29 September 2009

Padres-Diamondbacks Fandemonium Game 9-26-09

Last weekend marked the end of the Arizona Diamondbacks home season at Chase Field, and I was there on Saturday to celebrate the teams successes and lament their failures (let's not kid ourselves, there were many) with the other fans during "Fandemonium" festivities. But I was also on a mission. I had received a ball from reliever Blaine Boyer at a previous game, and I had failed to get Miguel Montero's signature then. So my goal for the game was to get one big-name D-Backs player to give me their autograph.

First, though, I had business to take care of. I got to the ballpark early as I usually do for batting practice, and I got my fifth bobblehead of the year - Mark Reynolds (#27, 3B). I raced into the stadium right around the end of Diamondbacks batting practice, and I tried to get another ball from a player. Unfortunately, not many were being hit to my section of the field, so no luck. After BP concluded, most of the time, a few players will sign autographs down the left-field line, but that night it was Clay Zavada and Esmerling Vasquez, both of whom had already autographed balls/ticket stubs for my in the past.

Instead, I stuck to my guns and tried for more tossups/homers from the visiting Padres players. I actually had a really close play on TWO balls, a homer and a bouncer over the wall. Sadly, both were just out of reach (unless I wanted to jump on the guys standing next to me), so I came up empty-handed. I was also hoping that reliever Aaron Poreda would throw a ball in my direction. He did end up tossing a bunch of balls into the stands, and it was really fun to watch him go all-out to try to snag some of the long fly balls in left field, but alas, he really didn't throw anything near me.

So, 0-for-1,000,000 during BP, I decided my best option was to take a break and go get my Augie Ojeda bobblehead from the Picnic Pavillion in left. Augie's bobblehead was supposed to be given out on Sept. 26th, but it was moved up to Sept. 10th in place of the Tony Pena bobblehead, since Tony had been traded to the White Sox. Unfortunately, the bobblehead company was unable to ship the figures in time for the game, so vouchers were given out to the 25,000 fans who were supposed to get one, and they were finally available Sept. 26th. Two bobbleheads, one day... very cool!

After collecting my bobblehead, I wandered around the stadium, bought a couple scratch-off tickets from the vendors for the "Shirts Off Our D-Backs" promotion ($5 for three chances to win a game-used shirt from a DBacks player following Sunday's game). I didn't win a shirt, but I did win two free bleacher tickets to a 2010 home game... so it was cool! I kept wandering, a full lap around the concourse, and made it back to my section in time for the National Anthem and opening accoutrements, when I then saw a couple fellow DBacks fan friends of mine, April, Anya, and Julie, who were sitting in my section just a couple rows back. I went to chat with them, and stayed the whole time in that area.

The game itself was a doozy! The snakes scored three runs in the first inning, and Dan Haren kept the Pads at zero until the 5th, when they scored 5 runs. We snagged one back in the 6th, making it 5-4, but honestly, it wasn't looking good. We hit a couple batters, and things looked like they'd fall apart.... until the 8th inning. A walk, a hit batter, and a single loaded the bases for Chad Tracy, who blasted the Diamondbacks' third grand slam of the season into the pool area in right field (the prior two GS hitters were Chris Snyder on May 16th and Justin Upton on June 2nd). There was much celebration.

So finally, the game ended, my season of attending big league baseball games ended, and I still hadn't gotten my autograph. Humbug. But wait! I got a hot tip and an invitation from my friends to go join them at the players' stadium exit/entrance to see if anyone would stop to sign an autograph from their cars, and lo and behold, two did: Justin Upton and...

Mark Reynolds! YES! A star player from my final game of the year, on his bobblehead day! It totally made my night of effort all worthwhile! That brought my autograph collection to 8:

From bottom to top, left to right: [bottom row:] a Cubs minor league player from 1999 I'm still trying to ID, a commemorative ball from a D-Backs-Rockies game earlier this year, Glenn Sherlock (bullpen coach), [middle row:] Mark Grace (1B), Tom "Flash" Gordon (RP), Clay Zavada (RP), [top row:] Stephen Drew (SS, from Foz Sports AZ), Dan Haren (SP, from Fox Sports AZ), and Mark Reynolds (3B)! I also have a good-sized collection of bobbleheads and DBacks figures going:

[Bottom row:] Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Chris Snyder, Mark Reynolds, Augie Ojeda. [Middle row:] Brandon Webb, Conor Jackson, Chris Young. [Top row:] Luis Gonzalez figurine, D. Baxter soap dispenser figurine.

Can't wait for more baseball next year, though I will continue blogging about the postseason and about Arizona Fall League baseball until then!

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