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SnakePit Round Table: A Song of Ice and Fire

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Will the last person out of King’s Landing please remember to turn off the dragon?

“Game Of Thrones” Live Concert Experience Announcement Event Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Live nation Entertainment

What did you think of the leaked D-backs stadium plans?

Turambar: There’s some cool aspects I loved, especially the general feeling of openness it seemed to give compared to our beloved box we inhabit now. Overall though for me it matters more on the “where” of the stadium than the what. Ideally they stay downtown and perhaps, like the Yankees did, build next door and level the old park.

Wesley: It looks unique enough, but the details are far too sparse. As Turambar said, the whole question of “where” is important, but as someone who lives well outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area (ie the rest of the state), that is irrelevant.

ISH95: My first thought is it looks like it would turn into a greenhouse in the summer, not to mention the glare in the afternoon. Aesthetically, it’s pretty cool, though.

Jack: I seriously doubt they would ever go with that much glass. I think they are barking up the wrong tree in what they want to do.

James: Where they build the new park is a much bigger deal for me than what the new park looks like. While I do have question about the amount of glass shown in the mock-up, there are not enough details available to know just what the actual “plan” is with regard to keeping the inside cool. There could be some truly revolutionary ideas at work, so I am reserving judgement on that. After all, if they could pull that off and also keep the interior comfortable year-round, that would be amazing. I do really like the open-air feel the facility would have, that’s something that playing in the desert simply has not allowed for.

Makakilo: Bravo to Jim and Turambar! Too often, journalism involves publishing what is spoon fed by powerful people with an agenda. Instead, they discovered and published an exclusive news scoop. It was an exciting moment in the history of the AZ Snake Pit website.

Jim: Like James, I’m really less in interested in the “what” than the “where”, and in particular the “how are they going to pay for it.” I’m a strong opponent of any public funds for pro sports stadia, but if they can fund it in the same way as they did Salt River, that will be fine, even if it means twice as long a trip to get to the park. This design looked kinda generic “new park”, but it’s always hard to tell from the mock-ups. I’m sure the mock-ups of Chase were FABULOUS…

Keegan: Loved the investigative journalism. It appeared to be very rough sketches. Something that a high schooler would throw together in photoshop for a design class. I still think we’re 15 years away from a new stadium at the least. Regarding the location, if somehow it gets built where the 303 and I-17 meet as has been rumored previously, and I seriously doubt it would be, I’d be thrilled.

Sean: I’m extremely indifferent. It’s a fun thought experiment but it’s so far away that it really doesn’t matter yet. And I doubt the actual park would come close to the mock up.

What would you want from a new park?

Turambar: Accessibility, unique food/drink and a smaller more intimate feel. 35,000-38,000 seats sounds perfect to me compared to the close to 50k BOB has now. That’ll go a long oway to making games seem better attended. That along with cool local food offerings like Culinary Dropouts, would make for a fun night out. Ultimately though, as said above, it comes down to where. If I gotta drive to South Jesus to get to a game (ie Coyotes) then hell no.

ISH95: Centrally located and easy to get in and out of. Also, any other concessions provider besides Levy’s. They can take their unstocked restaurants and nasty hotdogs and shove ‘em somewhere.

Jack: Easy access, on the light rail, plenty of parking. I think they should work towards a more intimate street scene around the ballpark, as opposed to the large corporate cookie cutter Hacks so eloquently decried.

James: It still needs to be conveniently located, ideally somewhere close to where the current stadium is. I think moving to North Scottsdale will just make many of the game experience issues even worse for the casual fan. It was also alienate a large portion of west valley residents. When Colangelo brought the team to Arizona, he insisted on a centralized location and also insisted on the team being the Arizona Diamondbacks. This was supposed to be everyone’s team, not just the team for the wealthy and disinterested of Millionaire’s Row.

Parking and access for alternative arrival should be abundant and convenient. Beyond that, I would love to see a number of actual dining establishments crop up in and around the park, not corporate fast/casual dining, but actual sit-down restaurants, especially some focused on local sourcing and recipes. Bring back some version of the KidsZone. In general, the inside of the ballpark should have plenty of family-friendly amenities.

Makakilo: Turambar is on-target that a more intimate feel is needed. Perhaps 27,000 seats would be the right feel! A model for success that does not require growth (and does not require filling more seats than the average attendance in the Majors) would be advantageous.

Jim: Easy access and parking. I do agree that local concessions rather than chains are a vital part of a place having its own feel. Witness, say, the copious craft beers available all over the ballpark in San Diego, rather than trapped in a single upper-deck location as currently at Chase. It should have features which are uniquely Arizonan - the pool or even the strip of dirt to home plate at Chase (RIP) are example of that.

