For so many years prior, the Diamonbacks had always been the team “with the talent to break through”. Finally in 2011, under the hands of Kirk Gibson, they did break through and won the division title:
Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, Jason Kubel, and Takashi Saito.
Jason Marquis, Sean Burroughs, Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, Armando Galarraga, and Micah Owings.
Why?: Just as the Padres’ situation was a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the subtraction column, this is a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the additions. Sure there aren’t as many additions as there are subtractions, but the talent level on the addition side of the equation vastly outweighs that of the subtraction side. On the addition side you have Jason Kubel and on the subtraction side you have Sean Burroughs (who I only included, because I almost caught his first HR back from his addiction problems the day of the Virginia earthquake). You can see how this would add up to me giving them a B.
The Diamonbacks actually got over-shadowed this offseason in terms of being a really good team that made improvements. The two teams getting the most press in that department are the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. I really think people should be making a bigger deal about them than they are. The scary thing is that they won as many games as they did (94) with being a flawed team. The highest batting average on the team came from Gerardo Parra, who was quite possibly the weak spot in the lineup. If guys like Justin Upton and Chris Young could have higher batting averages instead of being just power threats, there’s no telling how good this team could be. I really can’t explain how this team won as many games as they did, yet it didn’t feel flukey.
Also just a thing that I find interesting. Anyone remember when the Diamondbacks were about to trade Justin Upton? He was on the block and everything, but they decided to keep him. What happens to this team if he is on some other team? Just an interesting thought.
Predicted Record Range: 91-96 wins
Next Up: Left are the only two team I did vlogs for in the last series of entries
As a person who identifies himself as a Twins fan more than a fan of any other team, I would just like to forget that 2011 happened and be happy that Terry Ryan is back at GM to hopefully rebuild this shell of a team:
Josh Willingham, Jason Marquis , Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, and Joel Zumaya.
Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, and Matt Tolbert.
Why?: I just really don’t like that the Twins lost two of the most underrated Outfielders in baseball and their closer. This doesn’t seem like it went that well. To tell you the truth, I’m just still depressed that the Twins season was so bad and that I went to their stadium the one of the few series the whole year that it would be packed. I really can’t think straight anymore when it comes to the Twins. True, I did give the Twins a D- in this same entry last year, but I didn’t expect that losing most of their bullpen would result in a season of 30 fewer runs, and really, it didn’t. The whole team stunk last year. Michael Cuddyer was their All-Star rep and he ended the year with 20 HRs. This was a below-average season for him, but he was the best player on the team through the first half. They were just THAT bad.
I can’t explain at all what happened. It’s like the whole team just decided collectively to have the worst season of their careers. All I can say is that I really hope Terry Ryan can pick up where he left off and start getting the Twins back to the playoffs. Actually, the Twins never were a team for a big offseason haul. They really just didn’t lose too much in the offseason and developed talent. For example, they still made the playoffs the year Johan Santana. True, Bill Smith messed up big time by only getting back Carlos Gomez and Phillip Humber for Santana, but they made the playoffs (I remember that the Red Sox were offering Buchholtz and another player while the Yankees were on the verge of offering Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera. Everything worked out well in retrospect for the Yankee fan in me as the Mets took their rightful spot loserville, but I would have liked to see the Twins get a little more back. Yay for parenthetical statements!).
Also I really don’t like Target Field for the Twins. As a person who went there this year, it *is* a really nice stadium, it’s friendly and absolutely gorgeous, but it seems to be a disadvantage to the Twins. Yes they did do really well in the first year at Target Field, but this seems more natural. I guess I should actually wait a few more years to get a broader sample base, but it just doesn’t scream home to me like the Metrodome did. The Twins were better at home, but only by three games. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact that I prefer domed stadiums, but I would have liked to see the Twins stay in the H.H.H Metrodome -or whatever it is they’re calling it these days.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins. I know I have the Twins getting worse as a result of this offseason, but I just can’t imagine them being worse than last season.
I would rather forget this day as quickly as I possibly can. This three game series was supposed to be my redemption for a horrible trip to the mid-west (snagging wise). Just about everything went wrong that could have gone wrong. Let’s go through the list shall we.
1. My bus broke down and I had to switch buses causing a 30 minute delay at the very least.
2. I got to Washington 15 minutes after the earthquake that day and as a result the roads were blocked off and I arrived to Union Station (our final destination) at 3:30 which was 6 hours after we left New York. Due to the earthquake, Union station was closed and I couldn’t take the metro from there. Here is the crowd gathered there:
3. I had to walk about 2 miles with my backpack that was packed like a suitcase, in 90+ degree heat in my long pants and sweatshirt that I had on because the bus is always pretty cold, to the nearest train station and get on that. Though, I can be thankful I didn’t get to Washington like 30 minutes later because this was the traffic:
4. After finally getting on the train itself and riding my initial stops seamlessly and slowly, I ran into a bit of a crowd at my transfer station:
The crowd was like ten people deep all the way across a platform that was about 500 feet wide. So, it took a few trains for the 10th person back to get on a train because only so many people can fit on one train. Given the fact that the trains were running at reduced speeds for workers to make sure the tunnels were structurally sound and every other train was different at this same stop, it wasn’t a surprise that I got to the ballpark an hour and twenty minutes after I left Union Station at 4:50.
