So I’m doing these out of order, sue me. I’m a busy man. *sucks straw*.
So the long awaited day 2. This would be our baseball day, one of the two real reasons behind the trip in the first place. Most of you likely know I seek a new MLB park to see a game in every year as part of my goal to see all of them before I head to the great beyond. This day would start with a trip into the downtown Phoenix area to fulfill another of my many travel-related hobbies: food at a stop from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” This one would be Matt’s Big Breakfast, home of the breakfast pork chop and the “paid retail” thick-cut bacon. I need to tell you a couple things about this place, if your search for it brings you here. First, it’s very small. Because of this the lineup is very long. In fact, we’d wait over an hour outside for our chance to stride to the counter and try a breakfast. That said, once we finally arrived it didn’t disappoint. The wait staff were awesome and the food was delivered quickly and tasted great. And given the lineups the prices aren’t unreasonable, not sure I’d have the same constraint if I were in that position.
From there we did a slow tour through downtown, snapping pics of whatever we could find, until we finally found ourselves outside Chase Field. We signed on for a tour of the facilities, something I’ve actually never done at a ballpark before. Thinking about a tour of Chase Field? Comes highly recommended by yours truly. It was tons of fun to see the passion of the staff and the attention to detail by those who manage it. There’s a legitimate love not only of the Dbacks and the game, but of entertaining the fans that attend the games. Nothing but the field level itself seems off limits, up to and including press boxes and the dugout (where, yes, I satisfied the oft-discussed “basic ball shift” life list item). Here’s where things get fun.
So I hope I’m not blowing the secret if I note that a friend of OA, KP Wee, is currently involved in a book project surrounding former Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer, Tom Candiotti. Tom is currently employed as a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and I had offered up mine and Paul’s services to KP earlier in the year should he require photos for the project. KP indicated that, indeed, photos could come in handy, and he put me in touch with Tom. I had been texting him throughout the day to ensure things were still on schedule, and indeed at 5pm Paul and I hit the lobby of Chase Field to meet and greet Tom and be escorted into the back halls of Chase to the press boxes. Paul, with his good photographic eye and solid equipment, proceeded to snap a large number of shots ranging from the press box to field level. The whole process took less than an hour, we shook hands with Tom and he was off to the night job whilst we took our seats to take in the Dbacks vs. Cardinals game.
Sidenote on baseball stadiums: Rogers Centre sucks. Hard. Having now been to Fenway Park (2007), Progressive Field (2008), US Cellular Field (2009), Wrigley Field (2009) and Chase Field (2010) I have come to see exactly what makes a good park. Things like sightlines, seats, atmosphere, amenities, food and drink. Chase was happy to fill us in that each seat was redirected towards home plate, discussed their luxury “pool” box, HD screen, and even focused on foodservice things like fresh tamales, tequila on tap and craft beer pavilions. Enjoying a tamale with a bomber of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in my seat facing home plate only reinforces that Toronto, truly, doesn’t yet have a baseball stadium. It’d be nice to see it happen some day.