Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Eyes on the Ball 

In my favorite scene from the excellent 1993 movie version of The Fugitive, Harrison Ford's Richard Kimble, trapped at the edge of a sewer drain, pleads with Tommy Lee Jones' Marshal Sam Gerard -- "I didn't kill my wife!," Kimble says. "I don't care," says Gerard, with just a hint of exasperation.

I love Jones' delivery in that line (as did Oscar voters, since he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor that year). Gerard has one task -- bringing in Richard Kimble -- and the little details, such as innocence, are unimportant. His eyes are on the ball.

And, thankfully, the Diamondbacks' eyes appear to actually be on the ball. Heading into Tuesday's game against the Pirates, the Diamondbacks were 8 games out with 24 games to play. Even with some very questionable baserunning by Luis Terrero and Chad Tracy (talk about not keeping eyes on the ball), the Diamondbacks eked out a 12-inning 4-2 victory over the Pirates.

But that's not why I'm happy -- no, I'm happy because Terrero, Alex Cintron, and Conor Jackson all started yesterday's game. We can concoct all sorts of fantasy discussions of how the Diamondbacks could climb back into the NL West race (and, believe me, I've been there), but hopefully this is a sign that the Diamondbacks are willing to put the remote chances of making the playoffs this year on ice with a view to figuring out how (or if) they can make it there next year.

There is no reason why there shouldn't be three non-veterans in the non-battery portion of each and every lineup for the last 23 games of the season. Tony Clark has been, without a doubt, the team's MVP this year -- but Conor Jackson should be getting a ton of at-bats against both lefites and righties. Cintron and Terrero need starts to figure out if they should be around next year. Can Andy Green be a suitable 25th-man? A Clark-Counsell-Clayton-Glaus infield in any of these final 23 games would make virtually no sense to me.

The Diamondbacks thankfully seem to be willing to try some youth on the pitching end as well, starting Dustin Nippert tomorrow night.

By using the call-ups, the Diamondbacks will reap the added benefits of resting the rest of their lineup, which, with the exception of Tracy and Snyder, cannot be associated with the phrase "spring chicken." 2006 could be a special season (read: the Diamondbacks might actually make the playoffs), but that's much more likely if the Diamondbacks realize 2005 won't be.

And besides, the Diamondbacks are still 15 games below .500 -- why not try something new?

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