But then the Wildcats actually played games, and what was supposed to be a turnaround season looked a lot more like what we've come to expect from the men on the diamond. They had hitting problems, they had pitching problems, they had fielding problems. In short, they had problems finding wins, an all-too-familiar recipe for Tucson baseball fans.
Yet Arizona managed to play good enough to stay above water, and actually started to perform at a solid level with nine regular-season games remaining, especially in terms of its run production. However, that nine-game stretch looked like something of a gauntlet. Pac-10 powers Stanford, ASU and USC would determine whether Arizona would get the honor of playing past the posted schedule.
When Arizona lost its series opener with Stanford in an 11-9 shootout, things weren't exactly looking up. Perhaps gradual improvement would have to wait. Or maybe it was time for that aforementioned spike. The UA's 19-18 seesaw come-from-behind win in the weekend's second encounter could be a game for the ages. And it could be one of those moments Wildcat fans reflect upon if Lopez does indeed return this program to the level he wants. Arizona wrapped up the series in impressive fashion, whacking the No. 1 ranked Cardinal 11-2, thus taking two of three in a must weekend.
In truth, all it does is set up more must weekends, but at least Arizona isn't a team basically playing out the string. That said, it has to perform well against an ASU squad that has had its number of late. Arizona State has won seven of the last eight meetings.
But if Arizona continues to put the pieces together it could bode well in terms of long-term growth. If that happens, the gradual improvement might be remembered in terms of the dramatic spike from that Wildcat victory over Stanford on a late Sunday night at nearly vacant Frank Sancet Field…
…This whole boycott thing is beginning to get tough on me. I ran into a serious quandary just the other day. Now I'm all about a good personal boycott. And in truth, really it's been awhile since I added to my list. I think I started with Dockers because I hated their initial crotch-focused ad campaign. No Dockers in my closet to this day. There's the Major League Baseball boycott (three strikes and you're out), the NBA boycott (left for the strike year, have dabbled off an on since but not nearly the fan I used to be), and more modern boycotts like 7/11 and Circle K. The 7/11 boycott has sort of been informal but active for some time really. I think 7/11 dramatically overcharges for its soda products, so I don't see the point in shopping there when that's generally all I purchase at convenience stores anyway.
But now Circle K has made things a bit more difficult. Circle K sells what I consider a legitimate brand of gas: Union 76, at least in Tucson. And since the partnership gas prices at Circle Ks around town have been very comparable. So if there was a Circle K on the way and I needed some petrol, I had no problem stopping, and perhaps I'd snag a quick soda as a bonus. But since gas prices have steadily increased, Circle K has charged somewhere in the neighborhood of six to 10 cents more than anyone else.
People complain about the current price of gas, and they talk in conspiracy terms in regards to how much profit companies are potentially making. You know the drill. And I'll agree, the current jump is absurd, but to me the gas companies have been America's best example of product collusion for as long as I can remember, regardless of the price we pay at the pump. It's the only industry I can think of where competition seems to be meaningless. Let's use Coke and Pepsi as an example. Sometimes you go to the store and Coke has a special. Sometimes you go to the store and Pepsi is less expensive. From time to time, someone's product is going to be on sale, or provided for less than the competition. This is never the case in oil. As consistently as the sun rises, I can count on Arco or Diamond Shamrock selling its product for a couple cents less than Exxon and Shell. Whether it's one dollar or more than two, the price difference remains the same. The corporate offices at Shell never say, "Hey, this week we're cutting gas prices by 25 cents. Try our product." Doesn't happen. So the only conclusion I can make is that Circle K is trying to add a bit of a bump to the already astronomical rate. Now Circle K is certainly entitled to do this, but I'm just as entitled to go somewhere else.
To some degree, the personal boycott issue came to a bit of a head the other day at a Wells Fargo bank branch. I opened a bank account with First Interstate about 20 years ago, and I just stayed with Wells, and haven't been all that disappointed. However, Wells Fargo seems fit to charge extra for money orders. Like three dollars extra. I was hoping that perhaps by virtue of my long standing, or by virtue of the amount of Cat Tracks-related riches I've accumulated in my multi-numerical bank accounts that Wells might see fit to waive the three bucks. Nah, nothing doing. I begrudgingly paid the fee. Largely because I wasn't thinking straight, which probably had more than a little bit to do with the rather attractive, patient and remarkably kind teller behind the desk. During the course of the three-dollar conversation, she suggested I could go to 7/11 and order a money order from there. I wanted to say no, I can't very well do that, because I'm boycotting 7/11, but that would involve a lengthy explanation (likely representative to the length of this portion of the column), and there were people waiting, probably irritated because I was taking up a lot of time with the rather attractive, patient and remarkably kind teller behind the desk.
In the end it works like this. I really don't mind paying for a service. I just don't want to get gouged for it. If 7/11 has overpriced soda, I can go somewhere else. If Circle K adds six to 10 cents per gallon of gas, I can go somewhere else. If Wells Fargo charges three bucks per money order, I can go somewhere else, in the future probably the Post Office, which charges a seemingly reasonable (to me) fee of 75 cents. But if the Post Office bumps up its money order charge, I'm really going to have a difficult time figuring out ways to mail my letters. I guess I could work on that whole direct deposit thing, but then that would take the fun out plopping 37 pennies into the machine for the purpose of buying one stamp. Perhaps that's a ramble for another time. I guess, that is, unless I get boycotted.