Results tagged ‘ 2007 NLDS ’
No. This isnt about the Cubs or Yankees. This is about prescheduling a family vacation during the playoffs. October is usually so free around here. Turns out there’s only one October. Who knew?
We’ll be in and around Boston, where my latest Frommer guide tells me Internet hasnt really caught on, so no updates for a week. In the interim, those interested in superior Diamondbacks **** should consult their local listings or the blogs listed in the sidebar at right.
I brilliantly planned our visit so that we will be in Boston on the exact days the Red Sox are in Anaheim, and we will depart Boston for the wilds of Maine the very day the Sawx return to "Fenway", a professional sports facility just up the street fom our hotel. Oh well. I’m certain touring an empty shell of Fenway is at least as cool as watching a game there. They say the steel pillars and restrooms are what really make the place.
Gosh, I should take note of Game 2 before I go. Great fun to be there, but not quite the sustained electricity of Game 1. For one thing, the score wasnt as close and the game took considerably longer to play, due to the various pitchers’ styles and relative ineffectiveness. The upper deck sections in the corners (301 & 330) were speckled with green all night, and after Brandon Lyon escaped the eighth unscathed, up four, a surprising number of fans vacated the lower bowl to presumably beat traffic. The in house celeb Wednesday was none other than Muhammed Ali. Thursday was Donovan McNabb. ’nuff said.
But the win counts just as much, maybe more, considering so many expected Lilly to outpitch Doug Davis. Game 1 wasnt a must game for Chicago – it was a "nice to have". They needed game two. You know who the heroes were and can read about them on other blogs. Davis. Chris Short Young. And Augie "Shorter" Ojeda. As I close my bag for Boston with all my little essentials, allow me to close with a few of the Diamondbacks’ little things last night.
Eric Byrnes hit a double off the left field wall that Alfonso Soriano misplayed into a triple. Well, Soriano basically dropped it more than misplayed it into an extra base. Byrnes took the extra base. Later, Soriano hit a bullet to almost the exact same spot on the wall. Byrnes didnt catch it, but fielded it flawlessly and held the fleet Soriano to a single. Not a double. A single. Just sayin’…
Dback fans like to joke about how shaky Jose Valverde is – and he certainly can be. Allowed a couple runners on a walk and error with Chicago’s two best hitters up back to back. He whiffed them, back to back. People, that’s why he’s the closer.
During one of Justin Upton’s at bats, the centerfield scoreboard indicated that Upton had scored two runs in the NLDS without the benefit of a hit. One was on Doug Davis’s safety squeeze, a good but not particularly great bunt. Upton crossed the plate standing up, something you almost never see on a safety squeeze. His catch off Soto, in front of the 413 sign in right center, was even more impressive. The ball caught some air but was tagged to the furthest reaches of right center. Scratch that. That’s basically center field out there. Forget "right center". The kid ran forever but the really sick thing was how easy he made it look, waiting for the ball as it came down.
Many Diamondbacks are doing less than obvious things, little things, to help this team accomplish big things. Lets hope they pack those essentials in their bags on the trip to Chicago. Dont need oversized baggage or that flashy extra carryon. Just pack the little things in a plain suitcase. Every man.
Although I already wrote about my NLDS Game 1 experience, I wanted to make a separate entry about Jerry Colangelo and his ceremonial first pitch before the game. First of all, I missed it. Sitting in traffic. It’s funny how Diamondhacks has been calling for a public reconciliation between the previous and current ownerships for years now, more stridently than perhaps anywhere else, yet when the symbolic invitation is offered, accepted and finally realized, we’re like the last Americans to know. Ah, television and traffic, you make fools of us all!
I could talk about this all day, but frankly, I’ve got a load things to do in preparation for a family trip to Boston tomorrow. Maybe I’ll elaborate more in the off season, but suffice it to say that Ken Kendrick did the right thing, whether this was mostly a business decision, or personal, or some of both. And Jerry did the right thing by accepting. People who were in their seats before first pitch told me he got a great reception. I’m hardly surprised, but I’m glad. Glad that enough fans not only cherish the championship, but appreciate that today’s lofty thrills, indeed the Phoenix franchise itself, would be all but impossible without Colangelo and the foundation he built here. He had his excesses, he made his mistakes, but Randy Johnson is looking at the guy who not only turbochaged Johnson’s personal place in history, but who also turbocharged the city of Phoenix with an historically successsful baseball expansion franchise.
Take a look at Randy’s uncharacteristic body language in the picture. Johnson is the most valuable player in Diamondbacks history, but he knows he’s looking at the most valuable person.
