Author Archive

All-Star Buzz Begins at Chase Field

When the Arizona Diamondbacks returned home from a disastrous road trip where they went just 2-8, there didn’t seem to be anything to look forward to for the final six home games of the season.

The Diamondbacks must have sensed the malaise of its fan base. The team took the 10-game road trip to do a little housekeeping at Chase Field to begin to build excitement to 2011 and especially the fact that Phoenix will be hosting the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star game.

Almost as soon as you walk through the turnstiles you will notice the changes. Hanging high above home plate attached to the rafters of Chase Field is a banner depicting the 2011 All-Star game logo.

I have no idea what the actual dimensions of this banner are, but the thing is huge.

It has been interesting watching the fans reactions when they first see this banner. The most common response is, “Whoa! Where did that come from?”

That is typically followed by questions of how long it had been hanging there as if they had somehow missed this gigantic sign all season.


Besides the banner above home plate, there is other All-Star logo signage around Chase Field. Behind the plate next to the batter’s eye suite are smaller signs that appear on camera whenever a player is warming up in the on-deck circle for either the home team or the visiting team.

Other signs appear on the concourse above the left field bleachers, and prominently at the entrance to the Sandlot children’s area in the upper deck.

It is not just signs that are new; the Diamondbacks have also begun adding memorabilia from prior All-Star games.

In the rotunda of the main concourse next to the display of the 2001 World Series trophy, the Diamondbacks have placed the Diamondbacks Statue of Liberty figure from the 2008 All-Star Game.


This statue, which is nearly nine feet in height, was one of 42 statues that were displayed around New York City prior to the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium in July 2008.

Unless you were fortunate enough to be in New York that summer, this may be your only opportunity to see this.

Traveling to the upper deck you will find the Sandlot kids area, which includes playground toys as well as batting cages and other activities for the kids.

Adjacent to the play area for the very small children is a Arizona Diamondbacks statue from the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim, Calif.

Like the Statue of Liberty, the Mickey statues were displayed around town leading up to the All-Star game at Angels Stadium this past July. Like Lady Liberty, Mickey is also decorated in Arizona Diamondbacks colors and logos.

These statues have proven popular during their three days of appearance. Fans are constantly standing admiring these items or having their pictures taken with them.

The signs and figures are having their intended impact. Fans are talking about the 2011 season and in particular the All-Star game that is coming to Phoenix.

The crowd is buzzing with excitement for what next year holds for this organization and for baseball.

Read more MLB news on

Arizona Diamondbacks: The End Is Near After 2-8 Road Trip

Despair and tragedy are usually just one or two relievers away when talking about the Arizona Diamondbacks. This fact was validated over the past road trip in which the Diamondbacks went 2-8, getting swept by the Colorado Rockies and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Watching your team go winless versus an opponent is never easy. It’s bad enough when that opponent is a divisional foe such as the Rockies, but you can at least justify it by rationalizing that the Rockies are the hottest team in baseball.

When your favorite team gets swept in a three-game series against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, it is much harder to swallow. I’d love to say that the Pirates too have been on fire but the fact is before the series against the Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh had lost seven of their last eight games.

Just when you think that this team could not possibly get any more inconsistent, they invent new ways to prove you wrong. Today, the Diamondbacks have an off-day before beginning their final home stand of the season.

I’d love to expound on how this off-day would be beneficial to allow the team to clear their heads and prepare for a tough six games against the Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I’m not really sure I believe that any more.

Perhaps more importantly, having a day off could help Diamondbacks fans be a little less suicidal. After 75 sometimes gut-wrenching home games, some of these fans are definitely standing out on the ledge.

As I was driving to work today I went past a guy standing on a corner with a sign that said, “The End is Near.” I nodded in agreement—there are just six home games left.

I couldn’t help but think back over the past five months. Granted, there have been times I too wanted to give up but then I would go to another game and things wouldn’t look quite that bad.

None of us expected to be at this point in the season staring a 59-91 record in the face, but sometimes that happens. Instead of lamenting of all that went wrong, I’m going to try and stay positive.

