Since the Diamondbacks introduced the Legend’s races in July, there have been two constants in the universe. One Mark Grace will always lose the race by one means or another. Two, the Legends race will always occur at the conclusion of the fifth inning with the Chase Field roof closed.
I had begun to wonder if these two constants were somehow related. Was Grace losing a result of his environment or was this more genetic and he was just bred to travel at a snail’s pace? These are the kinds of things a fan is left to ponder during the intense Arizona heat and their team mired in last place.
While we would all love to have an answer to these imponderables the universe was conspiring against us. With daytime temperatures still well into the triple digits, the odds of finishing the season with the roof open seemed remote at best.
All of that changed, just moments before the first pitch. The Legends had completed their pre-game meet-and-greet with the fans and had wandered back to the playing field walking the racecourse one last time.
The fans were getting a last minute beverage and settling into their seats to wait for the first pitch of the game. Suddenly the silence was broken with the sounds of techno-music that had not been heard in a very long time.
After just the first four bars I knew this song. My pen dropped from my scorebook and my eyes were lifted to the heavens. Just then the angelic sounds exploded through the sound system and a bright light appeared from above.
At first I thought I was having some kind of religious awakening then I realized it was more important than that. The roof to Chase Field was opening!
I sat and listened to the melody and a tear fell down my cheek. This was it, a sign from heaven. Clearly Grace just had to win tonight, the first Legends race played where the Baseball Gods could watch from above.
As the fifth inning concluded my confidence level was higher than it had ever been. This was the night that history would be made, Grace would finally win the Legends race. It was perfect. The roof was open, the temperatures were dropping, and Legend Grace seemed to have a little more spring in his step.
When the public address announcer called the racers, they burst from the gates of the San Francisco Giants bullpen and ran down the warning track towards home plate. Grace seemed a little lighter than normal, his mascot feet dancing above the dirt punctuated with little puffs of dust with each stride.
He was close to the lead and he had a look of determination on that big polyester head. Well technically it was the same look he had when he was in the men’s room stall a few days back so that could be constipation rather than determination but I was choosing to be positive tonight.
As the racers came around home plate Grace stumbled just a bit dropping back a half a step. That one misstep was all it took. In the twinkling of starlight, Grace would go from leading to losing as the other Legends edge him out at the line.
Alas, the night was not a total loss. We were able to prove a hypothesis that the 38 losses so far were not a result of his environment, I guess genetics do have a role in mascot racing. Or maybe it is just that Grace’s jeans don’t fit well. But that’s another tale for another day.