You are hereby warned that this entry is going to be one of those long, rambling discourses, that takes a screen or two before I get round to discussing the local baseball team in any meaningful sense. As a public service to those of you who don't want to read my ramblings on non-Diamondback topics, I will mark the end of such things with a frolicking kitten.
Over the weekend, was watching Still, We Believe, a documentary about the Boston Red Sox 2003 season and their run to the Division Series. It's a nice parallel to Chasing October (which covers the Cubs view of the same year) - both end in similarly heart-breaking fashion, on the cusp of the World Series, with Grady Little's decision to leave Pedro in being the turning-point here. Though it has to be said, with hindsight, making a film about the Red Sox in 2003, is like deciding to stop filming President Kennedy just as he turned the corner at the Texas Book Depository.
What came over was the real passion of the fans for their team, which is something you don't see that much for the D-backs, even here in Arizona. [They also had a great fan, Angry Bill, whose eternal, relentless pessimism reminded me of a certain occasional poster here. :-)] I mean, they visited a Boston Red Sox bar in California, f'heavens sake, where the atmosphere during games was intense and electric. I can't even think of a place here in Phoenix where there's any real excitement during our contests: if anyone knows of one, please let me know, as I'd like to go there.
There's even a Steelers bar which opened up just down the road from us, and it's far from the only out-of-town NFL venue in Phoenix. So why no Diamondbacks establishments? Maybe we're just too new here: the Red Sox have over a century of history (if you include their time as the Boston Americans), and so people have born and grown-up with the team. If you have just reached legal drinking age now, you'd only have been 12 when the Arizona franchise began, so it'll probably take a decade or two more for a "true" Diamondbacks venue to open up, as the generation of fans who have never known a time when there wasn't a team, requires the ability to enjoy a cold beverage with their viewing.
Haha! Score one for the SnakePit. Mrs. SnakePit and I mock each other (in a gentle, loving fashion, of course) - she for the amount of time I spend blogging, me for the amount of time she spends on MySpace. However, last night, she got a very nasty infection from a malware video codec there, which locked her home-page at a site called asafetyproject.com [do NOT go there, folks], created fake security warnings which popped up every 30 seconds and blocked her access to sites which might help cure it. Took me 90 minutes to get things back to normal (I hope), and a very humbled Mrs. SnakePit promises to be a lot more careful in future. [In case anyone is Googling and finds this page, the instructions to delete it are here]
Not often an umpire gets more press than the players, but the one who'll be involved in today's game against the Cubs has certainly been getting her fair share of column inches. Yes, you read that right - and that explains the coverage. One member of the crew will be Ria Cortesio, the first female umpire in a major league exhibition game since 1989. She's a regular Double-A umpire, and could be calling Triple-A games by the end of the season, since this will be her ninth year of work. Said Derrek Lee, "It's awesome. I think it's about time. Female eyes are as good as male eyes. Why can't they be umpires? Good for her."
You go, girl. All the best with that, and Lee is absolutely spot on. It might pose some interesting challenges though: I presume she gets a different locker-room from the other umpires for a start. And can you imagine someone like Lou Pinella getting up in her face in quite the same way? Screaming abuse at a male umpire, well, that's just part of the sport, but somehow, doing so to one of the fairer sex just seems...wrong, somehow. Maybe it's just my chivalric nature, but personally, I'd be reduced to politely enquiring: "Er, madam: I really don't think that was strike three. Would you mind terribly implementing the zone, as described in the official rules? Thanks."
No word on what Keith Hernandez thinks of this, given his comments that women "don't belong in the dugout." But he's probably too busy hunting mammoths to have noticed. Speaking of Hernandez, I was actually interested in picking up the copy of the book currently advertised in our sidebar - until I saw the endorsement by him. Somehow, it doesn't seem appealing any more: the words "Hernandez" and "watching baseball smarter", go together about as well as "Jason Grimsley" and "Just Say No". Hey, guess you take your endorsements where you can get them. Oh, look: it's a kitten:
That's a split-squad game, and very likely the other half will get much more of the attention because, a) it's at Chase Field tonight, and b) Randy Johnson will be taking the mound. It's the next step in his return to health, and will no doubt be viewed with a great deal of interest. The crowd for this game will certainly be much bigger than the few dozen who watched the B-game which was his last appearance. Admittedly, the attendees will largely be there because these Chase games are included in the season ticket packages. They were picked #82 and #83 in our draft - though we didn't know at the time RJ would be starting!
Dustin Nippert stopped the run of sucky performances by potential #5 candidates. He pitched six scoreless innings and combined with three relievers on a seven-hitter, as we blanked the White Sox 8-0. Nippert gave up four singles and two walks in five innings, striking out one, bringing his spring ERA down to 2.30. However, in today's Republic, Nick Piecoro says Nippert "still is considered a long shot for the fifth starter's role." If not he, then who? The acquisition of outfielder Jeff Salazar, off waivers from the Rockies, might play into the decision. I believe he occupies the final spot on the 40-man roster: Micah Owings is not on it, so if he were the pitcher, he'd need to be added - and someone else dropped. That seems to indicate he won't be the #5, but if not him or Nippert, then who?
TIme to ask SnakePit readers, so we've got a a quick, temporary poll up, to see who we reckon should be the #5 for the 3-4 starts before Johnson is ready to come back. This one will only last until the "actual" choice is revealed by Bob Melvin. We'll then revert to the "How Many Wins?" poll until the first pitch is thrown.
Elsewhere in yesterday's game, Pena looked good, allowing just a triple to Thome over two innings; Slaten teetered, loading them up in the eighth, before Elliott pitched a perfect ninth. Offensively, Tony Clark was 2-for-2 with 3 RBI, and his replacement, Chris Carter also had a pair of hits. Chris Young batted leadoff, and had a hit and a walk, which was good to see. We had nine free passes overall, thanks mostly to Sox starter Danks, giving us six in 4.2 innings.
Worth mentioning more about Salazar, released by the Rockies (who prefer Steve Finley. Snicker), picked up by AZ and optioned down to Tucson. The consensus appears to be this is a defense in case Dave Krynzel gets sniped when he goes through waivers - which will likely be necessary when Jeff DaVanon comes back. Salazar batted .265 with 9 homers in 85 games for the Colorado Triple-A team (.790 OPS), and a little better in nineteen late games for the big-league club (.274/.371/.448 = .819 OPS). I'm not sure what the point is of us apparently stock-piling outfielders - see also Alex Romero - but maybe we'll see what we need, then trade the excess for pitching?
Last, but certainly not least, to borrow a line from another great film: there's movement all over the place! Yes, there's a veritable torrent of activity on the D-backs blog front, with the arrival of The Listening, Quintero's entry. He says he's only going to update it a couple of times a week, but I'll take that. :-) Please check him out, and also Zephon's ramblings: it's interesting to see the different personalities the new sites have. It's almost like the glorious days of July 2004 when Random Fandom's Stefan could write a piece comparing D-backs bloggers to Scooby-Doo characters.