PHOENIX — Jay Bell looked around Chase Field before the All-Star game Tuesday night and recalled how the Arizona franchise had developed after it signed him to a then-stunning five-year, $34 million contract before the Diamondbacks' inaugural 1998 season.
Three years later, shifted from shortstop to second base, Bell scored the winning run in an amazing ninth-inning comeback against Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
The emotional series, delayed by the tragic events of Sept. 11 that year, ranks among the most exciting of the game's history.
That Arizona team is to reunite in Phoenix this Sept. 11.
Long retired, Bell confesses that he misses the old purple uniforms, but he loves the direction of the now red-clad Damondbacks under manager Kirk Gibson and an experienced coaching staff.
"I love the evolution of the team," he said. "It's been a neat process. What's so enjoyable now is to see what the guys are becoming and how they're kind of taking to everything that Gibby is selling them."
After two dismal seasons in the division basement, the Diamondbacks are three games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.
The Chase — Chase Field, initially known as Bank One Ballpark before it got swept up in a flurry of bank mergers, is the 52nd ballpark to host an All-Star game.
Phoenix became the 27th city to hold the game and the first since Colorado in 1998 to host the classic for the first time. The field was completed in 1998 after a campaign that became so inflamed that a disturbed individual wounded a city councilwoman with a gunshot to the backside.
In the previous 81 All-Star games, the American League had scored 340 runs and the National 339. Forty-six of those 81 games were decided by two runs or less. Twenty-six All-Star games have been decided by one run, including four of the last five years.
Troy's here — Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki would seem to be a good candidate to join the long list of those sitting out the All-Star game. The shortstop missed four games last week with a strained quadriceps before returning on Saturday. Even though he played in the two games before the break, he could have begged off to let his leg rest.
"Yeah, I thought about it," he said before Tuesday's game. "If I wasn't healthy enough, you don't want to come here hurt and further injure yourself for your team. It means a lot to be here. The fans obviously love this game. We love playing it. There's not a better place to be right now."
He was making the first All-Start of his career.
No hot ticket — Possibly because the heat caused some fans not to travel to Arizona, there was less demand for tickets this year. Just six hours before first pitch, resale tickets were available for as low as $74, according to fansnap.com, and there were 1,000 tickets for less than $140.
The list price set by Major League Baseball ranged from $90-$350, down from $150-$360 when the Angels hosted last year. All-Star prices have fluctuated depending on the market in recent years, running from $75-$285 in San Francisco in 2007, to $170-$725 at New York's Yankee Stadium the following year to $100-$360 at St. Louis in 2009.
Homer happy — The Home Run Derby on Monday night drew 6,686,000 viewers on ESPN, according to fast national ratings, up 4 percent from last year's 6,418,000. The 4.7 rating increased 2 percent from last year's 4.6.
It drew a 10.3 rating in Boston, a 9.3 in Milwaukee, a 6.3 in Phoenix and a 6.1 in New York.
Steamy forecast — While much was made of the Arizona heat at this year's All-Star game, commissioner Bud Selig knows that it's sweltering across much of America in July. Take Kansas City, site of next year's game, for instance.
"It will be just as hot and a little more humid, but what the hell?" Selig said. "That's been Kansas City forever."