by Joshua Worley
Will anyone east of the Mississippi River be watching the National League Championchip Series? The Cubs, I guess, were the only good national draw in the National League playoffs this year. This is a shame, since the Rockies are the best story, by far, in all of baseball. But I think the habit of ignoring them is just too ingrained for them to really capture a wide range of interest. If the Cubs are loveable losers, then the Phillies are the surly losers. There's just an unpleasant edge around the Phillies and their fans, and I'm not sorry at all to see them out of the playoffs. The Phillies unexpected ascent into the playoffs never felt as pure and joyous as the Rockies ascent did, probably because of the palpable anger there would have been in Philadelphia if they had come up short yet again.
Then there are the Snakes. I don't think the Diamondbacks are a very good story, nor a fun team to watch, particularly. Except for one exception nothing about this team excites me, unlike the other three teams still alive in 2007. They win games, somehow, and that's about it. That fine for their fans, and boring for everyone else. How many fans are we talking about, though? They have trouble even selling out their home ballpark for the NLCS. What a waste of a playoff spot, in a way. But they did earn it. I'm glad Bud Selig and TBS can't rig things to get their way, which would certainly have not included the Snakes making the NLCS.
The Snakes do the bare minimum required to move along. I wish the Dodgers could have done even that much! I congratulate the Snakes on getting way more out of their middling team than any analysis says they should have. As a Dodger fan I'm very jealous.
The Snakes don't hit well, on balance. Worse, they have no exciting hitter, no one I will make sure I watch when he comes up, no one whose looming presence in the batting order I'm aware of. I want to see Ortiz and Manny hit for Boston. And Holliday and Tulowitzki in Denver. And Sizemore and Hafner and Martinez in Cleveland. You don't want to miss it when these guys hit, especially Ortiz and Holliday. But on the Snakes? I don't know, maybe Byrnes, a little bit. But he's more of a second tier guy, whom the other three teams have plenty of as well, such as Helton or Youklis or Hawpe.
One could argue that it's exciting to watch Upton for his raw potential. Not Chris Young, though. That would be like asking a non-Dodger fan to get excited for watching Ethier bat. Maybe in a few years, but not now. Other than the occasional home run Young just doesn't do much. Young couldn't even get his on base percentage above 0.300. And not Drew either. I'd rather watch JD than Stephen at this point. Yeah, Stephen has hit some home run in the playoffs. So did Mickey Hatcher. Didn't make Hatcher a must watch batter.
Other than Webb the Snakes don't have any pitcher to get excited for. But yeah, Webb is big stage worthy. Webb v Francis is an underrated matchup, as good in its way as Beckett v Sabathia in the AL. But Webb is it. The Snakes have good relievers, but none of them are electric. No Gagne in his prime, or Saito, or Papelbon, or Rivera. The team is just a neverending expanse of blah. Lots of blah and lots of wins. Curse those wins!
I'm really looking forward to watching the Rockies play. The Snakes? Well, someone had to be the opponent. Maybe it's just as well it's not the Cubs, so that the great story of the Rockies isn't obscured by all the nonsense about loveable losers and billy goat curses. Let the Snakes be more fodder for the Rockies amazing win streak. I sure don't want to see them in the World Series.