5. Due to the delayed metro etc., Nationals Park was understaffed and made us wait until 6:40 to enter the park. For example, here is a guard who usually supervises the whole let-in-the-people-at-4:30-and-make-sure-everything-goes-smooth actually setting up a gate:
6. The gates didn’t open until 6:40 which was 20 minutes before the game was scheduled to start and this is what I felt like:
Oh and want to see all the productive work I was getting accomplished:
I took the picture with some thought process in mind that I as going to explain here but it was along the lines of: “Usually that sign says WELCOME TO NATIONALS PARK but the fact that the gates aren’t open makes the sentence WE COME TO NATINALS PAK” For those who don’t know, the Nationals had a jersey mistake a few years ago where Majestic Athletic actually spelled their name as “Natinals” on the jerseys of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. Since then, it has been a running joke in baseball and beyond to call them the Natinals whenever they are trying to be put in a negative/mistake prone light and it as interesting that the bars left this message. I know it’s a bit confusing but it made sense in my head at the time. Oh and the “we” that the modified inscription was referring to was this whole pack of people that came to the ballpark but were still waiting to get in:
7. While I was at the gate waiting for it to open, I got into a discussion about snagging baseballs with a kid who was about 10 and with his dad and got ridiculed by him for only snagging two baseballs at US Cellular in my last game.
8. The final and most painful of the day’s misfortunes was during the game itself. So of course I will take you step by step through how exactly I messed this up. First of all, the video of this situation is here. It would be a video of Sean Burroughs’ first Home Run in five years due to substance abuse problems, which also happened to drive in the only two runs of the game. Now this is no Josh Hamilton story but it would have been nice to catch part of such a nice story and had I, who knows, he might have asked for it back because it meant so much to him.
Anyway, I will show you what to look for in the video.
1. Seconds 3-7 show me running across two sections towards where I thought the ball was headed, the ball hit off the hands of a person to whom the ball was hit, hit off my hand, bounce into a seat in the row in front of me and roll me reach down to grab it. Here I am beginning my run to the ball:
I apologize for the blurriness but this is from the video I linked to and the camera is moving. The arrow on the left is where I was sitting and the arrow to the right is pointing to the blurry reddish figure as I was wearing my D-Backs jersey. This next screen shot shows the moment about a half a second before the ball touched down:
The left arrow would be pointing to me and the right pointing to the guy off whose hands the ball bounced. Here the arrows represent the same things as they did in the last picture but it is while the ball is bouncing off of my hand:
2. Seconds 12-13 show the person in the row behind me holding the ball up:
The left arrow would be the guy with the ball in his seat and the right arrow would be me still looking for the ball. What happened was that the ball fell into the seat and I started looking for the ball in the seat but when it wasn’t there I started looking in the row in front of the seat and so forth when I noticed that everyone was looking behind me. This two seconds or so on the video actually document me looking at their faces and turning back to come to the sad realization that I had completely missed the ball. Let me put you in my head a little further by explaining how confused I was at this moment. I would have understood how the ball ended up in his hands but it had been traveling forwards and the person who was in possession of it was sitting down. I had no idea how this happened until I looked at the tape and saw that….
3. Seconds 48-54 show a replay of what happened in the seats and reveal this:
If you are confused as to what you are looking at I don’t blame you. the right arrow is just to show where I was. You can sort of see my maroon-ish jersey peeking out between the bald guy’s arm but the important thing is the left arrow, which shows the guy who ended up with the ball reaching through my legs to snatch up the ball. What I figured out later was that the ball was indeed wedged in the seat for how brief a moment but when I or the other people converging on the ball hit the seat towards the field the seat created a ramp of sorts for the ball and it shot through my legs just as I was searching for it in the seat.
9. Oh and there was something the camera didn’t pick up: the guy threw the ball back. Why would you go through all that effort to get the ball if you’re just going to throw it back onto the field.
By the way, here is the path I had to take to get to the ball in the first place:
The two connected arrows show the path I ran and the lone arrow points out the guy that ended up with the ball.
I don’t want to say, though, that it was just a day of bad breaks because there were two positives that happened.
1. I did get to see the Nationals top three prospects get honored and have their first taste of stardom:
2. There were people that saw my effort. This group of four:
commented a few times on how far I ran and what an effort I had given and eventually gave me this in the ninth:
Apparently they had gone to the Nats’ team store and bought that for me. It was a very kind gesture and as they say made my day. The end.