Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14- Arizona Diamondbacks

Today was kind of interesting. The newly acquired short season-A club the Hillsboro Hops were holding an open casting call for jobs over the summer and I figured why not give it a shot. It’s been a solid 13 years since I last worked for a professional baseball team at which all of that time came on the field as the bat boy for the Bakersfield Blaze. As cool as it would be to work in a clubhouse again, the title of bat boy doesn’t seem fitting for a man of my age; let alone for the fact that I can grow a manlier beard than any of the guys on the team. I printed my resume off, hiked down the road, caught a bus and I was there. I dropped off my resume, answered a few questions and as quickly as I got there I was on my way out again. It almost feels like it didn’t even happen at all. I had worn a hat inside and made sure to take it off before I walked through the door. Without even realizing it the hat I had chosen to wear and write about today is in fact the Major League affiliate of the team I interviewed with. Since 2001 the Yakima Bears, now Hops, have been an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks as members of the Northwest League. As I just mentioned, my hat choice today came more out of a spot in the rotation and had little to do with whom I was being interviewed by.

I picked this bad boy up while I was in Florida visiting my girlfriend Angie Kinderman (@sconnieangie). The online shop for Major League Baseball was running a huge sale on the last of the Stars and Stripes hats from 2012 left in their inventory so I made sure to get as many teams as I possibly could. I preferred the black one, but unfortunately they didn’t have my size so I rolled with the brick red to fulfill my goal of obtaining at least one from every team. In the past few years the Diamondbacks have been one the few teams to show a constant deal of support for the troops, which is something I take a lot of pride in considering the fact that my stepfather spent a good chunk of his life in Arizona before and after his time with the Army Special Forces.

At the forefront of all of this attention in paying tribute to the troops is the Diamondbacks’ mascot, Baxter. For those who don’t know, D. Baxter the Bobcat was unveiled to the world on June 23, 2000, at Chase Field. The idea for the mascot came from Brantley Bell, son of former second baseman Jay Bell, who explained to his dad that the team should have a "BOB" cat as a mascot since the team played in the BOB (Bank One Ballpark). Bell informed management about his son's idea and Baxter was born. Pretty cool if you ask me.

As far as Memorial Day games are concerned I was only able to find one consistent pattern in the 15 possible games the Diamondbacks could have played on this date. Their record is a blow average 6-8 with one game off in 2005; however, the only thing that I was able to uncover is that the Diamondbacks are 1-0 I the World Series anytime they beat the San Francisco Giants on Memorial Day. Yah, this stat is a bit farfetched, but not really. The Diamondbacks have played the Giants on Memorial Day four times (2001, 2002, 2004 and 2012). In that span the Diamondbacks are 1-3, but in that one year, with that one win they did end up going on to win the World Series. The one thing I can tell you is that the Diamondbacks are playing the Texas Rangers this year, so don’t go rushing to Las Vegas to lay a bet down just yet. But be sure to keep an eye out for when the Giants and Diamondbacks meet up again on Memorial Day and be sure to have your money ready if the Diamondbacks win.

When trying to come up with numbers for this hat I figured it was probably best to just use the last two paragraphs as a lead-in. So, here they are…

#1: It took me a bit to track this down, but I did find out that Baxter’s jersey number is in fact #1. Kind of an odd thing to try and find a picture of, to be honest. How often does a person take a photo of the back of a mascot? Anyway, back in October of 2012 I had been contemplating a few more mascot-related tattoo ideas when I remembered a conversation I had with the person who runs Baxter’s Twitter account (@DBacksBaxter) from December I believe. The one thing I should point out with this conversation is that it all happened when Baxter went down to an ankle injury during an event. I had sent him some well-wishes and he suggested that I get a tattoo of himself on me since I had the original batting practice logo of the snake tattooed on me. Based on my desire to get all of the mascots inked on me I just couldn’t argue his logic. Kind of weird to get such an insight from a mascot. Hmmmmm… anyway, I scoured through photos trying to find something that was really fitting as every tattoo that I have has some sort of deeper back story to it. Of all the photos that I kept running across the ones that made the most sense was Baxter in military camouflage from his visits to military bases over the years. My stepfather’s time in the Army also played a big part in my decision, but there really wasn’t anything telling me not to do it. So, on a cold Tuesday in January my tattoo artist, Felix the Tat, and I made it happen.

I hadn’t really done anything patriotic with any of my tattoos. Even in the one case where I really could have with Screech, the Washington Nationals mascot, I still put it in a Montreal Expos uniform. I have a great deal of respect for any individual, let alone team, who dedicates so much of their time for the amusement and celebration of others. So to you Baxter, I tip my cap… and have you forever etched on my body in full support the troops mode.

5/27/13: Yes, I have gone into the future and all ready paid tribute to a moment that all of you will finally witness in less than two weeks. Actually, I looked ahead in the schedule and caught something that very few of you probably did. In my previous Stars and Stripes posts I mentioned how a few teams ended up playing doubleheaders on Memorial Days as part of make-ups for missed games earlier in the season. Well, the Diamondbacks have gone and blown the minds of the baseball realm; the purposely scheduled a doubleheader on Memorial Day. This sort of practice, pre-scheduling doubleheaders, is not new. In fact, the Diamondbacks did it last season and had such success with it they decided to do it again; this time with the two-game series they have with the Rangers on May 27th.

Of all the things in baseball I’ve ever wanted to be a part of, a doubleheader is definitely on my list. I missed the Oakland Athletics double-dip against the Los Angeles Angels back in 2011 and I’ve been patiently awaiting another chance. In the case of the Diamondbacks something like this should never happen. By that I mean they play in a stadium with a retractable roof; therefore, there is nothing to really keep them from playing a regularly scheduled game. But, leave it to the people in charge to find a way to heighten the fan experience on a day in which we celebrate those who have fought and lost their lives for our country. I’m not being sarcastic. I seriously think this is a great activity for the holiday. Because what’s more American, and a better way to celebrate those who we remember for their brave sacrifice, than baseball? Nothing.

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