I come from a large family—I am the oldest of nine siblings. Of my eight brothers and sisters, I have three brothers (two of whom are married) and five sisters (three of whom are married, one who is engaged to be married in October, and one who is still in high school).
Something that we (brothers and Dad) try to do each season at least once is have a guy’s night out to see the Diamondbacks play. Saturday’s game (a 5-4 victory over the Marlins) was that night for us, but with additions. This year was almost the whole group of men—Dad, two of my brothers (the other lives out of state), two of my brothers-in-law (one lives out of state), my soon-to-be brother-in-law, and I*.
Seven men, a baseball game, and fun times. Mind you, you must know that our fun is different. No alcohol, just baseball and good-natured ribbing. On a more personal note, I also was limited by the fact that I am on a pretty strict diet (I need to shed some weight for a life insurance exam to qualify for the best rate…and I’m just a few pounds away), so I had to stick to water and water at the game.
Here’s how the afternoon/evening went:
3:15 PM- I throw my jersey on and head to Dad’s house. I am the only one with a car big enough to carry us all (thanks to four children), so I will be the acting chauffeur. I’m hoping that my A/C will cool the van down to bearable before I get there.
3:30- I arrive at Dad’s. All but Old Man are there.
3:40- Old Man still not there. Never mind my car being cooled down. That’s all undone.
3:45- I hear tires squeal and wonder if it is Old Man. Mom wonders why I think that. It is him.
3:50- We all load up in the van. I realize two things. One, I’m glad I’m driving—I have the most comfortable spot. Two, this is officially the largest load (7 grown and mostly overweight men) my car has ever carried.
4:17- We pull off the freeway. New Guy mentions this is his first time ever going to a Dbacks’ game. I almost forget to drive. He’s not only a "night out with the Root men virgin," he’s a "Dbacks’ game virgin." This should be fun.
4:21- We discuss where we should park. I tell where I like to park for free in a neighborhood, but we’d have to walk almost two miles (I’m cheap). Consensus is to park close by, and that was my plan.
4:23- We pull up to a lot right behind the stadium. It’s only five bucks! I know for a fact that it has been ten dollars before. I guess there are some benefits of a season in which no one attends games. Lower demand, lower prices for parking. Parking close was definitely the best choice.
4:30- We enter the stadium and receive our Greg Schulte bobblehead. The box is really light. I think it’s the lightest one that has ever been handed out. Dang economy. On the bright side, I don’t think that this bobblehead will jinx the team (previous people with bobbleheads I have either have struggled later or have been fired).
While walking through the ballpark to our seats, I see a guy dressed as Indiana Jones. I wonder why. Then I see Star Wars and Ghostbuster characters. That’s right, it’s 80’s night. We walk by Chewbacca, and he’s got a ton on gray in his fur. I don’t remember that about him. Then again, it has been 30 years. Wookies age too, I guess.
4:33- We take our seats in the left field bleachers, section 143, rows 18 and 19. The Favorite, Old Man, Ribs and I are in row 18; Dad, Unmarried, and New Guy are in row 19. Unmarried gets lemonades for himself, Dad and The Favorite. Ribs, Old Man, and New Guy get sodas. I sit tight with the two bottles of water I brought in.
4:40- Ribs brings up the possibility of going out to eat after the game. I was hoping to avoid this because of the diet. Thankfully, The Favorite saves me from that. He has to pick up his two boys after the game since his wife is out, too. Ribs and Unmarried take the opportunity to chide me about my diet by mentioning all the great things I could be eating now.
4:48- After seeing the third pregnant lady in my section, I wonder what’s going on. There is a clueless guy sighting—a dude and his pregnant wife/girlfriend/something are finding their seats. Instead of walking by people, he chooses to go a row down and then step over bleacher and makes his pregnant girl follow, but doesn’t offer a hand. Remember this guy.
4:52- What? Are things that bad in MLB right now? Commissioner Bud Selig is hawking icees in our section.