Keegan: Access is the most important aspect. If it’s built in Chandler or Mesa, I’m likely only going to two games per season. Salt River would be tolerable. I can’t deal with fighting through traffic to get to a game. At the stadium itself I would prefer more variety in food selection. “Big Dawgs” and “Red Hots” should be the exception, not the rule. Mimic what they’ve done in San Diego at Petco and solicit the best local food joints for as many options as possible. Kill the $35 foot long hot dogs. A large concourse to walk separate from the main concourse should help with foot traffic. A bar terrace would be a nice touch.

Sean: Good access to freeways, light rail access, a modern, sleek design, and a way to Arizona’s beautiful scenery to make it a truly unique ballpark.

How does Taijuan Walker’s shoulder issue impact the Arizona rotation for the season?

Turambar: Looks like some combination of Clarke and Dup will HAVE to start now. That’s assuming of course that Godley doesn’t round in to good form, but even if he does we’ll likely need one or both of those young arms to put in major innings.

Wesley: We will have to rely on Duplantier and Clarke, obviously.

ISH95: Honestly, I wasn’t counting on much from him this season anyway. I figured best case scenario was what Corbin provided his first half season back, which really wasn’t that much. That said though, let’s get Dup and Clarke up here full time.

Jack: While I wasn’t personally counting on Walker for more than 60 innings, this is clearly a setback for both him and the team. Clearly Clarke is going to have to step in for Godley, and they have to hope everyone stays healthy at least another month beyond that, as it will take that long for Dup to get properly stretched out and prepared to start.

James: The timing of Walker’s return and the innings limit for Duplantier on the season were a nice bit of synergy. That plan is out the window now. However, I think the last three weeks have shown that Arizona does not have the time to wait until late-June, when Walker might have been back, to make a big move anyway. I think the team now needs to just plan on yanking Godley from the rotation and installing Taylor Clarke. There’s no reason to monkey around anymore, hoping to bridge the gap to a Walker/Duplantie tandem. With Clarke, Duplantier, and Widener all waiting in the wings, I think th team is still in a good position. The focus with Walker now, needs to be simply getting him healthy before spring training. If they can get him some work during September, that would be great. However, the new expanded roster rules make that seem unlikely. Just get him healthy and make sure he is ready to go with a strong, fresh arom for the 2020 season.

Makakilo: A critical lack of depth was caused by the combination of Godley’s problems, the injury to Walker, and the non-injury to Greinke. In the context of a team likely to contend for the playoffs, the lack of depth requires action.

Did exposing a lack of depth hurt the team, or did it help the team by exposing a problem when there is time to fix it?

Jim: It pushes back difficult roster decisions, because someone was going to lose out when Walker returned. But you wonder what it’s going to take for Clarke, Duplantier, etc. to make the rotation full-time. Even if we discount Godley entirely, Greinke, Ray, Kelly and Walker are all under contract through the end of 2020, with Weaver through 2023. It’s a somewhat odd situation to be in, but it’s up to the prospects to force the question by taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Keegan: How much could we have reasonably expected from him this season anyways? As unfortunate as it is, the more pressing question is what the hell do we do with Godley and his rotation spot?

Sean: I never expected him to return to the rotation this season and now it looks to not be happening at all. The Dbacks need to be aggressive in pitching - both starters and relievers - if they plan on contending the full season.

Zack Godley: starter, opener or reliever?

Turambar: Reliever. He’s been trending away from being a productive starter for a while now and doesn’t look like he’ll be back. As for an opener I think Torey was just giving that concept a go just to kick the tires. I don’t know if we got the overall bullpen needed to keep at such an experiment. Nope, at the end of the day Godley will be a reliever or let go.

Wesley: Reliever, easily. I don’t think there is much chance of Godley returning to the form he showed as a starter in 2017. I think the real Zach Godley is closer to the one since 2017, than the one during the

ISH95: Reliever, and not long relief. If I’m honestly, I’m beginning to wonder if that is even in his future.

Jack: Low leverage reliever, he’s not capable of doing anything else at the moment. They are loathe to try to pass him through waivers, which I understand. I don’t want to say he’ll never be decent again, but they are really between a rock and hard place on this one.

James: I’m mostly with Jack on this one. Slot him for mop-up duty or long relief in games where the team is not within a one-run margin. I agree that he probably does not clear waivers. With each outing now though, I find myself wondering how much that really matters. With Clarke, Duplantier, and Widener all competing for a starting role and those three, along with Serfy, RDLR, Scrabble, and possibly Krehbiel and soon, Ginkel all capable of filling bullpen roles, the need for Godley’s arm in the bullpen is looking slim as well. If he cannot get himself sorted here in the very near future, the team could do worse than losing him to a waiver claim.

Makakilo: Two clues to how to fix the problem:

Godley’s walk rate of 11.8% is at a career high. His predictive walk rate, xBB%, is 12.6%. A big contributor to predicted walks is 3-0 counts per plate appearance. Previously, I wrote that a key for Godley’s success is first-pitch strikes.

He pitches better when Avila catches instead of JRM.

