Results tagged ‘ Baseball Trips ’

Look Who I Just Incapacitated!

Disposing_of_derrick_3_3 I had had it with the so-called "interview". The talk, talk, talk. Diamondbacks’ President Derrick Hall going on and on ( and on ) about his fan friendly "this" and family friendly "that", with that chiseled smile of his.

I guess I just snapped. I dont know what to say to the D*Back faithful , other than Derrick wont be as "accessible" this season.  I didnt mean for it to end like this – in fact, my son initially tagged along to help diffuse the unbearable mix of Hall’s oil and Diamondhacks‘ vinegar, but wound up photographing (and abetting) my regrettable William Ligue Jr moment. 

Hall was right about one thing – he bleeds Sedona Red alright. My regret? Only that I couldnt knock that smile off his face.

Needless to say, we saw ourselves out.                                        

(to be continued)

Stepping Out Of The Box

Tedwilliamskissesbat_1It’s been said that when Ted Williams strode into the left handed batters box at Fenway Park, he never once left it until his At Bat was officially over. No fussy rituals, adjusting one piece of equipment or another, or compulsive contrivances to regain focus. No point in that, if you’ve never lost focus to begin with.  Williams’ obsession was hitting, and once he locked into that 60’6" visual frame of reference, nothing could distract from that task.  For two decades, this unrelenting sense of purpose ensured Williams’ consistent success.   

If that approach applies to fans as well as players, then I guess this sweep is on us. This, apparently, is what happens when you abandon your team in October for a ritual as frivilous and fussy as a New England foliage tour. You get swept faster than you can say "Splendid Splinter". Like a bunch of leaves in a gale. Or as that nepotistic, sing songy head of hair, Dip Caray, inarticulated every other inning, you get "swept away" – like someone in love, evidently. Serves us right, I suppose, slurping buttery chowdah in the very shadow of Fenway,******** down steamers Down East without a cable connection in sight, while our diamond boys were starving for measly two out knocks three time zones away. Feel free to vent. This one’s on us.

Speaking of sweeps, how did Rockie Blowingleavesfans sneak that many brooms past Coors Field security? If this was Boston or San Francisco, we imagine ticketed locals could easily hide the sticks up their rears by force of habit, but Denver’s hardly that "upstanding" a town. In this officious era of homeland security, that sea of long handled brooms wielded by frostbitten drunks remains very much a Rocky Mountain mystery.

Seriously, a hearty congratulations to Rockie fans. Few triumphs bolster civic pride like a scrappy underdog advancing to it’s first Classic, and nothing knits a community closer than having garbage thrown at your team. Colorado hasnt had much to cheer about since the first Clinton administration – come to think of it, that makes several billion of us – and like long suffering loyalists in Cleveland or even Philly, Rockie fans just arent easy to hate. At least not yet.

Broom6I feel pretty detached from baseball right now. Sure, the sweep is a big part of it, but it honestly started before that. I thoroughly enjoyed the two NLDS games when in town, but once the family embarked on our New England pleasure trip, my Diamondbacks kind of faded into the background. Part of the reason, I think, is that there’s no big city villain, like the Dodgers or Mets here, transforming a relatively straightforward series into a David and Goliath morality play. This Colorado brush by hurts much less than the 1999 NLDS loss to the Mets, or if the Yankees had managed to pull out the rollercoasterish 2001 Series. Colorado’s angle was just as storybook as our own, and while I wanted the Diamondbacks to win, I’m neither surprised nor all that disappointed or hurt when they didnt.

Secondly, Arizona never really belonged in the playoffs to begin with. Oh, I know they won enough games and all that and I rooted for them to go all the way (when I wasnt gorging on lobster rolls in Rockland), but the truth was the Diamondbacks were a competitive but not very good team all year – at least not by widely accepted, holistic underlying measures. They were, at best, an average team in a very weak league that played uncharacteristically well in close games – until… they didnt. By virtue of established tools like ERA+/ OPS+ and run differential, it’s entirely reasonable to propose that the team with the National League’s best record, was, statistically speaking, no better than the seventh or eighth best team in the NL, and certainly no better than third in their division. ( If one goes strictly by run differential, and I dont think I would with this particular team, they’re slightly worse than that.)

So, as constructed and paid for, this was a spunky team you pull for, all the while knowing they’re playing on borrowed time. Eric Byrnes, the number three batter by default, was right when he said the Rockies caught a bunch of breaks this series. They did, and it helped them sweep the Diamondbacks so convincingly. Byrnes said the Dbacks "played better" and while that may be a bit of wishful thinking, it’s not outlandish.  The Dbacks had a better team BA and OPS in the series – mostly, they couldnt deliver clutch hits – and that can be a function of bad luck, or, luck plus not having enough good hitters in your lineup. In other words, maybe the "lucky" part of the Dbacks NLCS performance was the fact they outhit a superior offensive club in this short series, and Arizona’s relative inability to deliver with RISP, as one sided as it was, was actually more in line with the two teams’ relative seasonal performances.  Where did the Diamondbacks rank during the regular season in BA with RISP? Well, they didnt hit .163 or whatever it was, but they were dead last in the National League. They were who we thought they were. No surprises.

All the same, I dont think Eric said anything terribly wrong. What is wrong, in my view, is the silent inference some might make, that the Diamondbacks were somehow the better team who lost only because of "luck", when the truth is this motley crew of overacheiving veterans and not quite ready youngsters feebly strung together hits all year like a blind, arthritic man stringing a delicate pearl necklace. They didnt score runs.

Amidst defeat, there was also something mildly, and perversely, satisfying about seeing a doormat franchise stick with it’s basic godawful color scheme from 1993 and be rewarded with hordes of purple clad fans braving thirty degree wind chill to, in part, reciprocate that loyalty. Too bad that garish looking team with the unified fan base headed to the Series wasnt us. Well, in 2001, it was us, but that’s water under the bridge, or perhaps a horse of a different color. Maybe the baseball gods had input here, or maybe the Rockies were just better, but baseball history tells us Coors rafters will be proudly cloaked in original indigo, not painted over couleur du jour by soulless marketers.

We had a memorable time in Boston (the Yankees were eliminated while we were there) and with my brother up in Maine, and Diamondhacks will chronicle it before long; the disappointing Fenway Tour, Landsdowne Street during the ALCS, and other observations from the opposite side of our country. But today we acknowledge the Diamondbacks, one of the worst teams you’re likely to see in a League Championship Series. The worst hitting team in the National League, bar none. Who, despite all that, despite cynicism here and elsewhere, somehow made a fabulous second half run and gave Arizona fans a glimpse, perhaps, of better days to come. We promise, we’ll never step out of the box again.

Did I mention the foliage around Penobscot Bay was absolutely fabulous?

Sorry.

(photo courtesy of sabr.org, viewimages.com, artvision.com)

Final Road Trip “Non-Essential”

Full_rove1 In deference to President Bush’s request for Americans to conserve energy, the Diamondhacks cancelled today’s charter flight to Los Angeles, and will not play the final six scheduled games of the season.

  Attendance is already down 460,000 from last year, when we fielded the worst NL team since the 1965 Mets, so this road trip clearly fits the President’s definition of ‘non-essential’ travel according to a Diamondhacks spokesman.

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