Snakes alive (even when the fans aren’t)

Saturday, May 6, 2006–Diamondbacks 8, Reds 9

Dad and I went on an Arizona roadtrip in May of 2006. It’s a trip we wouldn’t be making this year. We went to a D’backs game, Flagstaff, el Cañon Grande, Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon. Many of the places we visited (except the ballpark) had a bit of an astronomical flavor to them, the planetarium show at the science museum in Phoenix, Lowell Observatory and the Meteor Crater visitor center. This made me want to get out into a truly dark Arizona sky and do some serious stargazing. This was especially true as we were hearing a docent giving a sundown talk about how Flagstaff was the first “dark sky” city, with lighting fixtures to minimize light pollution. “But we can’t do anything about the biggest source of light pollution… The moon.” We were gone while the moon was waxing, so we’d’ve had to stay up way too late to get any dark skies. Drat.

I’ve been a bit surprised at how much my memory differs from what actually happened, and how arbitrary it seems which games I remember well and refer to the scorecard simply to check for accuracy, and which games I couldn’t tell you the starting pitchers of without the card. Common sense would say that the more exciting and entertaining games would be the ones to remember, and for the most part, that’s true. So why has my memory so spectacularly dropped the ball on this one?

Do you remember Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez spent some time with the D’backs in ’06? I sure don’t, which is remarkable, considering he was their starter that day. Memory doesn’t serve very well for the Reds’ starter either. Until I saw on the card that Dave Williams took the bump for Cincy, I could have sworn it was Aaron Harang again. The way the mind puts objects into categories seems to have failed me here. Looking at the scorecard, I see a high-scoring slugfest, with several lead changes, and a bottom-of-the-ninth comeback that came–literally–within inches of being a walk-off win for the D’backs, and yet I remember this game as being fairly dull and listless. What gives? I think it was the fans. The attendance is listed as 27,707, and it seems like there were more there, and yet for all the noise and enthusiasm they were generating, it may as well have been half that.

I remember vividly a discussion about patterns with my father. The Reds scored 4 in the third and the D’backs answered with 5 in the bottom half. When the Reds scored 4 in the sixth, Dad  proclaimed that the snakes would score 5 more, and then went on to say the 4-5 pattern would be repeated in the ninth, and the final score would be 12-15, D’backs. I disagreed, feeling that while such a score line would be very attractive and symmetrical:

004 004 004
005 005 005

this isn’t how baseball works. “Patterns rule the Universe, dude,” was his answer. I’m sure I must have been gloating when the first two Arizona batters were retired, and I guess he might have been ribbing me as they put together a rally for two runs, but the pattern did indeed break there to make it 8-7 Reds.

The only play I remember is the final play of the game. Arizona had the bases loaded with one out, and I was trying to get the fans in my section to make some noise. Just this in itself should tell me something’s funky about my memory, I must have thought the game was exciting at the time.  Nonetheless, the crowd’s apparent apathy–for a 1-out, bases-loaded, winning-run-in-scoring-position situation–had me back in my seat and sitting on my hands for the final pitch. Johnny Estrada hit a screaming line drive, right into the glove of Reds first basemen Scott Hatteberg, who then trotted over to first for the game-ending double play. Had it been hit a few inches to either side of Hatteberg, it would’ve scored two and delivered a win for the home team.

Here’s the scorecard.

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