It’s all a matter of perspective. In my mind Arizona is the land of retirees, so the 6:35 start time of a game shouldn’t make much difference in attendance at an Arizona Fall League game. But it did last night, with an announced crowd of 1,120 at Scottsdale Stadium – a crowd so dense that it overwhelmed the scant parking lot and created a long line to the lone ticket processor.
One of the reasons for the larger-than-usual-crowd was that Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame prior to the game. Or as this retiree from Bahstin excitedly told his dahteh back east, “I’m here in Scawtsdale Stadium where they just ah-nehd Pedroi-er.
It wasn’t just the old fans who showed up. I was impressed that Pedroia, who played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in 2004 brought out such a cross-section of men, women and children, old and young alike including my first sighting of a stroller at an AFL game. None of them wore his retired #77 Scorpions uniform, but many were in his current Sox #15 uni – the dude in front of me sporting the gold trim look.
Aside from the pre-game Pedroia festivities, another factor that swelled the crowd was the evening start time. As much as I think of Arizona as a retiree playground, there are evidently still plenty of kids who can’t make the usual 12:35 first pitch because they’re in school, or adults who actually work and save their game attendance for the rare 6:35 start – like this gent appropriately sporting his camel jacket for the evening cool of the desert.
I made my way into the stadium, in time for the start of the game but well after the Pedroia ceremony was over. I was more interested in watching for any signs of progress with Phillies’ prospects Roman Quinn and Logan Moore. Quinn struggled at the plate, Moore struggled behind it, and it wasn’t a good night for the Scorpions who fell to a league worst 10-15 in an 8-4 loss to the league’s best Salt River Rafters now boasting a 16-6 record. In fact the crowd of 1,120 was big enough that we could barely hear the Silver Fox from Salt River who sat in her usual perch behind the Rafters dugout doing her usual routine of gyrations and verbal machinations, clapping and yelling encouragement after each pitch and oft times in between.
One the quaint enjoyments of the AFL is seeing second generation ballplayers trying to make it to the Bigs, with many familiar names in the same game like Mondesi and Mazilli. I can imagine the rail talk between these two last night.
Dante Bichette Jr.: “Yeh, my dad had a pretty good career. In 14 seasons he hit .299 with an OPS of .835, 274 homers and 1174 RBIs.”
Logan Moore: “Well my dad never lost a game in his major league career with the Phils. Of course, he never won one either.”
Kind of depressing when you think about it, and this is destined to become an AFL trivia question. What is the only major league team with all of its affiliates, from the low “A” all the way up to the major league club – including their AFL team – finish last in the standings in the same season? Looks like it’ll be the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies. I don’t envy the un-retired Pat Gillick.
(Well I stand corrected. All of the affiliates except the Clearwater club, though they still finished under .500 to keep the losing profile intact.)