Kudos to the fans in the background, on their feet, and to Ken Kendrick for initiating the call to make it happen. It’s something he didnt have to do, and something I wasnt expecting. Like the time, ten years ago, when most everyone in the ballpark knew Colangelo would throw out the first ball, christening his Diamondbacks’ franchise at that glorious inaugural game. Instead, Jerry picked two shocked kids from the upper deck, a boy and a girl, to symbolize that in baseball, as in life, anything is possible. With leadership and love.
(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Note: This is not a game summary, but merely chronicles one local’s experience at Game 1 of the NLDS. )
Took the boy to Game 1 of the NLDS and had a blast. Didnt start off great, with the worst ballgame entry traffic I can recall – and I grew up in New York. Maybe ubiqitous light rail construction along one’s favored route, with the Cubs in town, will do that. SR51 was backed up all the way to Indian School – it took 55 minutes to get from Bethany Home to the ballpark, normally a 20 minute trip, even for a crowded weekend game. Our favorite sleepy little lots and pullouts in the warehouse district, east of the stadium, were auto-filled, flashing meter maids ticketing hundreds perched unevenly on curbs and easements.
We saw the glow and smoke of pregame fireworks from the car, as I impatiently shelled out a Jackson for a garage space of last resort. That’s never a good feeling, hearing the crowd when you’re not there yet, but we hustled to the gate and at least didnt miss any game action. While walking the centerfield concourse, the Dbacks took the field and the 2007 NL West banner was unfurled right over our heads. The roar from the crowd was…well, it was spectacular, like it had been a long time coming. As we strode to our bleacher seats, my son and I silently glanced at each other, corners of our mouths smiling, knowing this would be a special night.
By my count, about 2/3 Dbacks fans vs 1/3 Cubs overall, but the Cubs fans were very vocal, making for a lively mix of shoutdowns and cheering. And Dbacks fans were as loud and engaged as I’ve ever heard them. It was just a marvelous atmosphere. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano took quite a bit of gas from our section, but one Dbacks fan in particular made me laugh out loud. When Soriano returned to his position after whiffing on a Webb sinker in the dirt, this guy in a golf cap repeatedly pantomimed an exaggerated, slow motion golf swing, pulling his head way off the ball. I’m sure it’s an old joke, but he was tall, very visible and the stiffness of his movements, the dorky way he looked off into space before his backswing even began, really hit my funny bone. He did it again and again and Soriano must’ve seen him.
There was a mildly obnoxious Cubs fan right behind me, who was gratuitiously negative about the Dbacks all night and who’d yell stuff like “Sit down, loser!” when Zambrano retired Brandon Webb – as if Webb were Babe Ruth or Micah Owings. Whatever, dude. But most of the Cubs fans in the bleachers were really great. Vocal without being profane, centered on the team and the game instead of on their own dysfunctional egos. Soused midwesterners who made a point of not bumping you as they moved past, to down and drain more beer on the concourse. Better than most Dbacks fans, honestly.
How mad can you really get at folks who root so passionately despite such limited historical success? I have respect for these people, their curious allegiance, the way they wear their hearts on their pinstriped sleeves, that I cannot muster for Yankee or Red Sox fans. They exude great desire and energy without the obvious payoff or oblivious entitlement. Even when a Cub rowdy says objectively the same thing as a Yankee fan, it’s less obnoxious somehow.
The game itself, wasnt an all time classic in terms of astounding play or back n forth drama, in that the Cubs never took the lead and there’s really no bona fide villain (ie Yankees, Dodgers, Barry Bonds) or lightning rod here. But it was quite well played, close throughout, and was an extremely well paced (2:33) playoff game – almost like watching a hockey or basketball contest with very few whistles. Every single at bat was important, the crowd tensed with every pitch, and then exhaled.
For nine innings, we didnt leave our seats, other than to stand between frames. You didnt want to miss anything, on the field or in the seats. In the seventh, I uncharacteristically joined in on “God Bless America”. It’s not my favorite song for a variety of reasons, but Wednesday I, and almost 50 thousand others, felt like singing. I felt not only glad to be there with my son, but privileged, and it was my tiny way of saying Thanks – to somebody out there.
After the game, we waited in our seats a good 15 minutes for the bleachers to completely clear out. We were parked on the roof level of the right field garage and knew it would be a while before cars on the levels below started flowing out. So we meandered slowly to the garage, up the stairs, where deluded drivers, radios blasting and air conditioners dripping, sped to form an immobile queue, that didnt budge for forty minutes. Instead, we and about a hundred others, stood on the still warm concrete roof, chatting about the game, listening to fire engines and sporadic, celebratory car horns. Headlamps inched over the hump of the Seventh Street bridge to the west, and roaring lights above us from Sky Harbor in the east, as the marvelous aroma of dawn’s freshly baked bagels wafted through the air from the Chompies plant below.
