Thursday, September 16, 2004

OK, I Couldn't Resist 

I know it's the Rockies.  I know that 3 in a row is no big deal to anything remotely resembling a regular team.  I know that it's scary that I don't want Stephen Randolph to pitch, but I do want to bring him back as a pinch-hitter next year.  But the D-Backs fought back from two deficits and they've won 3 in a row.  Yay.

Out of Pocket 

I will be out of town and in all likelihood unable to post Friday through Monday. As we are already losing to Colorado and head to St. Louis for a 3-game set, this is probably a good thing for my psyche. Enjoy the weekend, y'all.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

... or, in other words, Barry Bonds, Al Pedrique, and Bud Selig.

I was going to write an extended piece on the tempest in a teapot regarding Bonds' 700 homeruns, but lack the time. So here's the briefer version. (Rereading it, it's still not so brief.)

To begin with, the debate over the debate over whether or not Bonds will be the MVP amuses me because it reflects the argument over how you should value ballplayers. The BCS attempts to take all sorts of different criteria for selecting the 2 top teams, and, in the end, if the computers don't agree with what the fans think, to hell with 'em. So while you can argue about Win Shares and VORP and whatever, it doesn't matter, because there are still going to be fans who think that to be MVP you need to be on a playoff-winning team, or hit home runs, or be a nice guy. And there's no reason to say they're wrong or right.

Still, my theory is this:

2004 San Francisco Giants = 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks + Barry Bonds

How do I get this? Simple. Barry Bonds makes up (as of 9/9) about 20.5% of the Giants' Win Shares. Believing as I do that Win Shares shouldn't always use actual records but instead Pythagenport records, the San Francisco Giants not named Barry Bonds have 180 Win Shares. The D-Backs' Pythagenport-ized Win Share total? 169. Pretty close, eh? You know who's got my vote. (But can you imagine the endorsement deals Bonds would have if he had a friendly public persona? Seriously, he could be making Jordan-like money.)

In any case, I wanted to talk about homeruns, so let me say this.

Al Pedrique should only be criticized for not pitching to Bonds until the game was out of reach. In my mind, that makes only the last at-bat on Saturday night questionable. As for the rest of the intentional walks, you can argue that those aren't the best strategy (others have) or that the young pitching staff should develop confidence by pitching to him, but those are debatable points with merit on both sides.

Pedrique's comment that he didn't want the team and the fans demoralized by giving up the 700th homerun might not have been the wisest thing to say (and how can it be OK to boost morale by wanting to pitch to Bonds but not OK to be afraid of the possible loss of morale by giving up the homerun?), but to equate the comment with possible tampering as Selig did seems just stupid.

Finally, 700 is just a fairly meaningless way-station on the way to meeting and exceeding 714 and 755. (Do you know how many NFL running backs have 15,000 yards or NBA players have 25,000 points?) It's unlikely either number will be challenged in the heat of a pennant race, and thank goodness for that, because if you think the scrutiny is bad now, just wait 'til then.

Just Two More To Go... 

... and Randy Johnson will be the #1 all-time strikeout king!

(What, you thought I was going to talk about Barry Bonds? Later today. Really.)

Another dominant performance by Randy on his way to surpassing Steve Carlton on the all-time strikeout list, taking over #3 (and #1 among lefties). Congratulations to Randy on his 11 strikeouts and, just as importantly, the win.

Sure, the D-Backs only scored 3 runs, but for once it held up, Aquino pitched a solid 9th, and no errors.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I Gotta Stop Watching Vinnie Castilla 

I watched portions of last night's game, including the top of the 6th and 8th. In the 6th, it appeared Gosling was running out of gas after an excellent start, and although he induced Castilla to hit a ground ball for a possible double play, it had eyes, and it knotted the game up at 2-2. (I turned it off because Fetters came running in and I couldn't bear to watch.) Then, in the 8th, Koplove, who's had a bad stretch of late, had a throwing error, a walk, and gave up another RBI single to Castilla, thereby tying it up at 3-3. I didn't bother to stay up for the eventual end in the 13th inning, Hillenbrand getting another RBI to deliver a 4-3 victory over the Rockies. Gotta give it up to the pitching staff, though. Aside from Koplove, solid pitching all around. Wish the offense had turned 13 hits and 2 walks into more than just 4 runs, but it's a win, and I'm not complaining.

