Saturday, October 07, 2017

Build a Parking Lot and They Will Come

It was with a considerable sense of amazement and outrage that I read, in the Sept. 20, 2017, edition of the Scottsdale Independent, an article by Terrance Thornton under the headline, "Updating the Lynchpin: Downtown spark may come from stadium upgrades," detailing the need for upgrades for Scottsdale Stadium, where the San Francisco Giants play their spring training games. At first, my reaction was shock and awe. Actually, still is. However, in doing my due diligence on this topic, despite my chagrin a single piece of front-page journalism could lack one single dissenting voice to this supposed need for a stadium upgrade, I have done a complete feedback fruit loop on the whole damn thing.

Now, I think Mr. Thornton is some kind of true literary genius. But that term gets tossed around even more than "love one another," "money sucks" and "mattress sale." Surely, some divine providence is at hand in this piece by the so-called "Independent." As my old high school baseball coach, Jerry Dawson at Chaparral High School used to say, "Even a blind bat catches a squirrel every now and then."

There's a lot to go through here, so bear with me.

My initial reaction was based on pure baseball logic.

Forget, for a second, how the term "lynchpin" ever became popular in America, if you can. We all know why that is, but let's move on, holding tightly to the guiding hand of what baseball has done for race relations in this country, and, with a simple prayer stating: God bless Jackie Robinson. Forty two, man. Forty two.

OK, baseball logic ... right ... My thinking was, fuck the Giants! Why should a metropolis in dire need of a winner ever want to make it so comfy for a competitor as badass rich as the San Francisco Giants, or, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for that matter? According to a recent article in Forbes, the Giants are one of the most financially set up franchises in not just baseball, but sports. If not for the crack in the cosmos called 2017, they would probably be in the World Series again this year. So, my gut reaction was, send them to Florida. Give them the raw time zone of the Citrus League for a couple of months, then let them try to catch up on their sleep as the season rolls on. Make them eat alligator, sprinkled with crushed mosquitoes. All baked in a hell fire of swamp-hick-con-man DNA and apocalyptic humidity. If you want to really drive the economy, let's give the Arizona Diamonbacks all the breaks, perks and, yes, here it comes, parking, that franchise will ever need.

I know, I know, as far as that last DNA part goes, Scottsdale, Arizona is no better. It's what my daughter likes to call "Alabama with celebrities." And as far as the Diamondbacks go ... sheeee-it ... how boosterish am I being? That it has taken me this long to get into the confessional batter's box is no small miracle itself. Because, you see, I used to work for the Independent in Scottsdale, in a building once owned by Charles Keating. Ran three newspapers at once as a managing editor and that place back then pretty much reduced me to a man laying flat on his back, unable to move, mumbling to myself like some kind of lost street mystic gone soft on french fries left on a park bench near the local McDonalds.

In hindsight, I can hardly blame the Independent. The place was simply overrun by history at the time, its poor internet server and e-mail clogged by Republican-based jamming techniques in response to the release of the Michael Moore film, "Fahrenheit 911." By the time anyone came into the office on the morning of that deadline day, I was smoking like a fool and staring into space, maybe saying something about how I had a vision of Gila monsters crawling across the desert. They were nice enough to give me the rest of the day off, and as soon as I got out of there, retreating into a nearby book store, I was fine. Better than ever. It's just the smell of books, I guess. One of the best forms of aromatherapy I know. So God bless my friends at the Independent at the time. Thank you for carrying that load for me, who simply had a bigger picture filling my mind at the time, and that picture was a flood of colors that had more paint than my gallon-can mind could contain. Pedro just couldn't pitch that day, thassall. Things are different now. It all makes perfect sense to me. Hope ya'll are equally recovered from the experience of those dark days.

Whew. I know I feel better. You?

OK, so where's the "we" in this? Please help me, O great memory of Jerry Dawson, the cyber cybernetic truth of team and the collective winning spirit needed by all great conquerors and religion-establishing mystics. Right, take a strike. Let us call on the current patron saints of independent thought: I.F. Stone, the late-great Hunter S. Thompson and Bjork (the Icelandic singer, not the former U.S. Supreme Court nominee).

Now the count is 0-1. I still have two other pitches, at least. Readers at this point? Eh? No matter. I gotta figure the Googlewhack at this point, with all of the references, is going to more than pay for itself.

The pitcher then is this story by the Independent, which states: "While downtown Scottsdale is made up of quaint shops, a robust gallery district and a vivid nightlife scene many say the true straw that stirs that economic cocktail has always been Scottsdale Stadium ... As times change, so do the desires of municipal partners as Scottsdale City Council Tuesday, Sept. 12 voted to allow up to $900,000 stadium facilities capital improvement fund to reconstruct portions of Scottsdale Stadium including: ... Reconstruction of the stadium's outfield parking lot ..."

There are other things, but let's just pull the car in right there.

Is there anything going on in this town that isn't all to the service of the automobile?

Sure, there's the Green Belt for flood control, but that's only so people can golf and cars won't wash away during a monsoon flash flood. And they don't. It's a beautiful world the mad architects of Scottsdale have created, with nooks and crannies only a pedestrian with a sense for accident and adventure will notice. But this isn't a new parking lot. It's a reconstructed parking place.

Let me reveal, Oh here's the secret: I have a "source." This person knows more about baseball than anyone possibly can. In fact, this person is the actual straw who stirs the mystical drink of the game, which is why he's always knows where to be when that 500th home gets hit, or, when the earthquake ruins the World Series. This is only a slight exaggeration. Anyway, what he says is the drift in new spring training parks is out along the freeways because, let's face it, that's where the cars go ... and there's more room for parking.

Let me bow to this wizard of the game. Let me not waste his baseball research. I will just be the first base coach or something. So yeah, if that's what Old Town needs to compete before it is left nothing but a tomb of empty retail spaces, get some more parking in there.

As Chuckles says, "Build a parking lot and they will come."

Douglas McDaniel is the former managing editor of The Diamond (the Official Magazine of Major League Baseball), a former contributor to USA Today Baseball Weekly, the former editor of Harnett's Sports Arizona, and the publisher of baseball poems in numerous sport-based literary journals, including Spitball, which may in fact still be around. As a junior in baseball at Chaparral High School, he hit .420 as a member of the so-called "Jerry's Kids." But then, like an idiot, played football his senior year, and wrecked his knee ... a limb that isn't getting any better as the years roll on. He can walk okay, though, most days. As long as he keeps moving. He bats right. Throws right. But as anyone can see, he's a natural lefty.

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