For those unfamiliar with the concept, a lolcat is, according to Wikipedia, "an image combining a photograph of an animal, most frequently a cat, with a humorous and idiosyncratic caption in (often) broken English referred to as Kitty Pidgin, or lolspeak." It was hotclaws who introduced me to the world of cat macros, as they are also known, and it's become a source of great amusement to myself and Mrs. SnakePit ever since. Perhaps the central fount for such things is icanhascheezburger.com, where endless hours can be spent perusing the archives of cuteness, weirdness and lolcattery.
However, it strikes me that an opportunity is being missed here. There is a vast archive of photos of our D-backs, which can similarly be co-opted, captioned and turned into what should be called lolbacks. Now, given my somewhat cynical and sarcastic nature, these will likely be somewhat different in tone from the traditional lolcats: we see the Diamondbacks as hardened warriors, cast from burnished bronze, rather than cute little animals in situations that potentially endanger their dignity. That said, please find below my humble first efforts in this area. Other submissions are, of course, greatly welcome.
There. That's got that out of the way. What have our team been up to since I last wrote anything significant? "Losing," would be the succinct and basically accurate answer, as we dropped two more spring training games, first 7-4 to the Mariners last night, and then bravely coming back from a 7-0 deficit against the Rangers this afternoon, before finally falling by the odd run in fifteen.
To take the latter first, we've already documented the growing concern about Owings: six hits and five earned runs in only four innings is cause for concern, boosting his spring ERA to 11.32. However, he did suffer from some bad luck, and got significantly better as the game went on - he retired the final seven batters that he faced. It was also good to see that he only walked one Mariner, and that was the second hitter he faced. Said Owings, "I had to get through a few things and then the third and fourth is more my type of game. Something for me to key in on and build off of." I certainly hope that's the case. Curiously, Owings also batted for himself, even though the DH was available: but his spring isn't going much better at the plate than on the mound. His 0-for-2 means he is now 2-for-10, with no extra-base hits, RBI or walks.
Elsewhere in the game, good outings were had by the two younger members of our outfield. Chris Young was 2-for-2 with two walks, while Justin Upton went 3-for-3. Between them, they had the majority of Arizona's nine hits: the third man in the outfield, Eric Byrnes, drew a couple of walks too, but Chris Snyder went 0-for-4 with three K's - his spring average is still a healthy .323 though. After Owings left, Gutierrez and Petit each worked two innings: the former allowed a pair of unearned runs thanks to an Upton gaffe, while Petit allowed just one single in two innings, fanning three Mariners. His 17 K's in 12.1 innings, now leads the team.
Today's game saw a somewhat unexpected starter in Billy Buckner, in order to give Bob Melvin and his team a good look at the pitcher, who allowed five runs in four innings, on four hits and two walks. He'll likely start the season in Tucson, but worth repeating Melvin's scouting report in fill: "He's got some weapons. He's got a real good curveball. He was burned on the changeup again, which I think is going to be a good pitch for him. He's going to have to mix his pitches up when he falls behind and gets a little more predictable. Maybe he doesn't quite have the fastball to get away with it when he's behind, but he has a lot of his secondary pitches that he can throw for strikes as well."
Scheduled starter Brandon Webb, meanwhile, appeared against the White Sox minor-leaguers, and whizzed through six innings in just seventy pitches, so ended up completing his workout with fifteen more pitches in the bullpen. He fanned five, walked two and gave up two runs, but it didn't sound like the Sox prospects had many good hacks. "I was keeping the ball down for the most part and getting ahead of basically every hitter. That was good. I just basically threw a lot of fastballs. If I'd gone deeper in the count, I probably would have had more time to get some more changeups or curveballs in... It was a lot of PFPs [pitcher's fielding practice] over there... Covering first like non-stop. Which is a good thing. I'll take it," said Webb afterwards.
Back on the main stage, we got to see what Trot Nixon could do at first-base, making the first start of what I presume is his entire professional career there. Error-free according to the box-score, but that doesn't say much, either way. He went 1-for-3 there, and it was generally a good day for the offense, who had 16 hits, more than twice as many as the opposition [We were undone by efficiency: we left ten men on base, the Rangers a paltry two] Chris Young had another good outing, 3-for-5 with two RBI and a homer, to lift his spring average above .300. Alex Romero had a three-hit day two, and Jesus Mercham was a perfect 2-for-2; he leads all D-backs in batting average with 15 or more at-bats, having gone 16-for-32 this spring.
Buckner was followed to the mound by Qualls, Lyon, Peña, Robertson and Rosales. They threw five combined innings, with just three hits and a walk, but the Rangers scored three more time, in part thanks to a fielding error by Romero. Lyon and Peña both threw perfect innings, which is good to see: Robertson gave up a homer, which proved to be the final margin of victory, though despite fifteen runs being scored, the game was still completed in a surprisingly-brisk 2:33.
Good interview with Melvin, where he talks about the successes and disappointments of spring training this far: "Results and record-wise, it doesn't look the greatest right now, but I think we're accomplishing what we need to accomplish." He also discusses Randy Johnson, the pitching prospects he has got to see, Conor Jackson, and the competitive division we're in, saying "Top to bottom, I might be biased, but I think this could be the toughest division in baseball." I don't think there is too much bias necessary there: few other divisions can sport four teams that genuinely can say they are contenders.
Well, looks like I will not be able to make it to my own Fantasy Baseball Draft on Saturday. :-( I will be drafting, just in another sense, as our season-ticket consortium will be picking which games we go to, beginning at 1:30pm on Saturday. I'll get to be there for the first round at most, since that begins at 1pm, so I will get to wave the starting flag, and then must bail. I will have to spend most of Saturday morning working on my autodraft list, to ensure I do not return to any unexpected surprises, such as having picked Barry Bonds or Russ Ortiz... I see cavscout has suggested bumping the draft earlier, but that would cause more problems for some (such as snakecharmer) who are busy on Saturday mornings. Sunday is, indeed, Easter and we're off to Maryvale to see AZ vs. MIL, so that's basically out. I think we'll just leave it and let the chips - and the injured players - fall where they may...
And, finally, a quick plug for the bullpen community projections, which have been lightly trafficked so far. More predictions are very welcome there, to come with a better consensus of what to expect from our 'pen.
Today's comment starter Kent Somers writes about the growing appeal of watching sports from home rather than at the stadium. What do you thing? What are the advantages of each? Are there certain sports that are great live, but suck on TV, or the other way round?