The world of MLBlogs can rest easy as I have now returned from a family holiday that can only be described as being akin to an episode of the Jerry Springer show (if the staff at Center Parcs had provided DNA testing and a lie detector test then the illusion would have been complete). To make matters worse my limited internet access implied that the Diamondbacks were intent on p**sing away their divisional lead against the lowly Pirates.However once I arrived back in what I now consider to be the sanctuary that is Slough, all was well with the world and thanks to a typically brilliant change of pitchers from Bob Melvin, the D-Backs are ensured of a place in the play offs.Who do we want? I don’t think it matters.There is nobody to fear and nobody we desperately want to face. My only concern is that whilst the melt down of the Mets has been hilarious to observe they will be so relieved to get into the post season that they may pick up their game again.
Whatever happens from now on in should be considered a bonus but being the sports fan that I am I will demand resignations all round if Arizona don’t at least make it to the World Series.
Good Lord it is good to be back.
Everyday seems to inch the D-Backs a little bit closer to the play offs (although a giant leap to the play offs would actually be a preferable scenario) and as ever there seems to be no way of predicting the starting pitching.Micah Owing’s managed to pitch a shut out on the very day that I had mocked him as being unlikely to go more than two innings.I do sometimes wonder whether the Arizona franchise takes any notice of my blog at all.
There will be no entries from me until next week (as the bishop said to the actress) as I will be on what I believe you call "vacation". I will be in centre parcs (it’s like Camp X-Ray but with a water park,or maybe Camp X-Ray actually had a water park but that would probably have been used for water boarding rather than purely for entertainment purposes). Either way the only access to the internet I shall have will probably be at extortionate rates which will allow me enough time to check the D-Backs score before my credit card is declined.
I expect that for many of you this crucial time of the baseball season will lose much of it’s lustre without my insightful commentary,however I request that you at least try to make the best of it.
I will now go and prepare for the traditional British holiday by making sure that my suitcase is packed with waterproofs,umbrellas,beer and copious amounts of Class A drugs.
Before the series against the Dodgers I wrote that if the Diamondbacks avoided a sweep that would be enough to pretty much guarantee post-season baseball.Well, they did avoid the sweep but October still looks anything but guaranteed.Of course I wasn’t counting on the Phillies sweeping the Mets (in which the Mets produced some of the ugliest baseball I’ve seen all season) and I was kind of hoping that the D-Backs would get the better of the Giants.They still might but it’s reliant on Micah Owings going deeper than two innings tonight.The stats still favor Arizona and given the way the season has gone they will probably clinch the play off place in the last game of the season in a one run game.
In other news we are currently experiencing a banking crisis here in the UK (you Americans are to blame apparently) with people queuing to withdraw their savings from certain banks. My proposal that I adopt a James Stewart type figure to persuade people to leave their money in their accounts was described as "the ramblings of an idiot" by my local bank manager.
I’ve also noticed that each blog has a strap line at the top saying "Share your passion for baseball with people who are important to you".I’m not sure if this has always been there but I would like to assure you that none of you are important to me in any way whatsoever.
Some of you may be aware that Kellia over on her D-Backs blog has managed to get an interview with Eric Byrnes. Unfortunately for Kellia this is not an exclusive, for I can now reveal that the new ace reporter for MLB, Alyssa Milano, has also managed to interview Eric.I have gained unprecedented access to the tape of said interview before it is released to a hungry media,and (against the advice of my lawyers) I can now provide a transcript of what people are already calling "the most anticipated interview of the new millennium".
AM- Eric,thanks for talking to me
EB-it’s a pleasure
AM-can I ask how it feels when you hit a home run
EB- it feels great
AM- yes,I guess it must be wonderful to "touch ‘em all"
EB- er yes
AM- I mean to "touch ‘em all" is almost the very definition of what baseball is about
EB- I guess
AM-don’t you think that "touch ‘em all" is a great name for a range of clothing?
EB- I’ve never really thought….
AM- Anyway,are you married?
EB- yes I am
AM-I bet your wife likes to wear great looking clothes with a baseball theme right?
