Land of the Free and the Home of the Diamondbacks

Ah, there is nothing quite like an afternoon of Major League Baseball in October, especially if your team is playing in its first ever National League Championship Series. The grass is greener, the sun is brighter and the hot dogs smell good enough to eat.


What is even sweeter is that the Diamondbacks are playing at home. That means an awful lot. It eliminates one more day of having to hear that annoying tomahawk chop that we have had to endure for the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I mean to infer that I dislike the Braves. It is just that we are all getting just a little tired of hearing the same old song. It is like when your little brother keeps humming that same tune over and over while you are sitting in the back of the car on a cross-country vacation. It was ok for the first six or seven hours but by the end of the third day, there were going to be some serious noogies if that kid didn’t learn a new song.

I admire the Atlanta Braves for being able to maintain such a high level of accomplishment during their tenure as a play-off team. They have defined a new level by which all sports franchises will be measured. During this run, they brought many fans into the game of baseball. Anything that will introduce a fan to the national pastime is a great thing in my book. As a kid growing up in Idaho, there was no Major League team anywhere near us. Living in a rural area, we had little hope of seeing anything besides the Baseball Game of the Week on Saturday mornings. When I was in High School, cable television was finally introduced into our area and with it TBS. I spent many hours in front of the television watching the Atlanta Braves as they became America’s team.

Now though, America has changed and so hopefully will the route to the World Series. It is time for the Diamondbacks to put an end to the annual march of the Braves to the fall classic. The first step in this new world order takes place at Bank One Ballpark where Randy Johnson will face Greg Maddux.

The Diamondbacks have proven in the 2001 regular season that the Braves are not the invincible force they once were. There are flaws in the armor of Atlanta. Although their starting pitching is still among the best in the National League, these guys aren’t getting any younger. Nor are they having the success they were accustomed to when the umpires called a more creative strike. With the new strike zone, Atlanta’s pitchers have had to adapt and this season they showed that their adaptation is not going as smoothly as they had envisioned.

Arizona’s hitters were very successful against the Braves pitching staff this year, especially against Greg Maddux. In the two meetings that Maddux had with the Diamondbacks, he allowed 13 runs on 21 hits and lost both games. This does not bode well for the Braves ace. If Arizona’s hitters continue to see the ball well, game 1 will be a very long afternoon for the visiting team.

Randy Johnson has a lot to prove after a somewhat off night in game 2 of the Divisional Series against the Cardinals. During that contest he was behind in the count for nearly the entire game. He cannot afford to let that happen in this game. He must step up and prove he is the ace of this ball club. In this seven game series, Johnson will have two starts while Schilling will have just one. This makes each of his outings very important if the Diamondbacks want to take that next step in the post season.

Although this series has all the earmarks of a seven game battle, the Diamondbacks must show from the first pitch that the NLCS is the land of the free and the home of the Diamondbacks.


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