Thursday, August 11, 2005

Take Back The Fork! 

It's not supposed to be like this, you know. This Diamondbacks squad is just supposed to roll over and give up. Go on a nice 9-game losing streak that finally ends any of these delusions of playing meaningful games in September.

They're not done yet, folks.

Oh, sure for seven innings today it sure looked that way. Wasting a great performance by Brandon Webb, unable to push their lumpy mashed potatoes across the plate, let alone runners.

And then -- BOOM! -- Chad Tracy with a homerun to tie the game and -- SUPERBOOM! -- Troy Glaus with a 2-run homerun. Valverde throws the high heat (97 MPH on at least one pitch) as the new "official" closer in the ninth, and the Diamondbacks escape with a 3-1 win over the Marlins.

With the Padres win, the Diamondbacks are still 4 games out of first, but they're heading into an Atlanta series without a pitcher that puts absolute fear into me (though Jorge Sosa's record and ERA are somewhat daunting). Of course, the Braves could probably say the same thing about our squad.

I'll try to follow the games, but it may be hard, to say nothing of blogging. Back on Monday.

In the meantime, have a good weekend and Go Diamondbacks!

Eyes on the Ball 

You probably think this is a post about Luis Terrero, don't you? Picked off third in Wednesday's 10-5 Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins, the victim of the hidden ball trick played to perfection by Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell.

And you'd be wrong.

Look, clearly Terrero deserves criticism for being fooled by the play, which effectively ended the Diamondbacks' eighth inning, which otherwise would have continued with the D-Backs having runners on 1st and 3rd, trailing by just one run.

But what about Brad Halsey, giving up 8 hits and 6 runs in just 5 innings of work -- is he hitting "the wall"? What about the defense -- 4 errors? What about Tim Worrell, whose nickname -- "The Grandfather" -- inspires fear and trembling in exactly nobody, and certainly not the Marlins, who teed off for 3 hits and 3 walks in in just 2/3rds of an inning? Maybe they, uh, deserve more of the blame for a 10-5 loss, than a man who went 2 for 3 with a walk and got caught by the Roger Clemens of the hidden ball trick -- Mike Lowell was the last man who pulled it off, late last season.

If the Diamondbacks don't make the playoffs this year, I don't think that was the turning point, as was stated by The Republic.

This not paying attention to the matters at hand applies also to the denizens of this fabulous Internet, who have stopped by this fair Diamondbacks blog by the bushelfull, in search of any information they can track down about Mark Grace's profanity and expletive-laced discussion during Tuesday's broadcast. Nothing in the history of this blog can match the intensity of interest in finding out what Mark Grace said. Not "Last of the Metrozoids," not the Diamondback blogger's best friend, the once- and future-Diamondback Casey Daigle (or "Mr. Jennie Finch," as he was known) could match this. It's been my equivalent (on a very small scale, of course) of Ashlee Simpson on "Saturday Night Live," Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl, Paris Hilton at, well, anywhere.

You people.

It's like you've never heard anybody cuss before. Knowing Gracie like we do (in other words, barely at all), I think we can feel confident that there were words that included the letter "f." C'mon, this was a guy who said, hoisting the 2001 World Champsionship Trophy, "Party at Gracie's house! Everyone's invited!" You can't really be surprised that Grace would swear, would you? And it's not like you can't hear swear words other places on your TV dial.

Keep your eyes on the #@$@^! ball, people.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Out of Sight... 

... and out of mind.

The advantage of watching the Diamondbacks lose 5-0 to the Florida Marlins in Miami Tuesday night is that it's real easy to not watch the Diamondbacks. 4 PM starts are easy to ignore, as are 3-hit performances by your favorite squad of ballplayers.

It's quite difficult to find positives from such a shellacking... oh, wait, the bullpen pitched 3 innings of scoreless ball. There you go. Of course, it's akin to a stellar performance by the junior varsity in a preseason game. It means something, but not much. The only other news from the game is that Conor Jackson didn't hit 2 homeruns in his start. But we didn't expect that to happen every start, now did we?

Javier Vazquez's less-than-stellar performance makes me dwell on his future with the team. Vazquez is scheduled to make, what, $12 or $13 million next year? Could the Diamondbacks put that money to better use in the free-agent pitching market in the offseason? After a merely adequate season such as this one, could the Diamondbacks get anyone of value in return for Vazquez's $25+ million 2-year contract? Would Vazquez be happy with any team that could offer the Diamondbacks someone valuable? And with Vazquez's merely adequate season, he's likely to not bother to declare himself a free agent, as he has the ability to do later this offseason. (Then again, with the slim free-agent pitching pickings, he might very well be able to get a similar contract for more years with a team of his choosing.) For many reasons, it would've been better for everyone concerned if he'd gone 13-7 rather than 9-11.

Many roster moves -- Stinnett off the DL, Gosling down to Tucson, the upcoming Ortiz activation and likely Hill return to Tucson. Plus, the Republic speculates that Brandon Lyon could be coming off the DL as early as this weekend. Add to those moves upcoming activations of Villarreal and Estes, and if I were in the Diamondbacks' bullpen, I wouldn't be making close friends anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This Time We Really Mean It 

How many times this season have the Diamondbacks been faced with a series that would truly show what kind of team they were? That they really weren't very good, the doubters would say.


Let's see... there was late April... and I think early June... and the series against the Padres after the All-Star Break... and probably a couple others in there (I'm on vacation, so I'm not required to be thinking at full speed right now.)

And how did the Diamondbacks respond? Well, invariably they responded with indifference. Maybe we'll play well for a while, and we definitely won't completely tank (so there, doubters), the Diamondbacks would seem to say, but they'd never "carpe diem" either.

And so here we are, almost in the middle of August, and the Diamondbacks face yet another Myers-Briggs of a road trip in which we'll find out what kind of team they are -- really, we mean it this time.

And I have every reason to believe that the Diamondbacks, just as they've shown a disturbing tendency to play down to the level of their opponents this season (the Pirates, the Royals, the Reds, and, this past weekend, the Rockies), with a record not far under .500, have also shown the ability to play with, well, good teams. So I actually think they'll make it out of this road trip at 6-6 or 5-7.

San Diego had a good series against the Nationals, so it's hard to tell whether they're completely cured once more, or if that was just luck. But the Diamondbacks could leave for its next road trip to San Diego on August 29 no further out of first than they are now (3 games out) and it would surprise me no more than if they traveled there 8 games out.

Unlike last year, where we knew what we had with the Diamondbacks (and it wasn't good), this year we're tossed enough flashes of brilliance that we're left wanting, even though we all expected this team to win around 75 games. As managers of expectations, the Diamondbacks aren't very good this year.