Friday, September 09, 2005

How Much Longer Do We Have Here? 

Not focusing very well on the current moment right now -- I'm spending my time counting down the days to season's end.

That was made easier thanks to the five minutes of Thursday's 12-inning 8-7 Diamondbacks loss to the Pirates that I actually saw. Those five minutes included
a) Wilson's incredibly long at-bat against Worrell, eventually leading to a Troy Glaus error, and
b) Bay's homerun.

That's the kind of five minutes that you're willing to look past in April and May, those carefree months when hope springs eternal and blog postings here are consistent. But in September, with a team whose elimination from the playoffs is all but mathematical, that's the kind of five minutes that causes you to turn off the TV in what passes for disgust in these perspective-filled days and move on to something new.

Which is really too bad, because I should be talking about Dustin Nippert's first big league game, one in which he pitched decently, giving up 3 runs and 5 hits in 5 innings. Even if Nippert had pitched horribly, we should still celebrate his appearance. Playing in the Show, man. It's the kind of work-related ritual most of us don't get to experience. But his decent performance gives us Diamondbacks just a little more hope for the future.

There's still room to get on the bandwagon for 2006-2008. Get on board now for the most comfortable of seats.

(Until then, we get to enjoy a Diamondbacks-Rockies series which begins with a game in which we're starting a former Rockies pitcher and they're starting a former Diamondbacks pitcher. One takes amusement where one can at this point.)

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?