But first, these (not-so) important messages...

In a desperate - and probably futile - attempt to generate some tension over the All-Time #1 Diamondback, I'm delaying that announcement for a day or two. So you can put your tuxedo away for a bit, Russ Ortiz. :-)

Actually, truth be told, I haven't written up the piece yet. And the odds of getting it done today are slim, since we're plotting dinner-and-a-movie later [torn between Hostel and Underworld: Evolution]. The kind of dedicated research that goes into these entries can't be rushed, y'know, what with both the Google search and checking the 2003 edition Diamondbacks Media Guide. [Oh, you think I'm joking? I've vowed not to get an updated version till we hit .500; until then, I'll live in the glory years of World Series and Divisional Titles, even if it means I'm a little vague on who that Bob Melvin guy is. :-)]

Not much happening on the actual Diamondbacks news front - even Steve Gilbert over at mlb.com, spent the week down at the Diamondbacks Fantasy Training Camp - tho' going by his reports, it seems almost like a Fantasy Concentration Camp. Seems to have been a success, and the D'backs, dollar signs in their eyes, said "they will likely raise the price of the camp next year." Certainly beats the "Pay us to work on the groundstaff" campaign from earlier this year.

I did, however, get my World Baseball Classic tickets yesterday; about a month after the originally announced date, they finally started offering single-game admissions, rather than the blocks previously available. Not sure what the delay was: perhaps the "whole Bay of Pigs thing" [a.k.a. Cuba's attendance] needed to be cleared up first, even though they're not playing in Phoenix. Glad Cuba are involved: if they hadn't, the winners would inevitably have had a mental asterisk placed by their name.

Speaking of asterisks, Barry Bonds has announced he's pulling out of the American team. One less reason not to support them - though until the almost as equally-loathsome Derek Jeter pulls out, my interest will remain lacklustre. At least the D'backs do have a couple of reps on the first version of the American roster, in the shape of Gonzo and Craig Counsell. Of course, they might not make the final squad though.

Which - combined with scheduling - is why I'm throwing my fervour behind Canada, eh. The two games I'm seeing both involve our maple-leaf toting neighbours: on Tuesday, they face South Africa at Scottsdale Stadium, and on Wednesday it's the battle for domination of North America, when they play the USA at Chase Field. Looks like I'll be breaking out my vintage (1998) Montreal Canadiens shirt for those games, since I'm not paying $165 for the "authentic" Canada jersey. I'll wait for the post-WBC clearance sale. Either that, or Ebay is my friend. :-)]

Canada actually has a decentish young team, including Jason Bay, Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis and Erik Bedard, as well as Matt Stairs, Corey Koskie, Paul Quantril and Chris Reitsma (plus former D'back Danny Klassen). Unfortunately, the ace in the hole - Eric Gagne - is still not 100% fit, and I suspect will not be available. But a round-robin format like this is tailor-made for shocks, and I'd not be at all surprised if one or more of the less well-known countries pull off a shock victory.

Slightly irritating thing about the ticket purchase: you had to buy Chase Field ones separate from Scottsdale, so needed to type in your info twice - and pay two sets of "convenience fees" and "order charges". But at least neither uses TicketBastard, so those were only a mild rip-off rather than gross extortion, of 40% or more. Chase was better value: $9.50 on $70 worth of tickets, as opposed to Scottdale's $10.50 on $40. But, hey, Scottsdale is run by the Giants, so whaddya expect? I also made very sure to uncheck the box subscribing me to Giants information - presumably the latest Thoughts of Chairman Bazza. Thanks, but no thanks.

Amazingly, even the best seats at Scottsdale cost only $20, which is simply phenomenal value to see the best players in the world. Demand - at least for the non-US games - doesn't seem to have astonishing so far, since I was able to get tickets for Canada-South Africa in section 105, Row C. This is going to be the closest we've ever sat to home plate, so that will be fun in itself. The seats at Chase aren't quite so good, even though they cost almost twice as much, but are still pretty decent.

Be a nice warmup for our regular season games there: currently trying to schedule a get-together with the rest of the season ticket shareholders to draft the games we get. With my current work schedule crossing off all weekend matchups, looks like I'm going to be concentrating on Wednesday and Thursday games. Let's just hope Go Daddy don't see fit to change my schedule...luckily, as I've been there for about a year, I hope I get some kind of tenure.

[As an aside, it's been phenomenally busy there lately: our whole team, who're supposed to do email support, were thrown onto the phones for four hours yesterday. Heaven knows what it'll be like come Superbowl Sunday - we're supposed to be airing an advert, but are having some difficulty getting it past Standards and Practices on the network - ten attempts and still trying. Last year, our advert was pulled from its scheduled second screening - but that got us more (and free) publicity than the advert probably would have done, so I wonder if perhaps our aim is partly more controversy.]

Anyway, don't expect the #1 Diamondback to be announced until Thursday at the earliest. I hope you can stand the suspense until then. :-) There'll be a couple of other lists up between now and then, all being well, so stay tuned...

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