As Sam Sees It

Being there makes a difference. I watch baseball, especially the Diamondbacks quite often on television, but it isn’t the same thing as being at the game. When you are watching on the tube, you may get up and go get a drink or a bite to eat. Some people read a book or knit or crochet. Most fans who do this are members of the fair sex. The game gets only part of your attention and sometimes that is a small part.

There is electricity at the game that is just not there in your living room. (Well, it isn’t there in my living room, at least.) Baseball is a game of tense situation after tense situation at its best. The suspense is what makes it for baseball fans. Somehow you just don’t feel the suspense as much at home as you do at the game.

Not all baseball games live up to expectations. I was fortunate enough to attend the opening series at home for the Diamondbacks as they met the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won all three games. All were high scoring, one-sided affairs. They were all over three and a half hours long and one even went beyond four hours. Still, I was at the ballpark and stayed until the final out was in the books. Incidentally, I happen to be one of those fans who likes to keep a scorebook, even though it is usually discarded on the way out of the stadium. One side benefit of this unusual habit is that somewhere among my souvenirs are self-kept scorecards of a no-hitter by the Cardinals’ Jose Jimenez (a 1-0 win over Randy Johnson) and of the game in which the Diamondbacks turned a triple play (Steve Finley, to Damien Miller to Tony Womack on a Mark McGwire, bases loaded fly).

Those scorecards were worth keeping.

Several games in which Randy Johnson dueled another quality pitcher rank among the best I have ever seen. He and Kevin Brown of the Dodgers have had some memorable confrontations. Curt Schilling has given the Diamondbacks another pitcher worth making a special effort to see perform. His last outing against Brown was a classic. The game was over in less than two hours and neither pitcher gave up more than three hits. The Diamondbacks won 1-0. That game followed the three duds against the Cardinals and, unfortunately, was not one I was able to see in person.

During my Air Force reunion earlier this month, we attended a game at Pac-Bell Park in San Francisco. The game wasn’t a particularly good one, but there was enough good hitting and outstanding defensive plays to make us feel it was worth the money. The park is one of the better modern facilities, as is Phoenix’s Bank-One-Ballpark.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen games at Fenway Park in Boston (slated to become history in the near future), Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Griffith Stadium in Washington, Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis and the Texas Rangers’ park in Arlington, Texas (all of which are already history). The Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, the Oakland Coliseum, Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles and the park in San Diego are among the parks still around which I have enjoyed attending.

Baseball is a fun game, but it is a lot more fun when you are there and can feel the suspense and hear the buzz of anticipation from the crowd.

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