There were a few bright points that occurred this year. After a disastrous 2009, center fielder Chris Young bounced back and had one of his most productive years. His hard work paid off in July when he was named the Diamondbacks’ sole All-Star representative.

The struggles of Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson may have been depressing but their trades in July allowed us to look into a future that looks rather bright for right-handers Barry Enright and Daniel Hudson.

Going into the season, no one knew what to expect from Ian Kennedy in his first full season in the Major Leagues. He has shown why the Diamondbacks insisted on his inclusion in any trade discussions.

Second baseman Kelly Johnson has rebounded nicely from a subpar year in Atlanta last season. He may have cooled down from his April totals but he still was able to set career highs for home runs.

So while the end may be near, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to look forward to. After all, spring training is only 148 days away.

Read more MLB news on

Arizona Diamondbacks: Arg, Matey! We Be Losing Again

In June 1995, two friends John Baur and Mark Summers were playing a racquetball game. One of them was hit with a ball and screamed in pain with an outburst of “Aaarrr!” that sounded very much like a pirate movie. The two men hatched an idea.

What if they could create a holiday where everyone talked like a pirate for one day? They chose September 19 as the date since it was Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday (how appropriate). International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) was born.

It began as an inside joke between two friends but gained coverage after Summers wrote a letter to humor columnist Dave Berry. Berry loved the idea and began to promote it. With the advent of social networking on the Internet, ITLAPD has gained popularity.

It is mostly a parody holiday concocted for fun but sometimes there are other implications. Looking at the Arizona Diamondbacks schedule it seemed somewhat fitting that the Diamondbacks would play the Pittsburgh Pirates on ITLAPD.

I found myself torn. Do I dress like a traditional pirate and take on the linguistic musings of a pirate or do I wear Sedona Red thumbing my nose at ITLAPD and root for Arizona to overcome a two-game losing streak ending a dreadful road trip?

As a loyal Diamondbacks fan, I chose the latter. With the game scheduled for this morning, I awoke early putting on my jersey, opening a bag of peanuts, and settling into my recliner for a day of baseball.

Daniel Hudson was on the mound, and he has been dominant since coming over from the Chicago White Sox. If anyone could get the team out of a losing streak it would be Hudson.

I knew I was in trouble in the bottom of the first inning when Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Hudson. “AAARRR!” I screamed at the television suddenly empathizing with Summers when he was hit with the racquetball 15 years ago.

My spirits were lifted in the fourth inning when the Diamondbacks scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead. I briefly considered calling my wife a wench and doing some pillaging and plundering but did not want to get too far ahead of myself.

Looking back that was a wise decision. After Hudson left the game in the seventh inning, the bullpen was asked to get the final eight outs of the game. If 2010 has taught us anything, it is never to rely on the bullpen.

Reliever Sam Demel entered in the seventh inning and induced a double play to the first hitter he faced to retire the Pirates. In celebration, I poured myself a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal complete with red and purple crunch berries.

I may have just jinxed the game. It started off well enough with the Diamondbacks adding a run in the top of the eighth to give them a 3-1 lead. Surely the bullpen can maintain a two-run lead?

Aaron Heilman came in to work the bottom of the eighth before turning the game over to Juan Gutierrez to close it down in the ninth. Unfortunately it never got that far.

Ronny Cedeno hit an infield single that dribbled to third baseman Mark Reynolds. After striking out Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen comes up and singles to center field putting men on first and third with one out.

A double-play ball would get the Diamondbacks out of this predicament. Jose Tabata hit a shot down the third base line that was miraculously snagged by Mark Reynolds who threw to second. The Diamondbacks could not turn the double play, and Cedeno scored making the score 3-2.

With two outs, the Diamondbacks needed just one out to maintain the lead. Before I could even put down the spoon in my Cap’n Crunch, Gutierrez gave up a home run to Neil Walker to dead center field.

Just like that the lead and the game was blown like a cannon ball to the hull of a ship. It could not have been any worse if pirates had commandeered my ship and stolen all of my cargo.

It is times like this I wish I had two eye patches just so I didn’t have to watch the bullpen blow another game. I began cursing like a pirate that would make even a sailor blush.

