Driving through west Texas is quite possibly the most boring drive you can ever make. In fact, El Paso is closer to California than it is to it’s own states capital and there is a whole lot of absolutely nothing in between. We did, however, find a Dairy Queen to stop for dinner…surprise surprise there was a DQ in a random small West Texas town.
The Fan Friendly Snakes
I was super excited because we had the chance to stop and see my Grandpa and Uncle Doug aka Dougie… in Elephant Butte, New Mexico right outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I think NM gets the award for the most ridiculous city names. My Grandpa is quite the spry character. Aside from his incredibly strong political views and epically big grandpa hugs, he is an avid karyoke singer. We had the pleasure of experiencing his entertainment on a very personal level in his bedroom…and it was fantastic. I was very grateful to get to see Dougie and gramps, even if it was just for a little bit. We arrived late Saturday night and left after lunch on Sunday, but something is better than nothing.
We then headed straight for Phoenix. I had been to Phoenix earlier this year for Spring Training and I was excited to get back, it’s a fun city. Thanks to Tina Pangle we were set up nicely at the Sheraton. Free club level room with access to the lounge and a free bottle of wine and hors d’oeuvres, the beds were pretty comfy too. We ate dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant, Oreganos, where you are only allowed to order two Belinis per person…I ordered one and understood why that rule is enforced.
Monday morning we woke up excited and faithful that the Rangers would take at least one of the double header games…unfortunately we were wrong. But, fortunately that was the only down fall of our day. I was very excited to see how well Texas fans travel…there were a ton of us there. Chase Field was incredible. The first indication was the incredibly easy Will Call. We bought our tickets the night before online on the ticket master site and when we got to the field it took us all of 20 seconds to get to the machine, swipe my card, and print our tickets. It was free cap night for the first 5,000 fans 21 and older…Budweiser promotion. The portion of 4th street that runs right in front of the field was blocked off. I am not sure if this happens for every game or just because of the street festival that was occurring in between the games. Outside of the main entrance there is a bar/restaurant called Arizona Sports 360. I didn’t go in but considering the location I would imagine it would be a great place to pre-game, if you’re into that. There were tons of fans that showed up in time for the hat promo and I’m glad we did…it’s a good lookin’ cap. We both noticed the efficiency of the lines to get in the park, they definitely weren’t short, but moved quickly. I noticed some fans with a plastic snake rattle. Most were red and black but some were purple and black, so that must be an ongoing tradition.
Once inside we headed to the gift shop to get our official Chase Field MLB Passport stamp. They had an “engrave your own Louisville Slugger bat”…incredibly tempting. The guy next to us in line spent over $100 and got a free pack of Arizona Diamondbacks gold balls. An odd perk at a baseball field.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have set out to be the most fan friendly team in all of professional sports, says their president. They have done an incredible job so far. They have created an interactive environment for all fans, young an old. This is obvious through their in game activities and their helpful staff/guest relations. My favorite activity was the sign making. They had a long table set up fully stoked with think permanent markers and poster board. All you had to do was walk up and get creative. They have a lucky little kid who gets to announce “Play Ball” at the beginning of each game. I’m sure that’s something most of those kids will never forget. In a very unique way, the Diamondbacks have two hosts that come up on the scoreboard at least once an inning…They walk around the ballpark with microphones and walk you through what is going on and all of the promotions. Throughout the beginning of the game they do what is called the 50/50 raffle. Fans can purchase tickets for as little as $3, the money is collected and when the time comes a winner is drawn. They win half of the total money collected and the other half goes to the AZ Diamondbacks foundation. Unfortuanetely, I did not win, or I would be about $12,000 richer. You may also step up to any of the interactive kiosks and sign up to win a chance to spin a prize wheel, which everyone can watch on the scoreboard. In the middle of the third inning they did the hot dog race. This is where 3 lucky kids from different sections get dressed up in a hot dog costume; one with relish, one with ketchup, and one with mustard. They didn’t actually run, but the ran in place and moved their feet as fast as they could while a digital hot dog ran for them on the scoreboard. The winning hot dog awarded their entire section with free hots dogs. Every game they do a “Cheers for the troops,” where all vets and active military stand to be applauded. It meant a little bit more this time around, considering it was Memorial Day. In the middle of the 5th they did the typical kiss cam…I secretly really want to be one that one day…as long as I am with the right person. One thing that really impressed me was that they did a trash pick up at the beginning of the 7th. I felt like I was in an airplane and “passing all trash to the center isle.” Their Diamonbacks promo girls were quite active at the end of the game, but I wasn’t a fan of their pom poms and cheerleaderness…wrong sport. They did, however, wave big Dbacks flags with D. Baxter, their wildcat mascot. I didn’t catch the story as to why the Diamondbacks have a cat mascot.