4:58- The guys in row 19 have to stand to let a group of people though in their row to their seats. Remember them. The Favorite, Unmarried and I banter about how each of us is going to get a home run ball and keep the other from getting it.
5:12- The game finally begins.
5:20- After Ian Kennedy retires the first hitter, The Favorite blurts out how the no-hitter is still intact, using the word "no-hitter." Unmarried and I yell at him for jinxing it after one batter. Two batters later, when Kennedy gives up a hit, all of us give him grief. After two baserunners and 22 pitches, Kennedy gets out of the first without allowing a run.
5:31- After a leadoff walk, an infield single, and a fly ball to advance the runner to third, Chris Young picks up his 61st RBI with a sacrifice fly. 1-0 Arizona.
5:33- Dad, Unmarried, and The New Guy have to get up for the family in their row getting up for something.
5:37- They come back. Dad, Unmarried, and The New Guy have to get up again.
5:40- Kennedy gets out of the second inning, but is throwing a lot of pitches—72 so far. Doesn’t look like he will be going very deep. I wonder if he’ll even make it through the fifth.
5:54- After Kennedy strikes out, Stephen Drew walks again (having a very nice game so far). A pop out, the Drew steals second (see…a good game). Upton singles to right and Drew scores. 2-0 Dbacks. It’s looking good.
6:12- Ribs asks me if I want to go to Prescott with him next weekend to go taste competition barbeque. He means well, but I have that diet. It’s torture. That and I have family pictures being taken that day and a wedding to go to. I instead text my buddy Nate to see if he wants to go. He has to check with the wife.
6:24- Reynolds leads off the bottom of the fourth and hits a high fly ball. It has distance…AND IT"S COMING STRAIGHT FOR US! REALLY? OHHH! HOME RUN! 3-0 Arizona. It falls exactly two rows below me, but the guy trying to catch it misses. The ball bounces into the section to the left of us. That was the second best shot I’ve ever had at getting a souvenir batted ball, the first that is a homer (I’m 33 and only have ever had 3 real shots at getting one).
I tell The Favorite about how I almost got one the very first time I went to a baseball game. It was for my twelfth birthday and Dad took me out of school to see the Giants and Brewers play in spring training in Chandler. Rob Deer smoked line drive foul that went between the fence and the tarp in front of me. I got my glove down to catch it and the ball literally dipped below the glove and where I could reach the split second before I would have caught it. The left fielder (and later coach for the Diamondbacks) Dwayne Murphy retrieved the ball, but tossed it to other people in my section.
6:26- Chris Snyder hits a blast two sections over from us. I cheer and tell Unmarried that my two favorite players just homered in the same inning. Then I turn around and he’s out. I’m confused. The stadium operators even signaled it. I guess he’s out. (I had to check the Internet when I got home to find out what happened. It turns out that Chris Coghlan made an over the wall catch. From my vantage point, I couldn’t see what happened.)
6:27- Cole Gillespie grounds out. I can’t help it. Every time I see him or refer to him, I want to call him Dizzy. Must be the trumpeter in me.
6:30- Ian Kennedy gives a up a homer to Mike Stanton. (Wasn’t he a relief pitcher? Oh, a different guy.) 3-1. Kennedy gets out of the inning but is over 90 pitches and is set to lead off. I think it is probably a good time to get him out of the game.
6:32- Dad, Unmarried, and The New Guy have to get up AGAIN for the same people.
6:35- Kennedy hits. I guess he’s going back in. We’ll see if this is a good idea.
6:45- Drew got a hit and has been on 3 times. Excellent night. It’s a 3-1 game, two outs, a runner on, and Upton at the plate. You’d think this would be a time to pay attention. Apparently not. The drunks a couple rows behind us have decided to start the wave. I personally hate the wave. It is a fun thing to do when the game is boring or between innings, but UPTON IS AT THE PLATE. WATCH THE EFFING GAME! I do not participate. Arizona fans know nothing. Upton flies out.
