Here's a tip for young journalists: When you're covering a story as important as the World Series, be sure to bring 1) an acute sense of drama, 2) an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and 3) a flotation device.
Sorry. I should have said, if you are covering the World Series from the swimming pool in right centerfield at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, home of the Barney-colored Arizona Diamondbacks. For the small fee of $7,000 a national brewery rented that pool last Saturday night, entertaining a group of 35 employees, clients and friends from a Phoenix beer distributor with ballpark fare, a water-basketball game and, if they could fit it in, Game 1 of the World Series. Naturally, I crow-barred my way in.
O.K., so it's warped. Name one thing about the Diamondbacks that isn't. Their first baseman chain-smokes. Their ace lefthander wears a mullet. They play in a stadium called BOB, where there's not only a pool in right but also a T.G.I. Friday's in left and a roving guy who pours margaritas out of a spigot. Yes, margaritas by spigot. You think the Babe wouldn't have loved BOB? What's more, behind the pool is a museum in which you can see Arizona jerseys dating all the way back to 1998!
The whole deal bugs Yankees fans worse than chocolate-chip bagels. One New Yorker was quoted in the Daily News saying, "The fans are out there playing Marco Polo in the water. How tough can they be?" The Diamondbacks are 95 years, 26 world titles and 24 Hall of Famers behind the Bronx Bombers, and they don't even care! "Mystique and aura?" says Arizona righthander Curt Schilling. "Those are dancers at a nightclub."
So, armed with my flip-flops, waterproof pen and floating beer holder, I went to work last Saturday night. The temperature for the first pitch was 46�—in New York. At BOB it was 94�. What says World Series more than heat that would reduce Camryn Manheim to Calista Flockhart?
Commissioner, will you be wearing the orange Speedo tonight?
Once you get past the feeling that you're taking a bath in front of 49,646 people, being the pool reporter at a World Series is heaven. You float there with a baseball glove on one hand. You drink free beer-distributor beverages. Somebody wants to do the Wave, you start it with a cannonball. And because it was after 5 o'clock, I was getting overtime.
Sure, the pool isn't perfect. The mascot fell in one night, and wall hangers in bathing suits have dropped hats, balls, gloves, food and the contents of their stomachs onto the field. But that happens at Yankee Stadium, too, only most of those items are not so much dropped as aimed at visiting rightfielders.
Anyway, here is my report on Game 1, though, keep in mind, it's not easy to provide the accuracy and gravity a World Series deserves when certain bikinis are being worn by certain people directly in your line of vision. "That's our advantage," Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace says. "Teams come here and can't take their eyes off all the breasts."
I think somebody hit a homer in the first inning (although I'm not sure, because I was playing dunk ball). And I believe somebody made a great infield play (but I couldn't see, because I was in a breath-holding contest). And I think Arizona won (but I could be wrong, on account of how exceedingly well the beer distributor did his job).