Not Out, Yet
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
Aug. 29, 2012 — There is just a little more than a month left in the 2012 major league baseball season, and if the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to make a run at a playoff spot, they are going to have conjure up a boatload of magic — and soon.
Those reading this might be saying, “anyone who peers at the standings can see that the D-backs are seven or so games behind in both the National League West division and the chase for the second wild card spot.”
No duh, right?
But it is not just that they are trailing by seven games with about 30 games left that necessitates some magic or something ‘extra-super-duper’ special. If the D-backs are somehow able to reach the playoffs this year, the biggest surprise will be that they did it with three left-handed rookies and two (so-far) underachieving, veteran right-handers.
Not even the worst-to-first 1991 Atlanta Braves — whose young rotation of Steve Avery, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine has recently been held-up as a target for Tyler Skaggs, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin to aspire to be — were as young and inexperienced as the D-backs current starting rotation. In 1991, Glavine already had four years under his belt, Smoltz had three and Avery — the baby of the group — had one year as a starter.
Sure, all three were dominant before 1991 and what held the team back the most in 1990 was that they had an anemic offense. And, ultimately, Corbin, Skaggs and Miley will be just as dependent on the Arizona offense to get something going at the plate in order for the team to have even a chance at a playoff spot.
The numbers don’t look good offensively. In August, the D-backs are only ahead of the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs with a .222 team batting average. They are dead last in team on-base percentage with a sickly .280 average.
Jason Kubel, who dominated in June and July, is hitting only .167 in August. Gerardo Parra is batting .212. Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero also underperformed in August with stats below their season averages.
Heck, without Aaron Hill and Justin Upton — who surged in the back half of August to prove all of the doubters wrong — the Diamondbacks might not even be in most of the August contests. Chris Young has shown recently that he might just be getting back to his pre-injury self, batting .293 over his last 10 games.
But the Diamondbacks just can’t seem to put it all together at the same time. That has been their modus operandi all season — they have never had any mojo working. When the starting pitching is dominant, the bullpen blew leads. When the bullpen is strong, the starters can’t get the ball to them with a lead. And, even when the entire pitching staff is throwing well, the offense is sputtering.
So can the D-backs capture lightning in a bottle over the next month and catch the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, or whoever else is above them?
The odds aren’t good, but all it takes is a little magic.
And since they haven't seemed to have any all year, maybe they are saving it up for the stretch run.
Unfortunately for the organization and its fans, though, the rest of 2012 is probably just a dress rehearsal for the next five or so years when they will arguably have one of the best rotations in all of baseball with an offense that just has to find some consistency at the right times.
A little luck wouldn’t hurt, either.
Both then and now.
D-backs Fans Not For The Better
In downtown Phoenix there is a place, that has seen a world championship and been full of grace.
But times have sure changed, and not for the better.
Players come and go, winning can never be forever, but the fans act like they are watching the game on TV, sitting on pleather.
There are few generational fans, its not Boston or New York, but the atmosphere in the stadium is less baseball than morgue.
Across every concourse, reverberating in the rafters, are disinterested fans, who could cheer louder with a mouthful of crackers.
The only time they all clap their hands, is when the scoreboard or organ leads the dying bands.
Oh, fans have sure changed, and not for the better.
Visiting teams commonly pack the place, hooting and hollering and creating disgrace.
There can be no magic on a consistent or regular basis, as long as the fans remain in a stasis.
At the end of the season, as the fans begin to complain, that the D-backs weren't able to win the division again,
Perhaps they should take a moment, to look in the mirror, and realize that being a fan means much more than gear.
Yes, fans have sure changed, and not for the better.
Bob Goodwood lives in Scottsdale. Reach him at email@example.com.
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