We may have had a bit of fun in our last visit with the notion that Jessica Simpson's opening act is Randy Johnson. However, we felt that perhaps we hadn't given the matter the proper respect it deserves. After all, a number of important and wealthy people knowledgeable about their industries determined this created synergies of some type. Who are we to question corporations? Therefore, we set out to document the evening last night at Chase Field, where a baseball game can indeed be incidental. First, of course, we had to get a ticket. If you remember the original story (and we know you have it on your fridge), all one had to do to acquire access to the bliss that can only come from being in the same cavernous mallpark as Jessica Simpson was to spend money at Fry's Food and Drug. (Unfortunately, you had to choose food.)
Jessica's glossy face awaits you when you enter the front of the store, beckoning you to gorge on PepsiCo products (which is why you'll need the ProActiv, we assume) to finally be able to grace her presence. We started stacking our cart full of Diet Pepsi and Sobe Water when spotted some fine, fine print:
Did we have enough magical Fry's points to spend on such a titillating offer? No, sadly... we've just moved to this fine clime and therefore have not shopped at Fry's enough (or been to enough Diamondbacks games) to gather the needed points. However, we estimate that it only takes 4-6 weeks of feeding the gaping maws of the little lights of your life to gather up enough Fry's points to make this happen. So now you know the price of getting close enough to Jessica Simpson to see the roots. (Of her country music career.)
Ooh! Chip bowl! Classy. We had spent enough to get our magical receipt, vesting us with the power to claim a free Jessica Simpson concert ticket (with extra baseball!) by the time we left Fry's. We considered various plots to gather the necessary Fry's points to get closer to the story, but we reconsidered. We weren't actually all that sure how close we wanted to get to the phenomenon. In the end, we chose to stay in the stands and work the general crowd, avoiding the Jessica Simpson fangirls and boys. Also, we might need those Fry's points for something important someday. We sprinted out of our home right after Deadspin work last night to make it just in time for the game, though not in time to get in on the Dan Haren bobblehead night. (You owe us a bobblehead, Unsilent!) We weren't overwhelmed with the walkup crowd when we arrived, but we were concerned our magical free ticket may not be available anymore. After all, there may not be a Jessica Simpson explosion in fan attendance, but 'free' tickets to a baseball team in a playoff race are 'free' tickets to a baseball team in a playoff race. Our concerns were unfounded, though; we snatched up our free ticket with little trouble. The ticket vendor told us that many people had indeed cashed in their receipts and to expect a full upper deck tonight. (What, you didn't think they were giving away the seats they were making money on, did you?)
Sure enough, the upper deck did seem rather full (at least for a Diamondbacks game), but the composition of the crowd struck us. We found ourselves surrounded by families (as you'd expect on a Saturday in the cheap seats) and many pre-teen and teenage girls with questionable interest in the game. Did the Diamondbacks actually get the atypical teenage girl crowd to attend a Saturday night game to see their heroine?
The Diamondbacks did pull out all the stops to lure the girls into becoming baseball fans. They invited the ESPY-laden heroines of college softball after telling their story of carrying an opposing player around the bases.
Jessica herself came out in the fifth to pimp her appearance and put on her best performance of the evening: not cringing at the forced flirting dialogue. ("Sorry; I have a boyfriend. Did I mention I have a boyfriend? He's a football player. He plays sports. I'm dating the quarterback. Do you know my boyfriend?" This would become a theme.) Also, CDs were given away to certain sections, ones part of the evening's ticket giveaway. (We did not win. Or maybe we did.)
Also, apropos of nothing, we saw this: it's a canine on a chicken with a battering ram beating up a burrito. The kids love that, right? Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks failed to order up a decent baseball game. Between the Reds' Edinson Volquez fidgeting often on the mound as Dusty Baker rode him hard and put him up wet and then both managers switching to situational pitching bingo in the late innings, the kids around us began to fidget. We secretly rooted for chaos and a 14-inning game to push the start of the concert past midnight. When the Reds tied the game again in the top of the ninth, we got our wish and thousands of little girls turned to their parents and asked, "Why are they still playing?" Of course, our answer ("only because they're contractually obligated, honey") probably wasn't the appropriate one. Kids lurched between sugar highs (one child a few rows back screamed without apparent external stimulus for a solid 15 minutes) and sugar crashes (weeping, sleeping, and drinkin... wait, those were the adults). Eventually, though, like all things Dusty, it ended well after it should have with heartbreak all around. The game took four hours to complete 10 innings (!!!), leaving the little darlings waiting for a Jessica Simpson concert until 9:30 local time.
Then the exodus began. At one point, we became concerned that people named "Simpson" might outnumber other people in Chase Field by the time the concert started.
However, as the "stage" was constructed, we noticed the rush for the doors slowing quite considerably. People had moved down to the lower bowl, sure, but there were still many thousands left. (When Miss Simpson stepped up to the stage, she exclaimed, "I didn't expect so many of you to stay!" Neither did we.)
The Fry's VIPs (and is there any more cheapened acronym in America since "RBI"?) filtered onto the field and we were near the moment of truth. How would America's newest country star enter this new stage of her life?
It was at this moment that we realized this would not end well. We did not expect wacky morning DJs. Nothing good can come from wacky morning DJs.
Then the woman of the evening strolls slowly to her stage, sipping from a travel mug and chatting with her handlers. This wasn't a grand introduction; it was an accidental entrance.
She gave an extended introduction to the crowd, managing to mention her boyfriend who plays football a few times. (By the way, the heartiest sounds of the night came from feverishly booing Tony Romo and the Cowboys. She tried to get everyone to agree that hey, we may disagree on the Cowboys, but those Eagles suck, don't they? More boos. Jessica, unless it's reggaeton or Christian rock, it's not a musical football interlude in Phoenix.)
Her sponsors could not have been pleased with what happened next: she sang. Specifically, she sang Nancy Sinatra (so we're getting her Miss Piggy duet?) and then launched into her own tunes. At first, the sound system robbed us of the ability to hear her, but then someone ruined that. She caterwauled, yodeled, and shouted various lyrics breathlessly in a manner that would have cleared the place out if...
... well, actually, she did. As it turned out, the bulk of the "concertgoers" had been gawkers from the game, wondering what to expect from the ingenue emeritus. Once they got a sample (and possibly got in a few mocking shots), they bolted for the exits as if a Marlins game broke out.
Honestly, she tried so hard that our heart broke for her. She flailed wildly, trying to show emotion and effort. She even almost memorized the banter between songs, only failing when asked to tell us which two songs she's loved for so many years that she stole from to make her own song. (By the way, "stole" was her word.) She was simply awful, though. She really only seemed to be genuinely speaking for herself when she talked about her boyfriend and the song she wrote for her boyfriend and she loves her boyfriend. (Of course, according to at least one Philly fan, she might be misguided there, too.)
We stuck it out for a few more songs, hoping for... well, we don't know. Anything to make a happy ending. It didn't happen. When we slipped down to the lower level, one of the ushers shrugged at me and said, "I hope she doesn't plan on selling any albums." However, the Diamondbacks possibly sold baseball to a few more families they need to build a fan base that nearly disappeared in 2004 Also, Jessica might have pulled in a few more fans for her new album and we all know the value of the publicity. Even PepsiCo and Fry's got to associate themselves with sexy wholesomeness. So from a polished and calculated corporate synergistic standpoint, we suppose it wasn't a total loss. On the other hand, all we saw last night was a young woman way in over her head trying her damnedest to hit her spots and sing many of the prescribed notes and name drop as many people as possible to prove to everyone (and especially herself) she belonged wherever she thought she was last night. We really didn't expect that part.