More on Barry Bonds, Al Pedrique, and Bud Selig later.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


While some teams preferring throwing chairs at fans, in Arizona we merely rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic that is the 2004 Diamondbacks season. Of course, it would be much harder to actually hit a fan by throwing a chair at BOB, seeing as there were only 22,000 or so in attendance for the 9-2 loss to the Rockies.

And, frankly, the home team bullpen probably has more to worry about from vociferous fans than the visiting bullpen. The D-Backs gave up 5 home runs to the Rockies, and 4 of them were served up by the relief staff. It seems like the offense got the message that we were just playing the Rockies, but the pitching staff thought we were playing them at Coors Field.

You know, I literally only listened to 2 pitches on the radio broadcast last night... and they were the back-to-back home runs to Castilla and Burnitz off Cormier in the 5th inning. In September, for a team with 100 losses, that was enough to get me to turn the radio off...

In case you were wondering, there's nothing new to report on negotiations with Stephen Drew (last article at bottom).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Back in the swing, sort of... 

I tried to post Saturday, but it didn't appear until Sunday night, which may have confused anyone who tried reading the previous post.

Seems a bit late to comment much on Saturday and Sunday games. Saturday's game (a 5-3 loss to the Giants) had the following headling in the Arizona Republic -- "Walks give Bonds record, Giants win" -- and I chuckled, knowing that this was the prototypical Stephen Randolph outing. Sunday's game was a 5-2 loss, highlighted (or low-lighted, whatever) by Bonds' 699th homerun and Jason Schmidt announcing his return to the Cy Young race by retiring 21 batters in a row.

So here are a couple other thoughts:
-- Can somebody -- anybody -- please tell me what Alan "The Lion In" Zinter is doing batting cleanup? (Sorry, I'm giving him a nickname because I don't think he's ever going to do anything to merit a SportsCenter reference.) I'm at an utter loss. Was Josh Kroeger unavailable? I'm not sure the man should be in the lineup (or even in Phoenix), but I just want to know the reasoning, spurious or otherwise, that would lead him to be batting cleanup...
-- Attendance: For the year, attendance is down 8%. With Colorado, Milwaukee, and San Diego the final three home series, I suspect the year-end numbers will be a little worse (I don't see the D-Backs averaging 34,000 for those three series). But again, context is important here. Of the 13 teams the D-Backs have played both in Arizona and at their parks, if you compare attendance here and there, attendance was higher in Arizona for 7 of those series. Arizona stills ranks 14th in MLB for home attendance and 13th in total attendance. I'm not saying this is great; I'm just saying that it's pretty good when you consider the season the Diamondbacks have had. I'll have more thoughts on attendance in the offseason...

Sunday, September 12, 2004

No News Is Bad News 

I was out of town the past three days, which meant that I only got the briefest of glimpses of D-Backs-related news.  An early morning Republic on Wednesday, then the occasional glimpses on TV tickers.  (On which I always seemed to focus attention after they showed the D-Backs-Dodgers score.)  From what I did see, it appeared the D-Backs played the Dodgers close, but just couldn't hold leads in the later innings.  I haven't checked any box scores, so I have no idea if those were the result of collapses by the starters or the bullpen.

I got back to town about 9:50 or so last night, which, judging by the box score in the paper this morning, was probably about 5 minutes before the D-Backs-Giants game ended.  So clearly my fear that the D-Backs-Dodgers series would be great for the Diamondbacks in my absence was not just wrong, but 180-degrees wrong.  The D-Backs need me in town, judging by the fact that they won, 2-1.  (Which does not bode well for next weekend's series, as I'll be gone then, too.)

Randy Johnson pitched another very good game and got very little offensive support.  Koplove and Aquino pitched a shaky 8th and 9th inning, but got out of the innings unscathed.  And Doug "War -- What Is It Good" DeVore hit the game-winning 2-run homerun.  DeVore, who appeared to be about the worst of the Sidewinder callups, won Randy Johnson the game.  Were the team 93-48 instead of 48-93 (or, heck, even 73-68), whoulda-thunk-it game-winning hits by DeVore and other scrubs would be much more common.  As it is, DeVore's homerun stands out by its absence.

And Barry didn't hit his 699th or 700th.  But up against Stephen Randolph tonight?  Barry could get 701...