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Chicago, here we come...

Evening, folks. Or rather: morning. Trust you enjoyed your off-day. I know I did. Went out to dinner with Mrs. SnakePit, and stumbled across a Hollywood Video on Tatum and Bell which was closing down and selling all its stock off, so loaded up on cheap DVDs there [yay! The Loch Ness Incident!]. Then went to Wal-Mart to find a D-backs shirt for my father's birthday, but the selection there was very, very poor: basically, if you don't want a black T-shirt, you're out of luck. Though I did like the one that says "Got playoffs?" on the front, with the team logo, and then "WE DO!" on the back. Might have to get one of those.

Bought my playoff tickets for Game 2 of the NLCS next Friday. They don't officially go on sale to the general public till tomorrow morning, but there are pre-sale codes floating around. So I took advantage of that, and so Mrs SnakePit and I will be joined by her sister and brother-in-law for the game. That is assuming, of course, that things don't go horribly wrong between now and then. History is, however, on our side there: the last time the Cubs won when facing post-season elimination was more than sixty years ago, in Game Six of the 1945 World Series against Detroit. Since then, they've rolled over meekly and gone 0-5.. Al has pointed out they won Game Five of the 2003 NLDS against the Braves, which was an elimination game for both sides.

Later today, we will be seeing Livan Hernandez take on Rich Hill, and given the situation, I think it's probably a good thing that Hernandez is pitching rather than Micah Owings. The atmosphere in Wrigley promises to be intense - a bear-pit, if you will - and it could be helpful that Hernandez v2.0 has been through it all before, with three post-season campaigns, including four World Series starts, under his belt already. He won't be flustered by it all, that's for sure. Of course, he still might suck, especially if he ends up walking people. The home-plate umpire and his definition of the strike-zone will likely be key this afternoon.

Speaking of tickets, jaw-dropped to read that scalpers were demanding $200 for standing-room only tickets at Wrigley for the game, with some actual seats fetching as much as $2,000. This probably explains why there were a large number of traveling fans at Chase: it was cheaper to fly here, stay in a hotel and buy a ticket, than try to get one in Chicago. Mind you, that report was before Thursday's loss, which could turn Game 3 into the end of the season, if Arizona had its way.

Just completed my work on Project Cloverfield, Phase III. If you're a regular on other forums, you might have seen the results, but it'll be officially posted in the Gameday Thread a little later on. For now, let's just say it involves fun with Presto Image Folio, and a convenient site that turns your images into animated GIFs. I'm adding that one to my bookmarks, for I suspect I might find some more use for it down the line.

Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated is less than impressed by Arizona fans

There really is no such thing as "Diamondbacks faithful," unless you count singular superfan Susan Price, who shows up at 1 p.m. for every game and yells things like "Ex-Sell-ent Brandon Webb, Best in the Universe!" to the players for hours each day ("and she's here every single day," says Webb.) And never mind that no self-respecting baseball fan should ever, ever wave a white plastic pom-pom. For the Diamondbacks players, it's about taking what you can get...

Still, the city of Phoenix waxes nostalgic for Schilling and Gonzo and Randy Johnson, stars whose careers began elsewhere, rather than a team such as this one, stocked with products of the farm system... Last night when Young hit a home run the cheering was raucous, but one got the sense that the fans merely enjoyed the act of cheering -- as if an emcee at Chase had commanded "All the Fellas in the House say Yeah-ay" -- rather than feeling genuine team identification.

There wasn't an air of anxiety unburdened, of crazy joy, of despair averted, that one hears in the cheering of, say, Philadelphia fans. Not to mention, Philly acolytes probably wouldn't leave in the bottom of the 8th up only 8-4, as droves of D-Backs fans did on Thursday night, pouring upward toward the exits. All they missed was the conclusion to a huge Game 2 victory that put "their" team one game from the National League Championship Series. But hey, gotta watch Grey's Anatomy on the DVR, right?

D'you think there is some requirement to be a frickin' idiot in order to write for the national media? I know the concept that "there really is no such thing as Diamondbacks faithful", will come as an awful shock to most of those here, to start with. And, "waxing nostalgic for Schilling and Gonzo and Randy Johnson"? Where the hell does he get that idea? Gonzo...perhaps in some quarters, initially, but how often have you heard anybody say, "I miss Curt Schilling"? What hurt this team was a 51-111 season: with a fan-base only a half-dozen years in the making, and so largely possessing fragile loyalties, a wretched season like that will send casual fans scampering. But nowhere in the article does Ballard acknowledge that this season, we out-drew our expansion siblings in Tampa by more than 10,000 per game.

As for leaving early, if he'd actually tried to get to and from Chase Field on Monday or Tuesday night under his own steam (rather than, say, an expense-account cab), he would have known the impetus to leave early. All reports indicate it was an utterly brutal experience, combining the light-rail construction, freeway closures and unusually-heavy crowds. And, besides, watching Valverde pitch the ninth good can come of that, can it? He gets the save or he doesn't: either way, your blood pressure is likely only going to rise a few points. :-)

Sure, there is certainly room for improvement in Arizona fandom: time is the only cure for that, not snarky writers like this wannabe-Bickleyite. Of course, a team in existence for less than a decade is going to have less rabid supporters than one which has been around since before powered flight, radio or the telephone. Well, duh. It really doesn't take 1,200 words to reach that conclusion. But why bother coming up with anything new when you can just trot out the same, stale old cliches one more time, eh, Chris? My growing respect for SI took a large step back with this moronic piece.

In brighter news, the Yankees have joined the Cubs in teetering on the brink of elimnation, after being beaten by the Cleveland Indians and a plague of locusts. Ok, they weren't quite locusts, but if ever there was proof that God hates the Yankees, I think the arrival of a swarm of insects as their reliever struggled to protect a 1-0 lead probably counts. Whatever idol the Cleveland fans pray too, clearly possesses some powerful mojo: if we face them in the World Series, St. Penelope will have to have her game on. With Boston winning too, all four division series are 2-0, which must be the TV executives' worst nightmare, especially with the Yankees and Cubs teetering on the edge. I also note that the NL West is now 4-0 in post-season play.

Finally, here's a blast from the past. Yahoo talks to Wally Backman, currently deer-hunting up in the Oregon mountains, but still clearly believing Melvin is occupying his job. What might have been...or perhaps not. Right, time for bed, I think: Mrs. SnakePit has to be up in about two hours, as she traded shifts at work, so has to be there at some godawful hour as a result. Hopefully, we'll be able to get everything taken care of before first pitch. More in due course, no doubt.