They say dead men tell no tales; I wonder if the same can be said about bad relievers? About the only thing that could make me feel any better would be if Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson would have made the relievers walk the plank.

Read more MLB news on

Arizona Diamondbacks Call Up Konrad Schmidt

In what is likely the final September call-up, the Arizona Diamondbacks purchased the contract of Konrad Schmidt from the Double-A Mobile BayBears. Schmidt, who was with the Diamondbacks in spring training, left a very favorable impression with the coaching staff.

Everyone was impressed with Schmidt’s poise behind the plate and how he handled the pitching staff. Add to this the fact that he posted good offensive numbers while with the BayBears and Schmidt earned a late season call.

While in Double-A, Schmidt hit .315 in 107 games driving in 65 runs including hitting 11 home runs. Almost more important Schmidt struck out only 63 times. That may seem a tad high but considering he had 124 hits the hit to strikeout ratio is much better than the current players on the Diamondbacks roster.

Schmidt becomes the third catcher on the Diamondbacks roster behind starter Miguel Montero and backup Jon Lester. Interim manager Kirk Gibson has requested another catcher to give him some flexibility late in the game.

Schmidt would have been called up earlier but the Mobile BayBears were involved in the Southern League playoffs and were not eliminated until Sunday night.

After a loss and an extended bus ride back to Mobile, Schmidt was notified of his call to the big leagues. He quickly packed his things and rushed to the airport to catch a flight to Cincinnati.

Arriving just before batting practice, Schmidt had a whirlwind day that ended with the culmination of a lifelong dream, to be a Major League baseball player. He did not have to wait long before seeing game action.

In the ninth inning Schmidt pinch hit for pitcher Juan Gutierrez walking in his only at-bat. So while he is still waiting for his first major league hit he should be content knowing his on base percentage is 1.000. Congratulations Konrad, and best of luck in what everyone hopes is a long and successful career.

Read more MLB news on

Arizona Diamondbacks Call Up Outfielder Cole Gillespie

Since September 1st, the Diamondbacks have had two waves of call-ups, or bringing members of their minor league clubs to the major league level. The first wave was the largest, bringing on four players (Tony Abreu, Brandon Allen, Carlos Rosa, and Leo Rosales). The second wave saw Arizona add two players (Zach Kroenke and Mike Hampton).

Indications were these would be the only additions to the roster. It was therefore surprising to arrive at Chase Field before last night’s game and see outfielder Cole Gillespie in uniform and warming up.

Gillespie has had two stints with the Diamondbacks this season with some levels of success. He has played well defensively while struggling during his last appearance with the Diamondbacks.

I had expected to see Gillespie on September 1st, but he seemed to be the forgotten player being left in Reno while others were called up to Phoenix. With Allen now getting time in the outfield as well as first base, you had to wonder whether Gillespie was still in the mix for a roster spot next season.

He may not have received an invitation back to the big leagues were it not for the injury Justin Upton received tweaking his shoulder during an at bat. Upton has been out of the line-up for seven games, and according to reports, his shoulder is not responding to treatment.

Rather than playing down an outfielder, the Diamondbacks recalled Gillespie to fill in until the team knows more about Upton’s injury.

After an MRI, team doctors do not believe the shoulder is structurally different than it was when Upton arrived at the major leagues in 2006. That is not to say there is no damage, just no more damage in the past four years.

Upton’s brother BJ had a similar shoulder issue and went under surgery to repair damage to his labrum. Team officials are not suggestion Justin have something similar, but if his shoulder does not get any better over the next week, there may be further discussions going into the offseason.

In the meantime, Gillespie received a return trip to Chase Field. It will be up to him to make the most of this opportunity and show team officials he belongs on the roster going into Spring Training 2011.

Read more MLB news on

Diamondbacks Have Winning Month

The Arizona Diamondbacks begin a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field tonight. These two teams met a week ago at Petco Park with the Padres winning the first two games of the series before dropping the finale.

