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.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

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

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

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

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

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

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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