Notes from the Ballpark

Craig Counsell, the second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks, had been alive less than a month when Jimi Hendrix died. Hence the cognitive dissonance when, every time Counsell steps to the plate at the Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix – the BOB – they play Hendrix’s opening lines from “All Along the Watchtower.” It’s a good song, regardless of the time warp.

The D-Backs seem to have an uncomfortable relationship with their desert namesake. The fluffy mascot hopping around at the stadium is bobcat (“BOBcat,” get it), not a snake. It’s hard to make a cute snake, and hard to imagine how you deck out a stuffed one to dance atop the dugout. But in the late innings, when rally energy is needed, a rattler appears on the animated sign board above center field. It’s all rattle and no fangs, though. Snakes are scary, I guess.

There was good theater tonight, in the way of an early summer evening at the ballpark, a langorous nine innings that don’t quite matter as much as nine innings in September. Luis Gonzalez, the D-Backs’ left fielder, got thrown out for arguing a called third strike. It was the second time he’d struck out with a runner on third and only one out – the sort of scoring opportunity he’s paid a substantial sum to convert. Counsell, to the tune of Hendrix, whacked two of the most lovely doubles into the right field corner. And my scorecard looks like chaos in pen, thanks to the complex lineup gymnastics a manager must perform in a league where the pitcher hits. That led to the final bit of theater, when Tony Clark came up to pinch hit. It was the number seven spot in the order, filled at games’ start by the shortstop. But by the ninth inning, we’d seen a double switch, the seven spot in the order had become the pitcher’s spot, and we saw Clark as a pinch hitter, two down in the ninth with the winning run on first.

He lofted a long fly ball to deep right-center, but a bit too high and not quite deep enough. Final score: Washington 4, Arizona 3.

I can add another major league ballpark to my life list.