The Diamondbacks’ win in that third game marked their first win this season in San Diego. Since that time the Diamondbacks went on to take two out of three from the San Francisco Giants while the Padres were swept at home by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Diamondbacks went a respectable 3-3 on their latest road trip. For a team that is a paltry 22-43 on the road, a .500 road trip is grounds for celebration. It wasn’t just this trip that has Diamondbacks fans excited.

Regardless of what happens over the next two nights, the Arizona Diamondbacks are guaranteed to have a winning record for the month of August. The worst they can finish is 15-14 if they lose tonight and tomorrow.

For a team that is 27 games under .500, there is not a lot to look forward to other than a winning percentage for a given month. To put this into perspective, the last time the Arizona Diamondbacks had a winning record for a month it was August 2009, exactly a year ago.

So while this may not be the kind of news that will set the town to dancing in the streets, it is a positive direction. Something we have not had in a very long time.

Read more MLB news on

Diamondbacks Considering Changes to Chase Field

In an article first reported by Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks beat writer for the Arizona Republic, team officials admitted they are considering changes to Chase Field that would change the way the stadium plays.

It is no secret that Chase Field has long been a hitter’s paradise. The ball seems to fly out of Chase Field faster than a four-dollar beer on a 110-degree afternoon game.

And if the roof happens to be open, the ball flies even further, averaging roughly 10 more feet of flight.

This is not a new phenomenon; hitters have always had an advantage at Chase Field.

The reasons have been attributed to the high elevation, thin warm air, and low humidity typical of a summer day in Arizona.

Few people realize that Chase Field is actually the second highest elevation ballpark in Major League Baseball behind only Coors Field in Denver. The air pressure is less dense as altitude increases giving the ball less wind resistance than a ball hit at sea level.

Temperature also plays a factor in the way the ball carries. A typical summer day in Arizona will see temperatures well over 100 degrees. Even with the roof closed and air conditioning, the temperatures are in the high 80’s in the air above the playing surface.

While no one is attributing the air conditioning to how the ball flies, you have to wonder what effect it has. The majority of the air conditioning vents are at the back of the seating areas.

With most of the seating areas behind the plate and down the lines, this means the air conditioning is blowing out to the outfield.

Common sense would suggest this would be similar to the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Perhaps not as brisk as wind blowing towards Lake Michigan, but it should still be a factor adding a few feet to the travel of the ball.

So if the field has been hitter-friendly for the past 13 years, why consider changes now? Diamondbacks CEO/President Derrick Hall suggested the team is being built on young pitching and defense.

If that is the case, why wouldn’t they want to make changes to the ballpark to protect the team’s strengths?

The suggested changes are interesting. One suggestion, which at first seems rather drastic, is modifying the playing field dimensions. The team is considering moving the left and right field fences back approximately 10 feet.

The right field fence would be rather easy to adjust to an extent. There is approximately 10 feet beyond the current outfield fence that is used for handicapped seating and as a walkway for those in the swimming pool area.

That space could be eliminated with the outfield fence now being the much taller bleacher fence. The swimming pool in right-center would be a problem.

Plans would be to leave the pool area undisturbed, making the field even more asymmetrical with a 10-foot jut-out now being in play.

Adjusting the left field fence would be more problematic. The team would have to remove five or six rows of seats in the left-field bleachers to move the wall back.

By removing the seats, it would reduce seating capacity and would also increase the height of the wall, since the remaining seats would start higher than the current front row of the bleacher.

The natural question to be asked is how many home runs are barely clearing the left and right field walls? A trip over to the great reference site Hit Tracker allows us to look at spray charts of where home runs have landed at Chase Field.

Looking at the graph for Chase Field for 2010 we can see changes to the left field bleachers could have a substantial effect on the number of home runs.

Several this season have landed in the first few rows which, with the fences extended, may have been long outs.

The 2010 graph is consistent with other seasons of data gathered by Hit Tracker, leading credence to Hall’s suggestion that home run totals could be significantly reduced with a minor change to the outfield walls.

The other suggested change was the installation of a humidor at Chase Field to store baseballs in a climate-controlled area until used in the game. The humidor would eliminate the effects of dry warm air on the baseball.

