For the last couple of weeks, my expression has been fixed as one kind of like the one Kazuo Matsui had last night after Miguel Montero stumbled over second base to make the Diamondbacks' last out of the night an appropriately ugly summary. Really?
You know, there's nothing lamer than an unknown blogger taking potshots at the throne. It's self-serving and unseemly. But I am really disappointed in Bill Simmons lately -- he's so busy deeply inhaling the rich Boston smell of his own farts that he's completely ignored the best sports story of the whole year. Is it so wrong to want my favorite sportswriter to notice my favorite team, now that they're actually worthy of notice? It's a bummer. On the other hand Jeff Francis's Sports Illustrated cover is already framed and hanging in my living room.
My gut feeling entering this series was that either the Rockies would win in four or five or the Diamondbacks would win in six or seven. A lot of the local radio guys -- who can be excused for getting overexcited since they're in the same boat as me, ignored for years and suddenly now the most popular kids at the dance with no time to adjust to it -- have been crying "sweep!" I don't know about that. Arizona has been harder to beat than they look all year, and after spending the whole season waiting for a dramatic correction that never came I'm hardly going to be fool enough to write them off now.
I took the exact right course with the "controversy" in the NLDS. Manny Corpas poured a "liquid" on his jersey? In hundred-degree, hundred-percent-humidity weather in Philadelphia? Oh my stars, whatever could it have been? Likewise, there's no story about Game 1 other than how professionally Francis handled himself and how profoundly undeserving of a playoff team the Phoenix "fans" were. Justin Upton interfered with Matsui. Period. Shoulder charges are legal in the UFC, but not in MLB.
It's funny how many statheads have picked Arizona to win this series. Why is that, do you suppose? I think since the Diamondbacks made it all the way through the regular season defying all the experts' predictions regarding their negative run differential, sabermetrics folk have somewhat perversely rewarded them for doing so: "We don't know why they win, but they do." Also, stat guys have a problem with doubt. Once they're convinced of something, they tend to highly overvalue the difference between a guy of whom, say, they're 95% certain he's good and a guy whom they only feel 80% sure about. The Diamondbacks have a guy everybody is sure about in Brandon Webb. The Rockies have a lot more guys in the second category between Webb and rest of the Arizona players (who fall into two categories, might-one-day-be-good and for-sure-bad). The fact that Webb is definitely a really good player doesn't guarantee he will beat the Rockies three times, as Nate Silver wrote in his preview for SI.
Now he'll have to beat them at least twice, but we'll see if it even comes to that. The Rockies have an immensely favorable matchup tonight between better-each-time-out Ubaldo Jimenez and Doug Davis. Davis is the sort of savvy, timing-disrupting no-stuff veteran that used to give the Rockies fits. Something has really changed in the organization's culture these last few weeks, and Colorado has suddenly been doing what it needs do go in games like the one earlier this week at Coors where Jamie Moyer was writing a textbook on how a veteran pitches in a playoff game. Even the return of Willy Taveras can't stop us now, although in a reduced-run atmosphere like the playoffs, Taveras has a lot more value than he does as an everyday regular season player. He's also the Rockies' best defensive option in center, and with the middle of the Rockies lineup already far better than the Diamondbacks, they can afford to take Ryan Spilborghs' pop back to the bench.
If he misplays a pop-up into a game-losing triple, we'll assess Willy anew. But for now it seems like nothing can stop the momentum. It might even be time, dare I suggest it, for the Rockies to get out of those ugly sleeveless black things and start wearing their classier normal home and road jerseys again.