CRAIG GRAU: Going, going, gone! - The Explorer: Sports

CRAIG GRAU: Going, going, gone!

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Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:50 am, Wed Nov 28, 2012.

Kicked back a few rows behind home plate and struggling to finish a foot-long Super Dog with grilled onions and jalapenos, I was — in theory — working.

But Monday night’s tough questions rose from the next row, where Northwest-siders Don Jensen, 53, and Renee Merrill, 54 watched Tucson’s Triple-A baseball romance swoon into Reno’s ether.

“So what do you think?” Jensen asked. “Is Sandy a boy or a girl?”

I suggested he ask the Sidewinders’ mascot to lift its shirt, as the pair handed me a camera and readied to pose with the plush rattler.

Jensen balked, I snapped the image, and earned a fist bump from Sandy.

“He’s definitely a guy,” Jensen pronounced. “Did you see those hands?”

As the Sidewinders wrapped their season last place in the Pacific Coast League — two years removed from a Triple-A title — no hands on the field could rally the guys from dropping a 7-2 loss during their final game at Tucson Electric Park.

But the 6,033 fans that nearly doubled the team’s average attendance didn’t care to attend a wake.

Theirs was a night for the scrapbooks.

During the sixth inning, Sidewinders shortstop Donnie Kelly’s solo shot over the right-center fence agitated a swarm of kids who tracked the outbound leather arc.

Seconds later, a mohawked youth wearing a “Jesus Hates the Yankees” shirt threw his mitt to the lawn, as nine-year-old Ricky Jackson sped off with his first home run ball, gouged with woodgrain.

Jackson was happy enough with his “cool” souvenir. Atop the home dugout, a gaggle of fans touted an easier hustle, catching the baseballs Sidewinders pitchers tossed them just for asking.

Between photo ops, freebies and unofficial money-back guarantees on concessions, Sidewinder fans walked the red carpet.

But minor league baseball’s nothing if not corny.

From race-the mascot promotions, to unexplained blasting of The Outfield’s “Your Love” every other inning, to the rotund and drunken mu-mu wearing lady that kept rolling down the lawn, Triple-A ball homered one last time.

You’d think Tucson would fall over itself to crown such campy competition king.

As the ninth inning loomed, two teenagers deflated the kiddie jumping castle near left field, rolling up their saggy babysitter, one last time.

“It’s kinda sad, but we’re part of history, I guess,” said 18-year-old Karen Parisot.

Josie’s on a vacation far away…

Tucson’s Phil Avlas fouled out down the first base line, as a few spectators wiped tears from their cheeks, before the fireworks boomed the city’s misfielding of a fine way to spend Labor Day.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your Tucson Sidewinders!,” roared the announcer to standing ovations.

Except they weren’t. Not anymore.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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