Three Down, 159 to Go

It was a weird three game series against the Colorado Rockies. Opening Day began with a 1:05 PM Arizona time game. That was followed by a 5:35 PM Arizona time second game. It concluded with a 12:05 PM Arizona time concluding game. I don’t remember the last three game series the Diamondbacks played where 2 of the games were day games during the week. Maybe this weird scheduling is the reason the Diamondbacks dropped two of the three games. Personally I blame Rally Sally but then I blame her for everything including global warming. It’s kind of funny, all through Spring Training I had to keep reminding myself that the Diamondbacks winning record in March had absolutely nothing to do with how well they would fare in the regular season yet each time the team won my expectations for the season became greater. Conversely, every time the team lost I was ready to stand out on the ledge and prepare to jump off. Baseball is definitely a game of perspective.

Nearly every player or coach who has ever been interviewed has at one time or another referred to the baseball season as a marathon. I always just ignored that statement chalking it up to being an overused cliché. As I have become more and more involved in the game I have realized that a marathon is indeed an appropriate metaphor. How else do you explain the level of effort it takes to endure 162 games over 186 days? From April 1 through September 30 these players will play nearly 7 days a week. With the exception of July which contains the All-Star break, the players and coaches receive just 3 days off per month. Try to put that into perspective in your own life. How many of us would be willing to work at a job where we are away from our families for that long and only get a day off 3 times in a whole month. What makes matters even worse is that your job starts early each day with meetings and training and your employer expects you to be at work late into the evening. With these long hours you are subjected to further stress since your boss and your customers will continually evaluate your performance and will not hesitate to fire you if your performance is not continuously at the highest levels. And when you do succeed at your job through dedication and putting in years of these long hours you are rewarded only to have your customers, neighbors, and complete strangers complain how overpaid you are at your job. I wonder how many people in non sports industries would handle working under similar conditions. Let’s say for example you have a plumbing problem so you call in a plumber. He has been working 12-15 hour days all month and has only had 3 days off in the last 30. He comes to your house and begins fixing your pipes. You sit and watch him and all the while you are heckling him about his performance. If he turns the faucet handle the wrong way you boo him and throw peanut shells at him. When he finally finishes the job and presents you with a bill you complain about how expensive he is and that you used to fix the garden hose when you were little so you know the work he does is not that hard. Begrudgingly you pay him but expect him to come back tomorrow and do an even better job. If he doesn’t, you’ll call his boss who may let him go because he does not produce perfect results every day.

As baseball fans we always want success and that success must come immediately. When that doesn’t happen we look to place blame on someone and want measures taken to rectify the situation. Today’s game was a prime example. Pitcher Doug Davis struggled but worked through it to give his team an opportunity to get into the game. Following Davis the bullpen did an admirable job for 2 innings. Dustin Nippert and Juan Cruz allowed only 2 hits and 1 run to keep the game close while the offense tried to make some headway against the Rockies pitchers. The eighth inning though was the Diamondbacks undoing. J.D. Durbin came in during the eighth inning and allowed 7 runs on 7 hits while retiring only 2 batters. Diamondbacks fans immediately began calling for something to be done. With only 3 games into a 162 game season everyone wanted changes made to stop the madness. After the game pitcher J.D. Durbin was designated for assignment giving the Diamondbacks 10 days to trade him or release him. He can be claimed through waivers by another team essentially ending his Diamondbacks career. I saw J.D. Durbin on Monday. I watched him in the outfield and saw how excited he was to be an Arizona Diamondbacks player. He was introduced with the team and stood on the third base line proudly representing Arizona and hoping to make a contribution to the team. Yet 2 days later he finds himself basically without a job and potentially he may move to another state at a moment’s notice. J.D.’s situation is not just because of his performance. The Diamondbacks needed to make a roster change to make room for Friday’s starter Micah Owings but I am sure this is not the change that J.D. or the Diamondbacks had anticipated making. It just goes to show how delicate the balance is for a professional athlete. You’re only as good as your last performance review which may have been earlier today.

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