It’s easy to confuse Chase Field, in downtown Phoenix, with one of the nearby plane hangars at Sky Harbor Airport. That’s how erector-set-ugly the place is, as I can assess fairly as a sports architecture aficionado who has been to every major-league ballpark but the one in Minnesota, where major-league baseball isn’t being played right now anyway. When they built The Chaser, they needed a distinctively Arizonan touch.
Not a single cactus volunteered, so they installed a pool.
Located behind the fence in right-center field, it’s normally used by groups of 30-35 people who want to stage an event, sometimes clothes-optional. The other day, the Los Angeles Dodgers used it to celebrate their National League West title. Led by the athletically gifted but undeniably goofballish Yasiel Puig, who performed some sort of Cuban belly-flop, about half the roster ran across the field and splish-splashed. And if they didn’t pay for the privilege, well, this is a franchise with a record $235-million payroll owned by a nameless, faceless financial-services firm that paid $2 billion for the team, then sold the local TV rights for $7 billion. Guggenheim Partners can afford the chlorine bill.
Seems a few people in Arizona didn’t appreciate the impromptu pool party, even though it’s described on the Diamondbacks website as “The Party Pool.” First some of the players balked, including Willie Bloomquist, who said, “I think it’s tired and disrespectful. It’s surprising because they have a lot of veteran guys on that team that I thought were classier than that. I doubt the New York Yankees would do something like that.” Then team president and CEO Derrick Hall, who once worked for the Dodgers, weighed in with a statement to the Arizona Republic: “I could call it disrespectful and classless, but they don’t have a beautiful pool at their old park and must have really wanted to see what one was like.”
If this is starting to sound pretty ridiculous — on a 1-to-10 scale, the experience at the Dodgers’ “old park,” at Chavez Ravine, is at least a 9, while Chase FIeld might be a 3 — the controversy grew absurd when You Know Who entered the fray. I seem to recall Arizona Sen. John McCain running for president with Sarah Palin on his ticket. He could tolerate her all those months … but not a baseball team celebrating?
Tweeted McCain: “No-class act by a bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats!” With his tweet was a link to a Republic column headlined, “The Dodgers are idiots,” which urged the Diamondbacks to “stage a high-profile draining and cleansing of the pool. Maybe even bring in Bill Murray in a Hazmat suit.”
Again, why is everyone mad? Because a few players jumped in an empty party pool to party? As far as we know, no one even peed in the water.
It’s a little odd that Brian Wilson is a Dodger now, after his monstrous role in helping the rival San Francisco Giants win a World Series in 2010. But you have to love how he responded to McCain. Tweeted Wilson: “Senator McComplain knows a thing or two about coming in second and watching someone take a plunge in the pool (I mean poll) #POoLITICS”
They think the Dodgers are ”idiots” in Arizona because Puig, visiting Chase FIeld for the first time after his callup from the minor leagues, supposedly dissed a Diamondbacks hero from their World Series days, Luis Gonzalez. Truth is, people who live in Arizona are envious of all things L.A. and try much too hard to be L.A., which is difficult with so many tumbleweeds and snakes and cowboy boots ruining the attempted vibe.
Look, baseball is an excruciating profession. Pitch after pitch, inning after inning, game after game, week after week, month after month — when a mission that starts in February ends with success in September, it’s understood throughout the sport that champions will celebrate, wherever they are, especially when there’s a pool in the outfield. If the Arizona Diamondbacks are offended, here’s some advice:
Assemble a team good enough to celebrate in its own pool. Until then, go drown your sorrows.