Well, that was fun, albeit for reasons almost entirely non-Diamondback related. We didn't get there until the bottom of the second inning, thanks to dinner at the India Delhi Palace (52nd St + McDowell). The food was awesome - perhaps the best curry I've tasted in Arizona - but the service made a glacier look enthusiastically busy. We'll be back; just not when we have anything scheduled later.
However, it's not as if we needed to rush to get the best seats. The official attendance was a mere 347, and even though we sauntered in half an hour late, we found seats about six rows behind the Desert Dogs dugout, and had the row almost to ourselves. We were sitting a couple of rows behind a "celebrity" - the flag lady, who's probably Arizona's biggest fan, was there, and had brought her flags. She later headed up to the back though, to wave them. This was probably fortunate - I could sense her extrovert nature was beginning to wear thin on Chris, whose sarcastic whispers were steadily becoming more sarcastic, and less whispered.
Which was potentially dangerous, since AFL games are a heckler's paradise. You don't even need to shout, since even your normal voice would be clearly heard on the field. You want to remind Casey Daigle how much he sucked in 2004, or rag on him about how his other half's a better pitcher? Get thee to the Fall League.
For to describe security at "low key" would be doing a disservice to low keys everywhere. I think I could have meandered into the dugout without anyone stopping me. If I'd had a batting helmet, I could probably have borrowed Chris's D'back jersey and gone into the on-deck circle, with no impact beyond confusing the hell out of the announcer: "Now batting, #31, from the Arizona Diamondbacks...Trash City?" Though since he had to handle Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he'd probably have coped.
Yes, have to say, there are some great names to be found in the league. Not necessarily players - just names. Batting #1 and #2 for the River Rafters were Denard Span and Lastings Milledge, while Bronson Sardinha patrolled right-field. Meanwhile, the Desert Dogs had the intriguingly multi-cultural Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, and poor Saltalamacchia's name was too big for the scoreboad, and so could only be displayed in four-point font.
I was expecting an offensive explosion, but it didn't happen - the game only produced a total of three runs (one earned) on eleven hits. The Yankees' Steven White allowed two hits for the Rafters through five innings; while a trio of Oakland prospects gave up only two unearned runs through eight innings for the Dogs. Grand Canyon took the victory 3-0, should you be concerned about such things.
Was somewhat disappointed to see uber-prospect Drew not in the lineup - playing shortstop instead was someone called Tony Abreu, and the only D'back to see action all night was Jarrod Ball in left. He hit a double in the second, the only extra-base hit Phoenix managed all night, but we just missed seeing it (curse you, India Delhi Palace!), and he went 0-for-3 at the plate thereafter. He did make a nice throw from the outfield to nail Span, who tried to stretch a single into a double.
Inevitably, we were left to make our own entertainment, which was mostly spent watching the crowd. We were amused to see kids chasing foul balls as if their very life depended on them - even if there was nobody else within a hundred feet of the section. We ooh'ed at the line-drive foul that pinged into the stands...then ricocheted back to the pitcher's mound. We appreciated the enthusiastic strike calls of the umpire, and the echo that followed. We looked up at the bats (baseball bats?) chasing the insects attracted by the lights. For $6, we had a very good time indeed.
We'll probably burn in hell for this, but the most fun was had watching one fan, dubbed by Chris as "the Monster", because of a resemblance to Charlize Theron in the film of the same name. Almost albino, apparently a chromosome or two short of a full spiral-strand, and possessing a voice that was more of a honk, which she (or he - I'm still unconvinced on that front) used on almost every pitch. At one point she even seemed to be flirting with the players. We couldn't tear our eyes away.
The game was all over in less than two hours - only 90 minutes or so after we arrived. This was probably no bad thing, as it was getting chilly, and the concession stand didn't sell any hot drinks. But the idea of going back for another game is certainly not unpleasant, albeit hopefully on a warmer evening! Only this time, Chris wants to sit directly behind the Monster...
Still with regard to AFL action, There's a nice report on all the D'backs prospects and their performances so far here. And John Sickels looks at the question of How Meaningful is the Arizona Fall League, and more or less comes up with the answer, "It depends".
But in other news, rumours suggest the D'backs are looking to trade Conor Jackson for Torii Hunter. Inevitably, this has led to another round of front-office bashing among some fans - regardless of whether this has any basis in reality or not. Remember the whole "sky is falling" thing, that said Jackson and Quentin were going to be dealt away before the 2005 deadline? How did that work out? Oh, I forgot: we didn't. By all means, clobber the front-office for trades and decisions they make; just wait until they actually make them though, rather than using baseless rumours.