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Preview, #119: 8/12 @ Reds

This has not been the road-trip for which I signed up, so far...

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Jon Jay - RF Jose Peraza - SS
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Joey Votto - 1B
David Peralta - LF Scooter Gennett - 2B
A.J. Pollock - CF Eugenio Suarez - 3B
Daniel Descalso - 3B Mason Williams - RF
Ketel Marte - 2B Tucker Barnhart - C
Nick Ahmed - SS Preston Tucker - LF
Alex Avila - C Luis Castillo - RHP
Zack Godley - RHP Billy Hamilton - CF

Painful though it may be, what we’ve seen here is one of the joys of baseball - that, on any given day, any baseball team can beat another baseball team. I think this is probably truer for our sport than the other major pro pastimes, and is a result of its uniquely adversarial core. Basketball, gridiron and hockey are based on the concept that players work with their team-mates to achieve a purpose. Sure, the opposition can try and interfere with them, but the team with the ball or puck controls the game, for as long as they have possession. That isn’t the case in baseball, where it comes down to the batter-pitcher face-off. One tries to hit the ball, the other does everything possible to stop them.

And at that intersection we have a very complex system of chaos. By which I mean, a tiny difference in the input, can lead to a massive change in the results. If a batter catches a pitch squarely on the barrel, it has a good chance of becoming a hit, or possibly even a home-run. But just a couple of millimeters higher or lower on the barrel, and that line-drive to the gap becomes a harmless pop-fly, or groundball to the infield. Over time, these kinds of things will generally even out, and skill eventually prevail. But the keyword there is eventually: there’s good reason the baseball season is twice as long as any of the other pro sports, for it takes a huge sample size for the signal to separate itself from the noise.

The Diamondbacks are a better baseball team than the Reds. I have no doubt about this, and in a one-game contest with my life on the line, would not hesitate in backing Arizona. But over the last two games, you wouldn’t have known it. The only saving grace is that the D-backs still remain tied in first place, thanks to the Colorado Rockies deciding to be less than useless for a couple of days. That’s a bonus, though if we had beaten Cincinnati on Friday and Saturday, we’d now be two games up on Los Angeles. But Arizona needs to put all that behind them, and at least avoid the sweep this afternoon. We have to take care of our own business first, as we can’t rely on Colorado for ever.