EB- I suppose
AM- then the "touch ‘em all" range is ideal for her and all her friends
EB-(moving away) ok
AM-(grabs EB by the arm) Eric, would you say that you are a great humanitarian?
EB- (warily) I don’t know
AM-because I am a great humanitarian and it’s always nice to meet a kindred spirit.Do you know why I am a great humanitarian?
AM- firstly because I design clothes that make people happy, and secondly because on my website I have links to charities, some of them are children’s charities,so just by doing that I’m helping to save the lives of children
AM- and I also wrote a very long and detailed blog entry about the Roberto Clemente awards.My agent said that it might look like I was using the awards to promote my clothes but I think it’s the other way around.I mean I’ve got lots of great fans who visit my site and if they read about people doing good that’s a good thing right?
AM-if you think about it I am helping to recognize people who help others, so really I’m even better than the people who are up for the award
EB-well…I don’t know
AM-I must be of pure intentions and open my eyes and my heart to the suffering of humanity
EB-I have no idea what you are talking about
AM-that’s what it says on my website.I’ll be able to say things like that when I’m a reporter for the post-season
EB-(astonished) you’re gonna be a reporter
AM-(jumping up and down excitedly) yes isn’t it great? I could interview you again then.Do you think you will make it to the post-season
EB-I think we may give it a miss this season
AM-(makes a sad face) that’s a shame.can I ask you one final question about baseball?
EB-is it about baseball?
EB-ok ask away
AM-if you had to think of one phrase to define the "touch ‘em all" range of accessories what would it be?
At this point of the interview the sound becomes distorted, but there is some shouting and what seems to be a scuffle,eventually a bystander can be heard to shout "Dear God,he’s got her by the throat" .
End of tape.
People often come up to me and ask "Russell,if you had to pick a celebrity baseball team who would be in it?" So to stop the constant questions here is a celebrity team to beat the best.To avoid confusion I’ve decided to stick to celebrities from your side of the pond (incidentally it’s not actually a pond, it is,in fact, very large ocean). geography lesson over with let’s move on to the selections;
Catcher- Michael Chiklis- the "Shield" and "Fantastic Four" star would be ideal for blocking the plate and he has a very good arm.
First Base-Denzel Washington-The toughest choice I had to make (to the extent that I was considering playing Chiklis at first with Jon Goodman catching) I’m just not convinced that Washington has what it takes to be an everyday player.
Second Base-Jerry Seinfeld- He brings experience to the infield but just doesn’t have the range to play at short stop.
Short stop-Will Smith-Smith will hopefully form a reliable partnership with Seinfeld.
Third Base-Matt Le Blanc-Everything about Le Blanc says "third base" (I have no idea what this sentence means).
Center Field- Matt Damon-Damon has proved in the "Bourne" movies that he can cover a lot of ground.He is the ideal center fielder for this team.
Left Field-Ben Stiller- Another tough choice.Brad Pitt and Keanu reeves were heartbreakingly close to being selected but in the end Stiller gets in for his hitting.
Right Field-Jake Gyllenhaal-The easiest decision I had to make.Gyllenhaal in right field is a no brainer.
Pitcher-Wentworth Miller- The first instinct was to go with Kevin Costner but his age is against him.The guy from "Prison Break" has a decent fastball and a good curve ball.
Manager-Jack Nicholson-He will command respect from this team.
Mascot-Ben Affleck-Affleck has been begging me for a role in this team but the best I can offer is "Hollywood Horace" the team’s mascot (which is probably the best role he has had in quite a while).
I don’t expect that this will be the line up that will end the season (Washington and Stiller in particular have yet to completely convince me that they merit their positions) but I expect them to at least be in the hunt for the Wild Card.
A three game series coming up against the Dodgers that should let us know for certain whether the D-Backs are going to make it into the post season.Avoid a sweep and it’s pretty much job done. The pitching match ups look fairly even,the Dodgers look anything but unbeatable and the Diamondbacks seem to have a lucky star hanging over them at the moment. But like any moderately sane sports fan I am convinced that complete disaster is only one day away and I won’t really be breathing easy until it’s a mathematical certainty.