  • 2017 JRM ERA 10.38 SO/BB 1.67
  • 2018 JRM ERA 6.16 SO/BB 1.70
  • 2018 Avila ERA 3.79 SO/BB 3.16
  • 2019 JRM ERA 10.12 SO/BB 0.82
  • 2019 Avila ERA 6.55 SO/BB 1.60

Which role (starter/opener/bullpen) will allow Avila to catch, and result in the highest first pitch strikes? My guess is starter. Returning to that role may require rethinking how he approaches each batter.

Jim: I certainly don’t want to see him be even an opener, since as we saw on Saturday, the result can be a hole too deep to dig out of. Until that mechanical issue gets fixed, he’s effectively useless. And having seen how good Mike Butcher was at fixing Shelby Miller, I’m not convinced we’ll ever get the Godley back we need. There’ll be good innings, and possibly even good outings. But since the beginning of last year, that’s now 40 starts and a 5.33 ERA.

Keegan: Should be another team’s problem. His postgame comments really grated on me Saturday night. He doesn’t appear to take fixing his issues seriously. For now, use him in long relief in blowout games.

Sean: I still think Godley has the potential to be a starter - look at the second half of last season. But unless Godley can get out of his own head and fix his mechanics, he’s not going to survive in the rotation or the bullpen.

Are baseball games too long?

Turambar: Nope, it’s baseball. It’s long as it needs to be.

Wesley: Not at all. Baseball wouldn’t be baseball if it didn’t have games that take a completely random amount of time, and functioned within the confines of a clock.

ISH95: Not only no, but hell no. If it’s too long, go watch a TikToc video.

Jack: The pace is too slow. The average reliever in MLB is taking 25.5 seconds between pitches now. 10 years ago it was 22.7 seconds. Add to that ever increasing pitching changes, and more strikeouts, which take more pitches to begin with, and the later innings have become a slog. Starters aren’t any better. They have gone from 21.2 second between pitches to 24.2 in just ten years time. The baseball we are watching now is NOT the baseball of just a decade ago. It’s almost completely different. This much slowdown of the action in just a decade is not healthy for the game. The average TOG just 10 years ago was about 2:55, now it’s about 3:07-3:08, and the DBacks have 2nd longest TOG in MLB at 3:16 (Even if you take out all extra inning games, DBacks still around 3:08)

James: The length of games has increased dramatically, but that’s a result of the pace of play slowing. I honestly have no problem at all with the length of games. What does seem to be getting problematic is the pace of play. I truly wish the Commissioner’s office would differentiate between the two. Some aspects of pace of play simply cannot be helped. Pitchers are throwing harder and more hitters are swinging for the fences. We now have more strikeouts and a ton of foul balls which are creating much longer at-bats. A pitch clock could help. SO would simply enforcing the damn rules that are already in place with regard to batters staying in the damn box unless they take a swing and then giving them only a few seconds at most to get back in.

Makakilo: Long baseball games, especially extra-inning games, have more exciting plays and surprises. Minor changes to speed the game are acceptable, but the essential nature of baseball is worth keeping.

Jim: Yeah, it’s pace that’s the issue which is separate from length. Abruptly terminating games with nonsense like the runner on second is an awful idea. There are plenty of ways the pace can be tightened up without that. Enforcing the current rules would be a good start, and strongly-worded letters to offending players aren’t cutting it. Start calling balls and strikes, and they’ll get the message.

Keegan: Not even the pace bothers me. I need more time in between pitches on the nights I recap for notes.

Sean: I think D-backs games are at a good length. Playoff and Primetime games are a bit longer than I’d prefer.

Game of Thrones has ended. What are your thoughts?

Wesley: I am writing this on Saturday, but even not seeing whatever happens with the ending, i guarantee that people will be unsatisfied. Secondly, has it really “ended” though? There’s a prequel series, possibly multiple prequel series coming out, and if George R.R. Martin doesn’t die first and gets around to it, the rest of the books as well.

ISH95: Disappointed with how it happened, but agree (mostly) with what did happen. It got too expensive, so HBO rushed it instead of letting the last season or two happen organically. It became a checklist of events to complete instead of a story.

Jack: I watched my first 2 ½ episodes on the airplane on the way to China. We’ll see. I didn’t partake in it as a social event. I’m not sure I’m going to want to watch all of it. Probably not.

Jim: It’s going to be increasingly hard for future shows to achieve the level of awareness this has achieved, with the fragmentation of the viewer marketplace. This could be the last great TV show which becomes a water-cooler topic for months on end. I’ve loved the sheer spectacle of this season. Got some issues with the writing, but I don’t tend to get as emotionally invested in characters as much as some people clearly are, so their fates are of no importance to me. To me, some of the reaction has been… silly, shall we say. But Sunday nights will be a bit different the rest of the year.

Keegan: Didn’t and probably won’t watch a single episode. Sorry not sorry.

Sean: I still have two seasons to catch up on!