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AZ 3, Padres 5 - One Flu Over the Diamondbacks' Nest

Record: 61-73. Change on last year: +19

I'm going to start with a conspiracy theory today. I don't think Vazquez had "stomach flu" and missed his start. I think this was Bob Melvin attempting to play the percentages. He figured that he had a better chance of winning two of the three games, if he held Vazquez back for the finale against Park, and basically rolled over and surrendered to Peavy, tossing up Halsey as a sacrificial lamb.

My evidence for this? Oh, basically, none. It's not as if Vazquez was seen partying the night away in the Gaslamp district of San Diego on Monday. But the apparent lack of any mention of this "flu" before yesterday is interesting, and it would make sense to tweak your rotation if necessary, to maximize your chances against the division leader.

Said Melvin, "Talking to the doctors last night, he's just not going to have the fluids in him. No matter how well he feels today we'd be a little concerned about when he'd hit a wall out there." Vazquez said he wanted to pitch: "I thought I could pitch. The doctor said because I've lost a lot of fluids the past few days I was still going to be weak today, but I feel all right today."

[In case you haven't noticed, it's a day-game today (what kind of fan are you...asks the man who entirely missed the last one!), so the thread for that may be found below. At time of writing, the Padres have a very comfortable lead, which makes the above theory somewhat unproductive]

Halsey started on three days' rest, and things started brightly, with Arizona leaping to a two-run lead off Peavy in the first innings, thanks to a two-run homer from Glaus - his 30th. But the Padres came back with a three-run shot of their own (after Giles fell behind to 0-2) in the bottom of the inning, and while we kept things close, we never led again.

We had our chances, in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings: we had men in scoring position in the first two, but couldn't do anything with them, and even had two hits in the ninth off Trevor Hoffman, who hadn't blown a save in over fourth months. Unfortunately, he still hasn't - there was a double-play in between our hits. ;-(

Two hits for Glaus, two for Green. Halsey gave us a credible six innings, allowing four runs - all coming from home-runs - on six hits and two walks. Cormier, Groom and Lyon all got one out each in the seventh (Lyon faced three hitters, allowing a run) and Worrell finished things off in the eighth.

Me, despite the loss, I still had fun, albeit more 'cos I made my in-ring debut for Impact Zone Wrestling. No, not actually fighting: just announcing, as part of an angle involving our regular announcer (WWE's Justin Roberts) turning evil. It was kinda fun, but public speaking is more a chore than a pleasure for me.

Thanks to Devin, William K, azdb7, icecoldmo and new guest mccray for keeping things active enough in my absence. The last-named referred to this article, where Jacob Luft fulminates against the NL West, and suggests its utterly unfair that the winner of the division could be sub-.500 and still make the playoffs. I pointed out that the last time the team with the best record won the World Series was back in 1998 - so why not abandon playoffs altogether if that's what you want.

Actually, that's a kinda-interesting idea. It would be not too difficult to implement, either, though it'd be a radical revision. Assume we have fifteen teams in each league: each team plays twelve games against each of the other fourteen teams in the division - six home, six away. That's 168 games, so only about a week longer than the current season. No unbalanced schedule, a level playing field. The best AL + NL teams face each other in the World Series, just like it used to be.

Potential downsides: no interleague play, but I can't say it's something we in Arizona would miss. Also, as there'd be no more divisions, the concept of division rivals would evaporate. Although, on the other hand, I know from my experience of English football - where teams play each other only twice a year - is that this doesn't affect things much at all! See also the NFL.

Even more radically: put all thirty teams in one division, give them six games against each other outfit, one series at home, one on the road. This would add twelve games to the regular season - or you could contract two teams (I'm looking at you, Tampa Bay) and keep the season the same length. And whoever has the best record at the end of the year is the winner. No playoffs. No World Series.

Somehow, I can't see MLB biting: while the above might be a superior way to determine the best team in baseball, the playoffs are far too much of a money-spinner for the bureaucracy. Fox paid $2.5 billion for six years worth of baseball coverage, and according to this article, 90% of the value comes from the rights to the playoffs. If so, from TV coverage alone, the playoffs are worth $375m/year to MLB. That ain't going anywhere.