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Battle for the Championship

Was it only five days ago that we swept the Cubs out of the division series? In some ways, it seems a lot longer; in others, much less. Regardless, here we stand, hours from the start of the National League Championship Series: the second time in franchise history we've reached this far, and the first time for our opponents, the Colorado Rockies.

I've had quite a few requests from other sites for pieces on the series, and I've tried to respond to all of those in good time, which has kept me busy for the past couple of days. Here are links to the articles, which will probably be a good substitute for a formal preview of the series. There seems to have been one of those in just about every media outlet already, so I'm sure you don't need me to rehash all the details!

I also spoke to John Ingold of the Denver Post yesterday, about the upcoming series, and he quoted me in his article. I think that's our first mention in the main-stream media, certainly outside of Arizona. Copies will be printed out, framed, and sent to my mother back in Scotland. :-) Good article - the coverage in Colorado seems pretty fair and balanced overall: I guess they know a bit more about Arizona than most places, and are aware of what it's like to be under-appreciated! I'm a little surprised there wasn't more than the couple of sentences quoted, as I chatted to him for more than twenty minutes, but perhaps those quotes have been filed away for later use.

Once again, we're going to be the underdogs in the series, going by most of the other predictions. They largely seem swayed by the incandescent form of the Rockies over the past three weeks, winning 17 of 18 games. I'm less convinced this turns them into a unstoppable juggernaut. Sure, they are playing brilliant baseball of late, but I think the five days of rest since the last game will have sapped a lot of that momentum away. However, if they beat Arizona tonight, that will make things very difficult, on a whole number of levels.

Still, we have Brandon Webb, and I can't think of another pitcher in the National League I'd rather turn to - not even Jake Peavy. My sole qualm is the ownage of Webb by the Rockies earlier in the season, which is entirely unlike his record against any other team. Looking at the lines from those games, it seemed he was walking more people than normal, and he corrected that in his final, most successful game against them. So that could prove an early indicator of how the game is going to go.

One good omen, perhaps, is that my near-namesake, Tim McClelland, is behind home-plate. I'm sure he'll be friendly towards Arizona, or I'll have to have words with him at the next clan gathering. :-) Though, actually, Colorado fans will probably be happy with that too. He was working home-plate in their playoff game, and called Holliday safe on the infamous sacrifice fly in the 13th that might not have been, and which sent the Padres home for the winter. So, another reason to love the man, really.

I do like the way our rotation is ordered. Hernandez showed he has absolutely no fear of pitching in the lion's den, with his performance in Wrigley, so I've no doubt he'll be his usual, unflappable self at Coors. And I've little doubt Micah Owings is really looking forward to his start in Denver, albeit for the chance to become the first D-backs pitcher to hit a post-season homer. Indeed, that's something only twenty hurlers all-time have done, with Jeff Suppan (2006) and Kerry Wood (2003) the two who have played long-ball since 1984.

My real concern is the prospect of Hernandez v2.0 pitching Game Seven, if it comes to that - and I certainly wouldn't rule it out. [I can see Webb winning Game One, Davis and Hernandez dropping the next two, Owings and Webb winning #4 and #5, and Davis losing Game Six, for example] I imagine Livan posting a line involving 5 IP, 15 H, 7 BB, 3 HBP..and no earned runs, thanks to four pickoffs, three men thrown out at home-plate, two outfield assists and a dubious fielder's interference call. However, no-one is left alive to attend the World Series, as everyone in the Phoenix area has suffered fatal heart-attacks during his outing.

The good news is, the odd way the series is scheduled, with a bonus off-day during the Colorado leg, we could bring back Micah Owings on full rest for Game Seven. He'll certainly be available in the bullpen if needed, though what I'd really like to see is Melvin screw with the Rockies' heads entirely. Put Micah in LF, start Hernandez, and swap them back and forth depending on the match-up. Perfectly legal, and guaranteed to fluster the opposition. Mind you, the thought of Livan trying to play LF...Well, we coped with Gonzo there, so it might not be so bad!

Just went over to Chase Field and picked up the tickets for tomorrow night, so we don't have to queue then. They've got an automatic kiosk, like the ones at the movies, where you just swipe your credit-card and the tickets pop out, which certainly speeds up the process. I asked whether there were still tickets available for tonight and tomorrow: though they didn't have access to exact figures, the guy said "maybe a thousand" for each game, so they do look pretty close to being a sell-out. KTAR was already there, giving away free "Kick 'em in the Rockies" T-shirts if you signed up for their list. Needless to say, one was acquired, and I sense D.Duck and M.Mouse may also be signing up in due course. :-)

Okay: that pretty much took care of my lunch-break, so I'm gonna cut this short and get it posted. Gameday Thread to follow later this afternoon, needless to say: probably around 3:30pm, give you a couple of hours to stretch and throw some warm-up comments before we swing into action a little after 5:30.