Travis watches the team with the best record in baseball, and walks away from the night unimpressed, though the team isn’t even the reason.
· Drawn to tonight’s matchup by the scheduled pitching duel between the undefeated Brandon Webb and the nearly-undefeated Aaron Cook (I’m pretty sure this was my best opportunity to force myself into watching the Rockies this month), I ignored the 9:40 start time and showed up to watch this one a couple of innings in. Why? The season finale of The Office! When a show that’s had two brilliant season-enders in the last two years wants you to take an hour and watch this one, I find that doing so is a good idea.
· That being said, though we were treated to one of the season’s better episodes as a whole, this year’s finale fell victim to the high standards of the two aforementioned finales. I was really hoping that this was the point where we’d finally see Jim leave Dunder-Mifflin for good (his character’s gotten really stale at the place), and, not only was that not delivered on, but it seemed like we got cheated out of the Jim/Pam proposal, which has essentially been teased for the whole season, as well. Additionally, I think my patience is growing tired with the character of Michael Scott. Not only has the guy grown more immature since the series’ inception, but he’s repeatedly turning down opportunities at redemption, which was heavily emphasized in tonight’s episode. The writers are gonna need to (at least gradually) redeem the guy at some point, and it seems like they have no desire at all to do this. I’ll admit that every show this TV season has struggled with the year being so disjointed, so I trust that the people behind The Office know what they’re doing, but this one clearly goes down as the biggest disappointment of the three true Office finales thus far (For the purposes of this comparison, I don’t consider the season one finale, when the show was simply trying to ice a spot on the fall schedule so they could turn into a more serialized comedy, to be on the same playing field as the other three).
· Also, I should note that, in covering these games, I’m gonna try to keep each report to seven points or less, just because not even I’ll be able to take myself seriously after I inevitably put up over a thousand words on the Kansas City Royals. Without further ado:
15-25 Colorado (Aaron Cook, 6-1, 2.26) @ 25-15 Arizona (Brandon Webb 8-0, 2.41)
· In selecting this game, I realize that I’m watching two teams that are 4-6 in their last ten. It’s usually not a good idea to evaluate a top team when they’ve been slumping a bit, but, once again, when else am I gonna have a chance this good to knock Colorado off the list? Additionally, I’m pretty sure that Brandon Webb hasn’t been contributing to any losses lately. Regardless, Arizona comes into tonight with a four-game NL West lead, and Colorado’s sitting ten back in fourth (Thank goodness for the San Diego Padres!). Of course, the pitching matchup plays a lot into why I’m actually watching this one. Aaron Cook’s having a fantastic year as one of those “let the fielders handle it” type pitchers. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Arizona’s starting pitcher is attempting to go 9-0 on May 15 th.
· Let’s get the game stuff out of the way on this one. While I was still soaking in the virtues of the great Dwight Schrute, Arizona goes up 1-0 on three straight singles by their first three hitters of the night, which included my boy Orlando Hudson getting the RBI. They build it back up in the 5 th when Stephen Drew, who had a heck of a night going 4-for-5, drives in Chris B. Young with a double before being one of the tallies on a Chris Snyder three-run homer, which had me sensing a drawback to utilizing total mismatches to observe bad teams. Surprisingly, Colorado scraped back into it in the 8th, with a two-base Hudson fielding error allowing Scott Podsednik to get to third base, and a Matt Holliday single cutting the lead to 5-3, calling it a night for Webb. The D-Backs went back to work in the bottom of the inning, with a Justin Upton triple counting for two of a total three insurance runs tallied in the frame. The Rockies still got to Arizona’s bullpen, specifically Brandon Medders, to load the bases and manufacture another couple of runs, but it was too little, too late, and Arizona walked out with the 8-5 win.
· After five innings, I jotted down that Webb was shutting down what I perceived to be a solid hitting team (and he was, no regrets there), and that Arizona was getting plenty of guys on base against a pitcher who’s having a heck of a year himself, before stating that Arizona was undoubtedly the National League’s best chance to win the World Series. Four innings later, I was somewhat doubting that. I can see how the Diamondbacks challenge teams. They’ve got good starting pitching, an effective small ball offense, underrated power hitting, and a potentially dangerous defense (I watched enough of Hudson in Toronto to know this). Then again, I saw the worst of them tonight. They have an unproven bullpen and a ton of inexperience (everywhere but the starting pitching) that can lead to mistakes. They’re likely the most talented team in the NL, but they’re definitely one that’ll have to do a lot of work to win the league.
· Webb was definitely slipping around the 90 pitch mark, in the 7 th and 8 th innings, but gave a damn good performance. He’s definitely a pleasure to watch, though I thought he had the stuff to go the distance with a five-run lead, so seeing him slip up was a definite surprise. Then again, his fielders went and committed three errors to really help him out.
· As for Colorado, they’re a team that needs consistent pitching, and it’s tough to get by with a guy like Cook as your ace. The bats are still there, but the lack of arms is likely gonna leave them out of the race in this division. Cook himself (6:4 K/BB) didn’t give the type of performance I was expecting out of a guy who usually doesn’t live by the K/BB, but, to be fair, he has had his starts where the hits have piled up. This was definitely a case of those hits turning into runs, which he’s been lucky has been a very rare occurrence this year.
· I’m slightly shellshocked to see (via in-game graphic) that the following three players lead the American League in RBIs right now: Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin, and Emil Brown. At the beginning of the season, I would’ve been hard-pressed to say that all three were even in the American League.
· Finally, Daron Sutton and Mark Grace called this game on FSN Arizona. By the 8 th inning, it couldn’t have ended soon enough. I started off torn on Grace. I’m all for a guy who’s fully enjoying himself being in the booth, but the guy gets a bit distracted and talkative at times. As the night went on, there was more hit-and-miss work from his microphone, at one point beautifully deconstructing a Webb strikeout of Brad Hawpe before yelling the phrase “EN GARDE!” for what felt like the 20 th time to describe the evening’s perceived pitching duel. Even later, I realized that Grace was to Diamondbacks baseball what Woody Paige is to Around the Horn : The goofball that keeps the casual fan engaged. Grace and Sutton, one inning, spent a good couple of batters discussing how one could type “dbacks” instead of “diamondbacks” in order to receive text message alerts, with Grace stating that it’s “a timesaver”. I figured that would go down as the night’s most ridiculous moment, but the two later became major homers when Drew, attempting to go 5-for-5, reached on an error by Colorado second baseman Jonathan Herrera, who misplayed a bounce, which I considered to be the right call by the scorekeeper. Sutton and Grace disagreed with my view. No problems there, until they began stating that it would’ve been scored a hit in Colorado, due to the scorers there attempting to protect the Rockies’ fielding percentage. That was about the point where I needed the game to end. I can’t say that I enjoy a telecast which is nearly fully based upon fans bringing signs to home games hoping that the broadcasters shout them out on TV. I realize that I’m more of a baseball purist than most, but I was simply hoping for a more professional telecast from the team with the best record in baseball.
May teams left to watch
Chicago White Sox
All of Travis MacKenzie’s work can be found on his site, Travis Time. He also covers sports for the Brock Press. Any questions or comments directed towards Travis can be placed in comments on Travis Time, on any of his Armchair GM posts, or e-mailed to TravisTime@gmail.com