The use of a humidor is not new. The Colorado Rockies have been using such a device since 2002. The MLB Commissioner’s Office has studied the effects and were at one time considering instituting the use of a humidor at all stadiums.

In the past I’ve suggested using a humidor at Chase Field to level the playing field for pitchers as well as hitters. Some have claimed using a humidor to adjust characteristics of the ball is cheating.

I question that thinking. The temperature and humidity levels introduced with a humidor bring the ball into compliance with the conditions in place when the baseballs are manufactured.

It could be argued not using a humidor is cheating since teams are adapting the baseball to local conditions rather than what the ball was designed and developed to operate.

All of these measures are designed to eliminate the advantages of the hitter at Chase Field. While I applaud the team’s thinking, I wonder whether these changes would have a positive effect for the team.

Neutralizing the field would mean less home runs and fewer runs generated by both the opposing team and the home team.

When a team is winning, that may not be a bad thing since the stands tend to be fuller when the team is having a winning season.

But what about years such as this season and last when the team is playing sub-par baseball? What then? Would fans be winning to sit through a losing season when the home team is unable to score and there are fewer home runs?

If 1998, taught us anything it is that the casual baseball fan loves to see home runs. Even in cases where a team is losing game after game, if they can see someone hit a bomb that flies 480 feet to regions of the stadium thought untouchable, it breeds excitement.

Perhaps the Diamondbacks should consider incremental changes when adjusting the playability of Chase Field.

Add the humidor and have instructional league games played at Chase Field with balls stored in the humidor and those not and gauge what effect it has on playability.

This may not be so drastic a change and yet still bring Chase Field into a more neutral range.

At the same time the minor league pitching staff needs to work with the Diamondbacks’ young pitchers to teach them how to keep the ball down in the strike zone, which would be a far cry from what we have seen this season.

Read more MLB news on

2010 Arizona Diamondbacks Mirror 1998 Expansion Team

For all intents and purposes, the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks have been a disappointment. There have been high points such as the no-hitter by Edwin Jackson on June 25, 2010 and the emergence of young pitching such as Ian Kennedy and Barry Enright, but overall, the team has failed to live up to expectations.

No one expected that the 2010 team would not only fail to be competitive for the National League West, but would actually be worse than the 2009 team that finished in last place, 25 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There is enough blame to fill Chase Field. Whether it be injuries to key personnel at the wrong time or the failure of players to live up to expectations, this season has been a disaster. But how bad has it really been?

The Diamondbacks are currently 50-78 with 34 games remaining in the season. In order to finish where the 2009 team ended, Arizona would have to go 20-14 for the remainder of the season. That does not seem out of reach, but given the opponents they face in the final month of the season, that might be too much to ask.

It is inevitable that the Diamondbacks will finish with a losing record. To avoid that, they would have to go 31-3 to finish at .500. While I would love to see that kind of finish, it’s clearly unobtainable.

In a fit of boredom, I began tracking the Diamondbacks’ historical game results. I plotted these results on a line graph to show how each season unfolded. What I found most interesting was not that the 2010 Diamondbacks are well below last season at this juncture, but how closely this season compares to the 1998 inaugural season.

The two lines nearly match game for game, wins and losses over the past month. The difference being that the 2010 Diamondbacks are one win better this season than they were the first year of existence.

I remember that first year and how excited we were to have baseball in Phoenix, and how well the Diamondbacks were doing for an expansion team. The goal that year was to finish with less than 100 losses, a noble goal for a new franchise.

The Diamondbacks would finish that season with a record of 65-97, making them the sixth-best expansion team in Major League Baseball history. That 65th win occurred in the second-to-last game of the season, and I remember celebrating the accomplishment.

Now 12 years later, the team is on a near-equal path. They are scrambling to try and find a way to win at least 63 games in the season to eliminate any chance of losing 100 times for only the second time in franchise history.

The difference, of course, is the level of talent on that 1998 squad versus the 2010 team. This year, they have a lot more potential, and the skills at nearly every position are better this year than they were in 1998. That’s probably what makes this season so frustrating. The Diamondbacks should be better than they are showing on the field.

