The interest was apparent as soon as I arrived at the park. I deliberately got to Chase Field fashionably late, expecting 30 minutes to be enough time for the queues to have died down. That wasn't the case, though matters weren't helped by the presence, for the first time at FanFest, of mandatory metal-detectors. This, and the limited number of gates open, meant that it took longer for me to get from the plaza into Chase Field, than it took me get from 91st Avenue and the I-10 to the plaza. Still, no rush.
The numbers were equally high inside the park, and it definitely seemed busier, even though the event appeared to have spread out over much more of the stadium this year. Instead of everything being on the field, the Yard Sale, for instance, was just inside the main gates, and most of the autograph sessions also took place on the main concourse. Probably a good thing, in terms of spreading out the crowds, but there were still extremely long lines for just about everything. Want a seat for the Paul Goldschmidt/A.J. Pollock panel? Good luck with that, as the Sedona Red horde above shows!
I was relatively restrained on the purchase front. The yard sale seemed to consist almost entirely of T-shirts, except for a sadly enormous pile of Paul Goldschmidt Bleacher Creatures, reduced to clear at $5. Remember when those were going for $44? Guess not everything he touches turns to gold... I did visit the D-backs Authentics stand, and picked up a "Mystery Jersey", belonging to a random Diamondback. At $40, this seemed pretty good value, considering "authentic" jerseys go for well into three digits, without any history. I deliberately went for the smallest size I could find, because the last thing I wanted was to be landed with a Heath Bell... Did I succeed? Find out later!
Did watch a couple of panels. Enjoyed the one mentioned above, with Derrick Hall, Goldie and A.J, which gave a nice insight into the two players. They gave them each a placard, the front of which had their name, and the back had the other's name, and Hall then fired various questions such as "Who has the messiest locker?" and the two players had to vote for themselves or their colleague. Never realized Goldschmidt was a fan of cooking - as if the SnakePit Laideez could need any more reason to adore him! The panel with Hall, Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart was also interesting, Stewart saying giving up on Swanson was the hardest part of the trade for Shelby Miller.
I skipped most of the activities, simply because the lines were too long, fun though it might have been to take a swing in the batting cages, etc. According to the guide, Ken Kendrick's baseball card collection was supposed to be making an appearance behind home-plate, next to the photo ops with the World Series trophy, but if it was there, it must have been very well disguised. It also turned out I needn't have been concerned about the sunblock because, they had the roof closed for the event - I think that wasn't the case previously. Definitely something I didn't mind, and I also appreciated the stand quietly making iced (and purified) water available to attendees.
By around 2:30pm, I'd seen just about everything I felt I needed to be seen and headed back home, enthusiasm adequately recharged, and ready for another season of Diamondbacks baseball. "But, wait!" I hear you yell. "Who did you get for your mystery jersey?" To answer that question, in the finest tradition of Kinder Surprise and other opening videos, I give you The Unbaggening, so if you want to find out, play the video below! I'm fairly happy, as much because the jersey is from 2011, which was a pretty good year for the D-backs - perhaps we can hope that it is an omen for how this season is going to go!