A full hour passed from the time Jose Valverde retired the side til we actually hopped in our car, a mere hundred yards away. The boy was due in school that morning, but we were in no hurry, up on the roof. No hurry at all. Watching, listening and breathing in a city, our city, on this night.
(photo courtesy of rick scuteri/AP)
Since I’ll be at tonight’s NLDS game and not serving up the usual hash here, Diamondhacks’ loyal horde (hi Mom!) is encouraged to channel it’s collective enthusiasm towards any of these fine online establishments.
For lively, real-time fan threads, we recommend Az Snakepit or Bleed Cubbie Blue, depending on where one bases his or her balls. Passionate, informed insight abounds at Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes – and decidedly "un-American" musings at Arizona via Slough – both worth a trip and proof that Diamondbacks faithful aren’t so much one "nation" as we are "The World".
Like the Yankees, we eschew and digest mere nations for breakfast, "owning" as we do, select apartments in Oakland and isolated sectors north and west of London, the way they dominate China, India, Japan and the Jerome Avenue corridor. It’s basically a wash.
I am something of a virgin when it comes to cheering on a fiscally responsible outfit, so I wouldnt dream of wearing red. Purple or black? Hmmm. I feel like a giddy schoolgirl at my first wedding reception! Let me know on the colors, as I’m too excited to decide for myself. Oh, I’m extra large and have been draped as an "autumn", if that helps.
My kid is getting over a cough, so I hope he can go with me. We played hooky in 2001, which was mandatory to accomodate Dad’s overblown, life culminating passion play – but this time it’s more of a fun thang. ****, it’s only the Cubs. We’ll see. We’re ticketed near the Dbacks pen, and hope to cheer on Brandon and Byrnsie, Aww-Gee and Chris Short Young, when not sneering at our pinstriped "guests" and the usual scarlet battalions.
Prediction. I hope I’m wrong, but Cubs in three. Sorry. But how will the Diamondbacks score runs, now that Piniella has gone to a three man, and replaced Jason Kendall behind the plate with a kid who can actually throw? I know we’re scoring more lately and are confident, loose, but the Cubs are tightening up. I know the Dbacks beat up Jake Peavy in a big game earlier in the year, but generally speaking, Arizona’s offense has been underwhelming against quality pitching – and the Cubs have plenty of that. Memo: John Van Benschoten and his Pirate "relief" corps have officially left the building. Only Conor Jackson has a penchant for smacking around dominant right handers, so of course, he’s not starting against Zambrano. Far be it from me to question Mr Bob Melvin in 2007, which is, not coincidentally, the Chinese Year of the Melvin. Perhaps BoMel has another fortune cookie with CoJack’s future inside:
Pinch hitter’s patience will be rewarded with late inning glory. Oh, and nice lady can wax your eyebrows, cheap. (555-1412)
Chicago finally has all three impact hitters playing together. Webb may be able to dance around the cracks in that lineup and the volatile Zambrano could falter, in which case it might emerge as a great series, but if the Diamondbacks cant score today (Zambrano didnt allow a run in his previous two starts), Brandon wont get that second start. Indeed, the entire progression of the series is riding on this game. If the Diamondbacks win, the Cubs will hear Billy Goats and anything can happen. If the Cubs win today, have a broom at the ready.
(photos courtesy of nwherald.com, intrelocation.com)
It’s really hard to believe, isn’t it? The Mets, with Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Pedro Martinez wake up this morning scrounging for their playoff lives. Same with Philly and their seven MVP candidates. Yet the Diamondbacks, led by Augie Ojeda and Conor Jackson, whoever they are, have somehow sewn up the league’s best record and homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs. It almost doesnt seem real.
There’s no precedent for a team to be outscored (slightly) by its opposition over a 162 game schedule and still manage the best W/L mark in a sixteen team league. It’d be like that whiny kid in high school who never got laid all of a sudden being elected homecoming King. It just doesnt make sense.
At this rate, we hardly know what to expect later today and tomorrow. Maybe the other playoff teams will forfeit upcoming games with Arizona due to some technicality, or Daron Sutton will win an Emmy. Be prepared for anything.
Let’s not make too much fun of the Mets. They could be beating us down in the NLCS a week from now, like a dusty carpet remnant. Or, we could be laughing at them even harder tomorrow. It’s just too early to tell.
People, important people, advise me that we’re playing the Cubs anyway, which simplifies things, because we can safely laugh at the Cubs and their fans anytime. The Cubs play in pajamas and their fan base is doughy and undiscerning.