During the second game the entire crowd gave a standing ovation for a WWII vet, sense of pride ran through my veins and gave me chills.
Their prices are also incredibly reasonable. $4 for a beer and $1.50 for hot dogs and small soft drinks. Makes a family outing much cheaper at Chase Field than almost any other park. Their food selection was also impressive. I saw everything from TCBY and ColdStone to FatBurger to Subway. This was also the first baseball game where the vendors chanted, “Get your Rice Crispies here!”
If you have a big group you can reserve the section with the pool in right center…that’s right…pool. Get your swimsuits and sunscreen and watch some baseball poolside. I was jealous.
As far as ballpark details, the seats were all tilted towards home plate and their scoreboard was very descriptive. It was the first time I have ever seen captions for what the announcer is saying…but then again this is only park 4 of the trip and 7 that I have seen in my lifetime. It also gave an updated inning summary in case you’re too busy looking in the nose bleeds above home plate to see which flag the clearly ex- baton/flag twirler was spinning. The amount of time she spent spinning those flags was quite impressive, given her age. Apparently her name is Cindy and she is there almost every game, even though she was all alone in her section. They also had an epic pre game trailer that got fans excited to watch Diamondback baseball. We got to see one game with the roof covered because the day game was pretty hot, and the night game with the roof open. The park is beautiful both ways. I even got a little chilly when the roof was covered.
After the Rangers lost the first game but gave us an exciting 9th inning, we had a couple hours to kill at the street fair. For the kids there was a bounce house type batting cage and pitch throwing extravaganza. And, for those of age there was a beer garden complete with outside draught beer and drinking game. We would have owned at corn hole, just sayin’. Instead, we decided to save the crowd the humiliation of losing to us and headed to the Legends bar about a block away. Great decision. This was the perfect in between double header game hangout. It had a great selection of craft brews, and I love to try new beer. Kiltlifter from the Arizona Four Peaks Brewing Company is one of my favorites, when I realized they had it on tap my exact words to the bartender were “I love you right now.” But, because I always have to try something new, we also tried their Peach Ale…it was fantastic. The place was packed and we were quoted 45 minutes for a table. Luckily, the patio was large and active…we found a good spot out there and met some really awesome people. One who played soccer with Ian Kinsler as a little boy.
Considering there was a double header there were no ballpark tours we could attend. But, thanks to my friend RJ, we got connected with their tour department. With the fan friendly environment they have, Bryan White was more than happy to take us on to the field for pictures after the game, and was patient as we asked questions and picked his brain. This proves their dedication to their “Find A Way To Say Yes” attitude, because I’m sure everyone at that park was exhausted after such a long day. Bryan told me that the president of the Dbacks Derrick Hall is the one who has set out with the mission to make the team so fan friendly. I emailed him and told him I thought he has done a great job. Staying true to his mission, he returned my email and invited me back…very cool of him. The last thing Mr. White told me about was the sedona red seat located in the left field section. There was a season ticket owner who wasn’t too happy with the decision to change the Dbacks colors a couple years ago. He was well known and adamant that the new color was “just red” as opposed to the Sedona Red the team calls it. After he passed away his seat was painted red.
I had an absolute blast in Phoenix, as I did the last time I was there. The fan based culture the Dbacks have created is one of a kind. They truly believe that the fans are the most important and that there would be no baseball without them. Fans fall so much in love with the game and their players and teams and contribute to baseball’s great story.