Sunday, September 28, 2008

Arizona, Day 2 - The Diamondbacks Win With a Walk-off...Walk?

The front exterior of Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona

We woke up this morning to a hot day in Phoenix. After we showered and dressed, we found an IHOP and ate breakfast. I was famished because my stomach was still on Eastern time and believed it to be well after lunchtime. And then we wandered over to downtown Phoenix to look for Chase Field so we could catch the Diamondbacks game versus the Colorado Rockies. Thanks to my handy dandy Verizon Wireless navigation system on my cell phone, we found the stadium rather easily. It was still about three hours before game time, so parking was easy to find. As a matter of fact, we parked about 2 blocks away from the stadium for a measly $10! Boy, this is a far cry from catching a game at Yankee Stadium.

The gates weren't scheduled to open until around 11 a.m., so we walked around the outside of the stadium and explored our surroundings.

Giant bats outside of Chase Field

On the outside, the stadium isn't so impressive, in my humble opinion. It resembles a warehouse or an airplane hangar.


The inside, however, is magnificent! We entered the gates and rode the escalator up to the 300 level.

Looking down on the Chase Field grounds

There are some beautiful murals painted in the hallways of the stadium.

One of several murals that are painted on the hallway walls

The field is beautiful. The temperature in Phoenix today was around 102 degrees, so the roof was closed, and the A/C kept the indoor temperature to a perfect 75 degrees.

The full view from Sec 317 Row F Seat 11

Randy Johnson was the starting picture for the Diamondbacks season finale today. On a personal level, I do not care for him. However, as a baseball fan, I cannot deny his phenomenal talent; it was very exciting to watch him pitch in person. We ended up watching a real pitcher's duel between Johnson and the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez. As a matter of fact, the Rockies were winning 1-0 (thanks to a Rockies baserunner that reached base because of a throwing error by the D-backs' third basemen) up until the bottom of the 8th inning. I thought it would be a terrible shame for Johnson to pitch such a great game but to still take the loss. Chris Young came through for Johnson, however, and hit a 1-run HR in the bottom of the 8th inning. The D-backs fans LOVE Randy Johnson. They were rooting hard for him to earn win #295.

Johnson pitches to Clint Barmes

After he pitched the top of the 9th, Johnson walked back to the dugout and was met with a thunderous ovation. The crowd cheered louder and louder until Johnson emerged from the dugout to tip his hat.

The D-backs managed to load the bases in the bottom of the 9th. Chris Young was the hero again---he worked a walk off of Luis Vizcaino, and the winning run scored.

Chris Young watches game-winning ball four come across the plate.

Understandably, the D-backs were excited to win a close game, and they celebrated. The 45-year-old Johnson pitched a complete game. His final line read 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, and 9 strikeouts. Wow. Not bad for a 45-year-old, eh?

The Diamondbacks celebrate

The Diamondback fans are great. I saw signs that read "We still love our D-backs", "We'll be back next year", and "We love you whether you're #1 or #2". These fans showed a lot of unconditional support. We Yankee fans could learn something from them.

Leaving Chase Field was just as easy as getting to it. Within 15 minutes, we were on the road towards Flagstaff, which is about 150 miles north of Phoenix. We stopped by a Walmart on our way. Kelley needed a new suitcase (the wheels were broken on her old one), and I needed a new backpack ( a cat peed in mine sometime, apparently, right before I packed it. I suspect it was Gus retaliating for my failed attempt to drag him from underneath my bed on Friday for a trip to the vet). We were treated to a beautiful and scenic drive as we climbed about 4000 ft up into the mountains of northern Arizona. When we left Phoenix, the temperature was 99 degrees F. By the time we reached Flagstaff, it had dropped to 59 degrees.

A sunset from one of our stops on I-17 North

We were both pretty hungry at this point, so we checked into our motel and headed out immediately to grab some dinner. We found the main drag in Flagstaff and after a quick stop in Walgreen's (I discovered that Motel 6 doesn't provide hair dryers in the rooms, so I wanted to buy a small travel-sized one), we found a local joint called Stromboli's . We ordered a NY style pizza with pepperoni and fresh garlic, and it was delicious! We then headed back to the motel to crash and try to get a good night's sleep. We see the Grand Canyon tomorrow!

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