tigers as part of the Rule 5 Draft. Many Diamondbacks fans were left scratching their head wondering first “who is James Skelton” and second, “what in the world do the Diamondbacks need another catcher”. A Rule 5 selection is a dicey proposition at best. Sometimes you strike it rich like in the case of Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and the Diamondbacks very own Dan Uggla but in most cases the player fails to pan out and the team is left for all intents and purposes with a 24 man roster. I’m not going to go into the minute details of the Rule 5 process, I’ll leave that discussion to the baseball academia or those who get even less sleep than I do. Instead I wanted to give my read on the James Skelton situation and what I think it says about the Diamondbacks and their farm system.


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There are few things that will bring damnation to a man’s soul quicker than forgetting the birthday or anniversary of someone you love. I’ve heard tales where men were burned at the stake when they realized too late that they forgot to recognize their wife’s birthday or somehow spaced off the fact that it was their anniversary. My experience has been that women fall within two camps. The first type will drop subtle hints to their absent-minded spouse to help them jog that memory and make a shoestring catch saving an extra base hit. The other type of woman will give absolutely no indication that an event is coming up. They hope to catch the husband in a pickle where he runs back and forth between bases before being tagged out and has to face the wrath of the manager.


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One of my favorite scenes from the movie Back to the Future is when Doc Brown is standing at the clock tower waiting for Marty McFly to return from the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. They are under extreme time pressure if they hope to send Marty back to 1985 using the lightning strike to the tower. I mean where else are you going to get 1.21 gigawatts especially in 1955. So here is Doc Brown pacing back and forth looking at the various time pieces he is carrying. Each time he looks at his watch he mutters, “Damn!” and continues pacing. This is pretty much how my entire week is going to go.


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