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Gameday Thread, #77: 6/27 vs Mariners

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Jarrod Washburn, LHP (4-8, 4.84)
Brandon Webb, RHP (8-3, 2.48)

An off day is a weird thing. I actually did less at work yesterday, without having the game to listen to, comments to post, and reports to write, than on Sunday. And at time of writing today, it's 2pm, and I have done...well, nothing. Got up; surfed aimlessly; had breakfast; watched a chunk of France vs. Spain in the World Cup; and half the day is now gone, without anything significant to show for it. Sure, there's a bunch of stuff I could have done, and probably will wish that I had done later on. But I've done about as much since the last D'backs games, as the D'backs probably have.

So, Seattle comes to town and it's the return of a (very brief) home-town favourite, in Richie Sexson. Be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets. On the one hand, he didn't deliver anything like the value of his contract. It wasn't his fault, true, but bolting for a Pacific payday, without even bothering to say, "It's not you, it's me", wasn't exactly the best way to apologize. On the other hand, that contract now seems like small beer, combined to the $20m we're devoting to the Huge Manatee Preservation Society (HuMPS!) over the next few years.

Speaking of beer...interesting article in the Republic on Arte Moreno, the Phoenix-based owner of the Wherever Angels of This Space For Rent. It's interesting to speculate on where the Diamondbacks might be, if he'd bought them, as he originally wanted to do, until Jerry Colangelo brushed him off:

Moreno owned 5.3 percent at the time but wanted to buy a majority stake and ultimately run the club. Colangelo thought Moreno's offer was too low and fought off the possible hostile takeover by rounding up $160 million in new capital from other investors. Fellow shareholders who were at the meeting said when Colanagelo announced he was looking for more money, Moreno pulled out his checkbook and said: "You don't need those investors. Here's my money." Colangelo shot him down in what several witnesses described as an angry and embarrassing confrontation.

Instead, he bought the Angels: the day he did, he cut the cost of beer, tickets and souvenirs. Anyone seen anything like that here? And the fans have responded appropriately, turning out in force. The season after they won the World Series, Anaheim had more than three million in attendance, like the D'backs did. But unlike Arizona, they built on that, increasing it to more than 3.4m last season, and are on course for that figure again this year. The Republic has no doubts why:

Arte Moreno is a fan's best friend. "After he took over ownership of the team, there was a pretty dramatic shift toward a real fan orientation," says Tom Boyd, an associate professor of marketing who specializes in sports promotion at Cal State Fullerton just up the road from Angel Stadium. "It's not that the Angels didn't care about the fans before or weren't trying to attract fans, but Arte Moreno, more than most owners, puts his money where his mouth is as far as the fans are concerned. I know it sounds trite, but he just gets it."

It's an interesting contrast to the Chase experience, which all too often, feels like a polite mugging. They seem to forget that it's better to sell a beer for four dollars, and make two, then not sell it for eight. In my case, the latter is exactly what happens - and believe me, selling beer to a Scotsman is not normally hard. This might also help alleviate the problem, brought up by suitsmetoATandT previously, of a lack of audience enthusiasm. Though given the recent performance by the D'backs, generating this would require dumping a truckload of E into the stadium water supply. [Where's Jason Grimsley when you need him? He could have hooked us up]

We'll be at tomorrow's game, not purchasing alcohol, but we have the series opener tonight, with Webb going against Jarrod Washburn, and I'm optimistic, even though Webb hasn't won in over a month. Washburn has allowes 5+ earned runs in three of his four starts in June, with 29 hits and 9 walks in 21.1 innings. He's much less happy away from home: his road ERA is 5.66, compared to one at Angel Stadium below four. Right-handers hit him particularly hard: of 76 hits, 12 have gone yard, compared to one of 18 against southpaws.

Webb will have a little less pressure on him: keeping a winning streak going, is bound to be less stressful than trying to break a run of losses. His previous couple of starts have been nothing to write home about though - eighteen hits and eight earned runs in 11.2 innings. The season-high four walks last time were also a bit worrying, which matched his total for all six June starts. It'd be nice to see that Webb, with his 1.80 ERA, rather than the somewhat wobbly ace we've had on the mound recently.

But I do feel, like Miggy, that a corner has been, if not perhaps turned, at least peered around: it's up to the D'backs to do the rest. And before I forget to plug the opposo-blog as usual, go check out Lookout Landing, where they describe us as "reeling". No, that was last week. :-)