I was going to begin handing out some seasonal awards to the players today but then I thought "No, these guys are on multi-million dollar contracts and I’m sat here in my alcohol soaked clothes desperately hoping that the electricity stays on for another 5 minutes so that I can finish this piece before I crawl beneath the newspapers that pass for a blanket in the forlorn hope that sleep provides some respite from this waking **** that I call a life". So I won’t be handing out any awards today.I will save the awards until I’m stuck for something to write about.So probably tomorrow.
The people of Slough were in uproar today when it was announced that this blog would be relocating to Vancouver at the end of the year. A spokesman for AVS said "Vancouver is good enough for Microsoft so it’s good enough for us.There is no way Bill Gate’s is going to make us look second rate." (It’s this kind of business acumen that has led to a 10th year of record losses). Meanwhile in Slough there were huge protests and the towns public buildings and airports remain closed until further notice.The Mayor of Slough said "Slough would not be Slough without this blog, it’s all we live for".
From a personal point of view I will benefit from being in the same time zone as the Diamondbacks and a short 3 hour flight away.I will also benefit from the weather in Vancouver which I believe is 350 days of sun a year with temperatures in the high 80s almost guaranteed. On the downside the natives seem to favor a game called "ice-hockey" in which I have little interest,but I’m confident that they will welcome my lectures on the delights of baseball and soccer (I find the people of the Colonies to be a simple but hospitable bunch who are only too pleased to learn the latest fashions from the mother country).
In the meantime this blog will continue to be produced in Slough until further notice and the management wish to deny any of the scurrilous rumors that suggest that it is being written by 5 year old orphans in Malaysia.
A player by the name of Ankiel
Had a Doctor who said "This is the deal"
"Take this stuff by the hour
Just pretend it’s to help you to heal".
Thus I reduce a complex and morally ambiguous problem to the level of second rate Music Hall. Be sure to join me next time when I will be remembering players from the past.Now if I can just think of a rhyme for Puckett….
As soon as I hit the save button on my last post (in which I declared that all was well in the Diamondback universe) Orlando Hudson was declared to be out for the season. Obviously I take full responsibility for his demise and this morning punished myself with 20 lashes from a cat o’ nine tails (that’s 10 more than usual).
Clearly Hudson will be missed but I doubt that it will be a killer blow to the D-Backs post season hopes.One of the striking aspects of the season so far is that no one individual has got outstanding numbers, some are very good,some are good and some are okay, and in a strange way this provides the team with insurance against injuries, since we have no figure such as Pujols or A-Rod who’s loss would be devastating to their particular teams.In fact if losing a below .300 hitter is deemed to be crucial then you’re in big trouble anyway. If there is any loss to be felt it will be his leadership on the field, but Eric Byrnes came through big in that area last night and the run in is too short and too intense for the loss of Orlando to be any excuse as a decisive factor.
The big worry at the moment is the pitching. The discussion in recent days has been about who should be the fifth starter, but given Micah Owing’s recent outings the fourth starter spot can now be added to the debate, although Melvin should only have to use him 3 times in the remaining games,so again, not a decisive factor.
Now, back to the cat o’ nine tails.
My word that felt like a big win last night against the Cardinals.A win for Brandon,the bull-pen doing it’s job, and a save for Valverde.An insurance home run in the bottom of the eighth and a game ending double play.It all looked eerily reminiscent of a team that is good enough to make the post-season.The other results went our way as well.The Padres got hammered at the Rockies (in a game that Peavy could have been pitching in),the Dodgers gave up a lead to lose to the Giants and in the wild card pack the ever reliable Kim got a win against the Phillies. Incidentally I was a lone voice in calling for the Diamondbacks to keep Kim when everybody else was critical.I distinctly remember writing "Kim must be kept" or maybe it was "Kim must be killed"? I just know that it began with a K, which is ironic since none of his innings with the D-backs began with a K. Either way I bear him very little ill will.
It feels like the momentum is back with Arizona again after a distinctly edgy spell, and even a relentless pessimist like myself can at least dare to think about October baseball.