As I sat in front of my laptop on Saturday afternoon struggling with a rough case of writer's block, I considered my dearth of current Arizona sports options.
Training camp is just kicking off in Flagstaff, but you'll be beaten over the head with features on Matt Leinart and other key Cardinals. I could theoretically write about the Suns, but over a month and a half away from the opening of training camp, they could not be further from the minds of most Valley fans. I could also write about the Coyotes or Mercury, but I don't think you'd want to read a post that is only 150 words and filled with half-knowledge.
It was while in the midst of my "writing process" (read: vodka consumption) that I heard Daron Sutton inform viewers of Saturday night's D-backs/Mets game that the first 15,000 fans to the August 21st game against the Rockies would receive keychain replicas of the new D-backs/Rockies spring training site up in Scottsdale. I barely had any time to consider the promotion before Sutton quipped that he didn't believe the key chains were actual stadium size. Sigh.
Notwithstanding the bad joke, the keychains seem nice, but I think the team can do better. Since Scott Howard is what they call a solutions-oriented go-getter, I've decided to lend a helping hand with some of my own ideas.
I'll provide you with the name of the promotion, a brief description, and then offer a self-rating system based on Field of Dreams that ranks the promotions on a scale of 1-10 Terence Manns, with 10 being the highest. It makes perfect sense - don't think on it too long.
On to the promotions:
August 4, 2010 v. Washington Nationals
Promotion: Junior Spivey All-Star Bobblehead Night
Description: Who can forget Spivey's magical 2002 All-Star season? Nothing? Well fine, I'll tell you. Spivey was a D-backs second baseman who had an extremely hot first half in the 2002 season - hitting .328 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. He was an All-Star in a year where the D-backs won their division and sent five other players to the game (Schilling, Johnson, Gonzalez, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Damian Miller).
Spivey came back to earth the rest of the season, suffered from a below average 2003, was dealt to the Brewers prior to the 2004 season, and was out of the big leagues by 2005.
To honor his fluke All-Star appearance - and in the same vein as the Dan Haren and Justin Upton All-Star bobbleheads given out earlier this year - we can dust off his old bobbleheads and give them out to the first
10,000 5,000 2,000 fans.
But there's more to this promotion. You won't receive the bobblehead when you enter the gate; it will be hand delivered to you by Spivey during his breaks as a stadium cotton candy vendor. Can't beat that deal.
Will People Come Ray?: 4 Terence Manns. Those who remember Spivey probably already have the bobblehead given out in 2003. There was actually such a bobblehead given out.
August 17, 2010 v. Cincinnati Reds
Promotion: Dark (K)night
Description: This is a bit of a three-parter. First, if you've ever watched or listened to a D-backs game, you know that there are many commercials about energy conservation. You know, the APS ones where Steve Nash shows up and assaults people with a basketball in order to convince them to turn their lights off.
To take energy conservation to the next level, the D-backs can play a game completely in the dark. Sure, that will make the baseball playing tough, but it will certainly be interesting.
Since the fans would struggle to see the field, the second part of the promotion will be to offer free flash lights for all in attendance. And the third part? Well it doesn't make any sense at all. Just to make the movie pun work, the flash lights will have Batman symbols on them. Cross-promotional genius.
Will People Come Ray?: 8 Terence Manns. Baseball in the dark where all you can see is a bunch of flashlights? Tell me you wouldn't sign up for that. Plus I see a number of strike out, passed ball, and inside the park home run records being broken.
August 30, 2010 v. San Diego Padres
Promotion: Commemorative D. Baxter the Bobcat Breathalyzers
Description: What if I were to tell you that there was a promotion that could call attention to the issues with drunk driving and tie directly into D-backs history? Well, look no further than this.
As you may remember from January of 2009, the Diamondbacks fired their mascot following his arrest for extreme DUI (and excessive speeding, and admitting to officers that he was smoking pot earlier in the day). Now to "honor" that occasion and make sure you don't make the same mistakes Baxter made that fateful night, the first 9,000 fans in attendance will get this handy breathalyzer device.
Possibly had a few too many beers during the game to drive home? Let Baxter be the judge of that.
Will People Come Ray?: 6 Terence Manns. It's not the best idea in the world, but it has the dual appeal of breathalyzers for the adults and the adorable appearance of Baxter on the side of it for the kiddies.
September 5, 2010 v. Houston Astros
Promotion: Be the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks
Description: It's exactly what it sounds like. Everyone will be handed a raffle ticket upon entering the park and provided the game lends itself to a save situation, manager Kirk Gibson will get on the public address system and call out a number from one of the tickets.
The holder of the correct raffle ticket will be offered the opportunity to close out the ninth inning for the struggling D-backs bullpen. There will be no discrimination; whoever gets picked will have the chance to throw the ball.
Will People Come Ray?: 10 Terence Manns. What I expect to be a massive crowd will be a mix of former high school wanna-bes and people hoping to see a five-year-old girl try to strike out Hunter Pence.
September 8, 2010 v. San Francisco Giants
Promotion: Chase Field Movie Night
Description: I recall seeing a similar promotion for Movie Night at Dodger Stadium where fans could come out and watch the Dodgers play a road game and follow it up by watching a Harry Potter movie on the stadium scoreboard. As you are probably aware, Chase Field has the second biggest HD screen in Major League Baseball, so the D-backs could probably do movie night a whole lot better.
But here's where it gets even better: since the team has been so uncompetitive so far this season, we'll just show the movie during the game. Sometimes baseball can get a little slow, so why not just give people options?
I'm thinking you pop Major League on the big screen and let the fans commiserate about failure during the first 45 minutes of the movie and spend the rest of the movie wishing Ken Kendrick was a vile woman trying to move the team to Florida.
Will People Come Ray?: 7 Terence Manns. People love having their entertainment options open, and with baseball and a movie going on at once, you can't lose. Like Parker Lewis.
September 23, 2010 v. Colorado Rockies
Promotion: ComiCon at Chase Field
Description: This one is pretty simple. I remember back in late May when Phoenix ComiCon was going on at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center during the midst of the Western Conference Finals. From what I saw, there were a good amount of people down there and if Wikipedia is correct (and it always is) there were 13,988 people at the three-day event.
Now here's what you do: just tell everyone that ComiCon is coming back to Phoenix during 2010 and this time it won't be held at the Convention Center. That should be enough to get the comic books fans in a tizzy and have them barreling their way towards Chase Field to pick up tickets.
Once there are hundreds of people dressed like Darth Vader comfortable inside Chase Field - and right around the time they realize there's a baseball game going on - you lock the gates. For nine innings, the crowd will be forced to endure Diamondbacks baseball, whether they like it or not. As an added bonus, not knowing how long the false imprisonment will last, they'll probably purchase some food and drink.
Illegal? Definitely. Deceitful? Almost certainly. Ticket sales? You're damn right.
Will People Come Ray?: 7.5 Terence Manns. Sure, you're driving people out to the stadium under false pretenses, but they'll be there - and that counts for something.
That's free advice for the D-backs PR staff... I won't even ask for a commission.