For the next 34 games, all we have left to cheer is hoping the team goes at least 15-19 so they can at least be better than they were during the inaugural season. It’s sad we are left hoping the team plays just under .500 ball for the rest of the season.

Read more MLB news on

Roster Expansion Via Contraction

September 1st represents the date that rosters expand from 25 to 40 men. Teams fall into two categories when contemplating who should be called up. Teams going to the postseason use these call-ups to give their players, especially pitchers, a break to keep them fresh for the playoffs.

The second camp are those teams who have all but been eliminated from the playoffs. These teams use the final month of the season to give their rookies playing time. This gives the organization a chance to evaluate players in game situations to decide whether they fit within the team’s plans for next year and beyond.

The 2010 Diamondbacks fit squarely in the second category. The current roster has played so poorly that change is inevitable. The only question is who will be returning next season and who will be gone?

In order for a player to be called up he must be listed on a team’s 49-man roster. With the Diamondbacks, that opens up a whole lot of questions and potentially some drama.

The first domino to drop happened on Tuesday when Arizona released infielder Bobby Crosby. This was somewhat surprising since Crosby has been with the team less than a month coming over in the Chris Snyder trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Diamondbacks recalled Ryan Roberts. It was surprising only because the expectation was for Tony Abreu to return. It is likely that the Diamondbacks want to evaluate Roberts to see if he fits with the team’s plans while Abreu is assumed to have a lock on a roster spot.

It is likely that Abreu will be called up next week. Others likely to be called up include first baseman Brandon Allen and outfielder Cole Gillespie; both of whom have spent time with the Diamondbacks this year.

Some of the more intriguing questions surround the pitching staff. The Diamondbacks signed veteran pitcher Mike Hampton to a minor league deal earlier in the week. He is expected to join the bullpen.

Hampton is not on the 40-man roster. The Diamondbacks have only 38 on the roster so they could use one of the two open spots.

Brandon Webb is still claiming that he will pitch this season. Webb is currently on the 60-day disabled list which does not count against the 40-man roster. If they want to activate him they will need to make room on the roster.

Word has it Leo Rosales is getting close to returning. He too is on the 60-day disabled list meaning a roster spot will need to be opened up if he returns.

Kris Benson, also on the 60-day disabled list, is on a rehabilitation assignment and could return needing another open roster spot.

There has also been a suggestion the Diamondbacks are planning to add a third catcher. There are only two catchers on the roster meaning to add another would require yet another open roster spot.

So the next week could prove interesting not just for the remainder of 2010 but for next season as well.

Read more MLB news on

The Retired Number 42 at Chase Field

After the Arizona Diamondbacks retired the number of Luis Gonzalez, I began receiving a lot of questions from fans visiting Chase Field asking who wore number 42 for the Diamondbacks and who it is hanging next to Gonzo’s number.

On the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the major-league color barrier, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig retired the number 42 throughout baseball. From that point forward no player could wear number 42 although players wearing that number at the time were allowed to continue wearing it until retirement. This occurred on April 15, 1997, nearly a year before the Arizona Diamondbacks would play their first game as a franchise.

As such, no player in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks has ever worn number 42. For years the Diamondbacks recognized this with a small baseball shaped sign hanging above right center field near the Miller Diamond Club sign.

On April 24th of this year the Diamondbacks removed the Jackie Robinson sign from where it had been hanging and replaced it with a large white and blue number adorning the façade above the party suites in right field.

This was done to bring consistency to the retired numbers in Chase Field. Number 42 was the only number listed until number 20 was added on August 7th for Luis Gonzalez. It is expected that the next number to be retired will be number 51 for Randy Johnson. No time table has been identified for this to occur but it is expected to be before 2015 when Johnson is eligible for the Hall of Fame induction.

So the number 42 hangs from the rafters like it does in every stadium throughout Major League Baseball as a tribute to the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson and will be the one number that is retired without anyone wearing it in franchise history.

Now you can impress your friends and guests at the next game by giving them the background of each of the two numbers that have been retired in Diamondbacks history and what they represent.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress