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Welcome to the SnakePit

Since we're in spring training, when new position players and pitcher have a chance to shine, it seems fitting to add "bloggers" to the list, and christen the AZ SnakePit with its first entry. I look forward to many seasons of writing here, buy before I get into the regular business of reporting on the Arizona Diamondbacks, figure I should give you some background. While some of you have probably followed me across from my "indie" blog, But It's a Dry Heat, others will be seeing my prose for the first time, and would probably appreciate some explanation of what the heck is going on here.

Firstly, I'm British. I may live in America, be married to an American, and reporting on an American sport, but I still write in English, at least as far as spelling goes. I try and avoid referring to petrol, bonnet and boot (that's gas, hood and trunk for American car-owners), but colour has a "u" in it, theatre ends in an "e", and as for aluminIum...let's not go there. :-) Just be grateful you don't have to listen to my pronounciation of words like "vitamin", a source of endless amusement to my stepkids.

So, while most Arizona fans (and, indeed, residents) are transplants from other teams, I'm a transplant from another country, and didn't have any major baseball allegiance before the D'backs; guess I'm about as close to a "true" fan as they have! I moved out to Phoenix permanently in 2000, but remember on a 1997 trip, peering into a downtown building site and imagining how the field would look...though I later discovered I was looking at the wrong place. Oops.

Regardless, I've been an Arizona supporter since before Andy Benes threw the first pitch in 1998, and have followed the team through thick and thin. For example, I proposed to my wife, Chris, immediately after the Diamondbacks won Game 7 of the 2001 World Series (and had to do so twice, because there was so much noise around us, she didn't hear what I said the first time), on the basis that was the only way the world could get better. I was right: baseball has been a solid part of our life together ever since, so Chris's name will crop up irregularly, as will those of the kids, Robert and Emily.

Also expect mentions of the multiple non-baseball related projects and hobbies with which we're involved. For an idea, check out, our pop culture and film website; Comedy SlamFest, the biggest stand-up comic contest in the state;, home of the action heroine; and, the mail-order bead supplier that keeps a roof over our head. Movies, music, comedy, sports entertainment (pro wrestling + roller-derby) and beads are all an integral part of my life, so expect no less here.

My blogging exploits started back in April 2003, when I realised no-one else seemed to doing it for the D'backs. While others have since joined the fray - some of them very good writers - I'm proud to say I've been doing this for the team longer than any other active blogger. Yet I remain first and foremost a fan, and this will show in my pieces. If you want cold, dispassionate analysis, this is not the place to come; I've too much invested (in both financial, with a closet full of shirts, and emotional senses!) in this team for that. But I'm no sheep, and have no problem criticizing, harshly if need be, players or management.

I don't have any special "ins" or connections, but this equally means I'm immune to the line of PR bull parrotted by certain media outlets. Chief among those is the Arizona Republic, which I tend to call the Banana Republic, or just the Banana, because of its sports writing, which is often painfully yellow. Just so you know my other prejudices in advance, among my other pet hates are: fans who do the wave, Barry Bonds, the New York Yankees and Budweiser. Do not expect reasoned debate on these topics.

Generally, I lean towards the Moneyball end of baseball thought, though I'm not an utter stathead, since I still believe factors like clubhouse chemistry and other unmeasurables are significant. Other tenets of my baseball philosophy: closers are over-valued, leadoff walks will kill you (an area of concern, since Webb, Ortiz and Estes, the NL's top three providers of free passes last year, are all in our 2005 rotation), while most defensive errors are unimportant. Unlike the subject of Budweiser, however, I am willing to be convinced that my intellectual position in these areas is wrong.

But in the end, I'm just a guy, who loves baseball in general, and the Diamondbacks in particular. Keep that, and a dry sense of humour (or even humor) in mind as you read these entries, and we'll be fine.