Are we playing *too* well?

Another day, another 16-hit performance. I'm beginning to actually worry about this: what happens if we use up all our hits for the year in Spring Training? I mean, there are basically two possibilities. A) This is going to be the first team to bat .400 collectively for the season. B) We're going to stop hitting like this eventually. Much though I would like to believe the former, it's probably not going to happen. So, enjoy this well-oiled run-scoring machine while it lasts. Estimated time to departure: 24 days.

We clawed back against the Padres yesterday, going behind 3-0 and 8-6, before scoring runs in each of the last three innings to pip them by the odd run in seventeen. Thirteen different players had hits, with Hudson, Gonzalez and DaVanon the only players to double up there. Gonzo also hit his first home-run of the year, which should help relieve the gentle teasing of his team-mates who will, I'm sure, have pointed out Chris Carter already has three times as many as our eight-figure salaried left-fielder.

On the mound, El Duque fought off flu-like symptoms - including, ick, diarrhoea - to pitch three innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, while striking out four. Valverde allowed a run, Bill Murphy got torched for three more in his inning, but Schultz shut the door in the seventh. Brian Bruney was perfect over the last two frames, going six up, six down, albeit without a strikeout. However, Jackson hit a Padre with his throw as the hitter came up the line, while Conor was trying to nail a baserunner at home.

Dustin Nippert will be starting today against the Brewers, and with the lacklustre performances of the lead two candidates, Vargas and Halsey, for the #5 starter's job, another good performance could turn him into a real contender. "He's right there in the next wave," says Bob Melvin, citing Nippert's increased confidence. I do have qualms about this, remembering the last Double-A pitcher to crack the rotation on the back of a good spring training performance: Casey Daigle. While I do believe Nippert is better than that, part of me would not be averse to him getting a good spanking today, just as a reality check.

In the World Baseball Classic, the wheels fell off the Canadian wagon without our support, and they got soundly thrashed by Mexica, 9-1. That whooshing sound you hear is a sigh of relief from the organizers, as it means America have simply to beat South Africa today, to squeak into the second round over Canada, albeit on a tie-breaker. If America had been eliminated, that would have probably been the effective end of interest in this country - witness the acres of coverage given to US-Mexico in the Banana, compared to the single paragraph which the Canada-South Africa game received.

I love many things about this country: the self-obsessed insularity is not one of them. While not limited to sports (world news = about 30 seconds per night), coverage there is, it seems, directly connected to how dominant America is. Probably the two biggest pastimes are the NFL and Nascar, things which the rest of the world, more or less, couldn't give a damn about. Meanwhile, other countries appear, mysteriously, to be capable of enjoying sports at which they suck. See England and cricket - or Scotland and football - for examples...

And check out John's very interesting diary on the right, about baseball's top prospects according to Dayn Perry. While Perry's 2005 infatuation with run differential remains a source of amusement, he seems to have plenty of love for the D'backs, with eight players in the top 66. I'm not sure I'd agree with Perry that Chris Young is the #3 prospect in all of baseball, but I'm not going to argue either! The diary also has a poll on who will win the NL West in 2007. Note the year. I didn't, and voted for the Dodgers. :-(

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