As for the apartment, well, it feels like home a bit more now. I have had to pay rent and Internet bills (gasp!), so I'm getting the full experience.... And trust me, spending $700-plus on rent for the first time is a bit of a shock to the system when you haven't paid for very much that's that expensive before! But we have a nice setup. My brother's got a nice television which is HD-capable, and we've been watching the Diamondbacks games here. We also have a couch and a recliner, as well as our computers, a desk, and the other normal amenities. The place is not cluttered with stuff, though. It's just right.
Aside from that, obviously lately I've continued to go to my Diamondbacks games. In addition to the weekend games I got from the DBacks Scholarship, I also had a great time about three weeks ago with Scott, Travis, and Matt watching batting practice from the field behind the batting cage. It was a vastly different experience than watching from the stands, especially in the outfield where I like to be to try to catch baseballs.
(From left to right, that's Matt, Scott, Travis, and me.)
We got to meet Ryan Roberts, who signed a couple baseballs for us, and we had a generally good time. Roberts, by the way, sounds nothing like you would expect. It was weird, in a good way.
The week after that, I took my friends Nate and Ryan to another game where I got to spend an inning in the Diamondbacks' broadcast booth alongside Mark Grace and Daron Sutton. I was allowed to bring only one of them, so Ryan went with me. THAT WAS AWESOME! At the third inning of the game, we went up through the press corridors, which apparently not many fans get to do (my passes were special as a raffle prize from the Diamondbacks Foundation) and got to stand in a little area to the left of the broadcasters while they called the game. Between the top and the bottom of the third, while there was a commercial break, they both came and shook our hands and asked where we were from and how we liked what the Diamondbacks were doing this season. Mark Grace also signed two baseballs for us. It was just unspeakably cool... I'll probably never have another chance to do that again! Here... photos:
First, a view of the field from the press box. I'd be perfectly fine having this view every day....
Next, a photo of the booth itself. The people in the photo are (closest to me) the broadcasters' statistician and scorer on the very right of the photo, then Daron Sutton and Mark Grace sitting, and a broadcast crew member behind them. In the next booth over, you can see Greg Schulte and Tom Candiotti, who do the radio broadcasts!
Did anyone notice what Mark Grace was doing in the above photo? That's right.... signing my baseball!
The wall we were standing next to in the booth was a veritable who's who of celebrities, former players, part-owners... all the cool people who had been up there for interviews. We saw, notably, Luis Gonzalez' autograph and Billy Crystal's signature (he was once a part-owner of the Diamondbacks).
The booth is on the second level of the stadium so this is mostly just a shot of the stadium, the baseball writers' area, and the stands, but I think it turned out nicely.
Of course, it wouldn't have been complete without the obligatory photo with Mark Grace and the two of us.... And Mark was kind enough to pose with us quickly during the inning break!
That may very well qualify as the coolest thing I have ever been able to do at Chase Field. Right up there with winning all my tickets this year, and getting to go to the All-Star festivities! Right now, obviously, the DBacks are in the thick of protecting their seven game lead in the division over the Giants. It was so cool to be able to do, see, and interact with the players, broadcasters, and staff when the games really matter. There was a certain extra electricity about everything, which I don't think would have been as pervasive if I'd gotten to do all this stuff, say, last year when the team performed very poorly.
Since I'm on the topic of stuff that's been going on, last night I also attended the LD-15 meeting for the Republican Party. It was held at AZGOP headquarters, which is currently in the process of being rennovated. This was my first LD-15 meeting, and most of the people there was quite kind. They seemed a bit desperate for new precinct committeemen, going out of their way to twist my arm a bit about it, but I attribute that to a sense of needing more support in the heavily Democratic district. They had a trio of candidate speakers there last night. First was Susan Bitter-Smith, the Central Arizona Project president who is now running for Corporation Commission. She last ran for Congressional District 5 against multiple opponents and lost a couple years ago. In 2006, she also ran for CD-5, and I had a negative incident happen with her campaign, when, according to the information I have, someone who was involved somehow with her campaign slandered me and defamed my character. Last night, she did recognize me, but I didn't tell her from where.
The next speaker was one of the former Phoenix mayoral candidates, whom I was unfamiliar with, having just moved into the area. She was throwing her support behind Wes Gullett, who is in a runoff against Democrat Mike Stanton. I know little about either candidate right now, but I wasn't surprised to see the Republican candidate endorse the Republican... it's not as if she would have endorsed the Democrat.
The final speaker of the evening was Clair Van Steenwyk, also known as Van the Radio Man, a conservative/Christian radio host in the valley who has decided to run for US Senate against Jeff Flake and Wil Cardon. This guy was, to put it mildly, hyperconservative. A staunch, almost Libertarian, Tea Party member, Van Steenwyk acted last night more like a bitter, angry old man than a candidate for Senate. He denounced the GOP as being too accepting of people that weren't committed to repealing anything that wasn't explicitly in the US Constitution, and basically called anyone that didn't see things his "blunt" way a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I was offended by him, and it usually takes a lot for me to be offended by a politician. He called Flake and Cardon out for saying that they would "bury" his campaign, and he accused them of "buying the seat."
I want it formally said, right here, that I do not support this man for US Senate. I do not think he has the right demeanor, the right ideas, or the right ideology for the job of representing Arizona's interests in Congress. Sorry, Tea Party, but this level of extremism and hatred for members of our own party MUST STOP. I'm very tired of other Arizona Republicans thinking I'm an inferior conservative because I don't support this level of hyperrepublicanism.
That brings me up-to-date now. This weekend, I'm celebrating a birthday with some friends (Scott's daughter is turning one year old, and they're having a get together), and I may see a movie. I'm looking forward to checking out Contagion and getting wigged out by how easy it would be to spread a virus uncontrollably. Luckily, our movie theatre here is close to the grocery store, so I can buy lots of Purell when I get out.