6:49- My bobblehead concerns are confirmed. A kid in the section over from us opens his box and within a minute the figurine is broken. Dad, Unmarried, and The New Guy have to get up for the people to return.
6:55- After a double, a flyout, and a single to give up a run, the score is 3-2 and Kennedy is done. They should have pinch hit for him. In comes Señor Balk-off, Esmerling Vasquez. I’ll be honest. I teach Spanish and have NO idea what kind of name Esmerling is. He gets the last two outs. Score remains 3-2.
6:57- Chris Young reaches safely. Picher is paying A LOT of attention to him. Should have picked him off, but he makes a horrible throw that gets away from the first baseman. Reynolds is up and I’m hoping for home run number two. Ribs says that he is due…for a strikeout. He flies out. The drunks attempt to get the wave going again DURING the at-bat. Stupid people.
7:03- After I tell The Favorite that Snyder should blast 18 rows back to avoid whatever happened last at-bat. Right on cue, a few pitches later, he obliges…a homer about 15 rows back. No doubt that time. The stadium operators don’t start the celebration sequence until after he’s past second base. 5-2.
7:10- With all the faith I have in the bullpen, I wonder "How are we going to lose this game tonight?" The Favorite tells me he really liked my article about Dbacks bingo and asks me what I do if all of those things happen. The answer? Misery.
7:25- Remember to dude with the pregnant lady? They step over the bleacher again to get out, and he doesn’t help her. Ribs says that his wife would kill her if he were to ignore her like that. I mention that I give my wife my hand to do that even when she’s NOT pregnant. They return a couple of minutes later and repeat the travesty. We determine that he is just stupid. Meanwhile, Dad, Unmarried, and The New Guy have to get up again as the people in their row leave and return. I’m glad I am in row 18.
7:35- It’s the eighth inning, score still 5-2. Heilman in the game. He gives up a hit, and then botches a sacrifice bunt again. I’ve decided that he should not ever attempt to field a bunt again. I’m thinking he may have ruined this game
7:37- He didn’t ruin it. He gets out of the inning without giving up a run. Still 5-2. Three outs left for the bullpen to get.
7:56- I saw a white guy running in to pitch the top of the ninth. I thought it was the newest guy down there, Sam Demel. When I realize that it is Chad Qualls, I get in "oh, no" mode. Since when is Qualls closing games again? Has it not been established that he is no good in that role? He commits an error on an easy play back to the mound, then gives up a double, and I’m now in "OH NO!" mode. The ensuing two-run hit, bringing the score to 5-4, puts me in "oh yeah, that’s what usually happens" mode.
At this point the crowd is booing Qualls like he’s Manny Ramirez or something. When Kirk Gibson goes to pull him, the crowd cheers. I feel horrible for him as a human being, but as a player, I want him dead. Juan Gutierrez comes in and I have visions of a home run.
8:02- A guy in the section over calls for a double play after he gets the first out. I laugh and tell The Favorite that Gutierrez is a pitching version of Mark Reynolds—strikeouts or homers. So what happens? 3-6-1 double play. Nicely done, game over. The Diamondbacks win. Time to go home and eat something small.
The ride home is spirited, with a lot of political banter. When we get back to Dad’s and everyone gets out, I think the van is now six inches higher off the ground. I get home about nine and watch TV with my wife and kids. It was as good a night as I could have had. We need to do it again.
*The pseudonyms for the family are as follows:
Me/I= obviously, yours truly
Dad= my dad
Unmarried= my unmarried brother Michael
The Favorite= my brother Robert, known by my parents as the favorite son
Ribs= my brother-in-law and friend (because of joining the family) Jared, who is also part of the ASU football game group
Old Man= my brother-in-law James, the only one (other than Dad) older than I am
The New Guy= my soon-to-be brother-in-law Stephen