Game 1 of the National League Championship was still very fresh on everyone’s mind when the gates to Chase Field opened for Game 2. The Diamondbacks fans were still steaming over the questionable call by Larry “the lizard” Vanover on the slide by Justin Upton. No one is arguing that Upton was out, he clearly was. The frustrating part remains that Vanover made a judgment call that Upton’s intent was to take out the player. I challenge Larry “the lizard” to find me one base runner going from first base to second base who is not intent on breaking up the double play. Normally the umpire whips out Major League Baseball Rules 7.09 (e) and 7.09 (f) when a base runner goes out of his way not going near the base to take out the runner. The problem with this call was that Upton was on the bag when the call was made. It makes you wonder what Larry “the lizard” was daydreaming about when he made that call. That play was just a minor part of the conversation though. The majority of news outlets chose instead to dwell on the few fans that tested their pitching prowess by throwing debris onto the field.
It’s funny how the press has decided what was newsworthy from this series. Instead of focusing on the game on the field or the inconsistency of subjective rules such as 7.09 they chose to cast their magnifying glass on the fans of Phoenix. Leading up to Game 1 the radio waves and print media were filled with stories about how the Diamondbacks could not sell out a game and how apathetic the fans were. Yahoo! Sports hack Jeff Passan who hasn’t written anything resembling journalism since he was an intern for the Washington Post in 2002 was especially critical in his description of the stands during game 1. About the only part of his story that I found appropriate was the fact that Yahoo had provided him tickets in the nosebleed section of Chase Field. I’m sure if they could have they would have given him tickets on the roof or the parking garage. His description of Section 307 Row 40 was accurate at first pitch which occurred at 5:30 PM local time. What Passan didn’t disclose was that two of the valley’s major freeway systems that feed the downtown area were blocked down to one lane due to an accident and commuting gridlock. If Passan had remained for the whole game instead of hurrying back to his hotel to post his column so that he could go have some dinner he would have seen that by the second inning the stands were filled and the game was indeed a sell-out. Like most facts that one eluded Jeff Passan.
When the apathy card ceased to work the media turned their attention to the “rowdy” fans in the stands who threw debris onto the field during the seventh inning. According to police reports there were 10 arrests made during Game 1 and none of these were related to fans throwing things onto the field. The arrests were actually a fight that occurred between Diamondbacks fans and Rockies fans in the upper deck that turned to blows resulting in some blood loss (I’m not sure whether the blood was Sedona Red or purple). For all we know that fight may have been caused by Jeff Passan as he rushed to the exit to beat the crowds. It is journalists such as Passan that prove the theory proposed by Jorge Luis Borges that if you put an army of monkeys in a room filled with typewriters given enough time they may randomly type the complete works of William Shakespeare. All of these “reporters” who rushed to their computers or their microphones to condemn the Diamondbacks fans should have watched more closely. In those sections where bottles and trash were being thrown there were fans pointing out the perpetrators to security who removed the troublemakers from the stands. We may not have agreed with Larry “the lizard” Vanover but that doesn’t mean you have the right to brand an entire fan base. Perhaps if you showed up to more than one series during a season you could make a better value judgment of what kind of fans there are in Arizona.
The Diamondbacks had high hopes for Game 2 with Doug Davis on the mound. The game was much closer than Game 1 and it almost looked as though Arizona had figured out a way to even the series. The Diamondbacks got to Rockies closer Manny Corpas and tied the game in the ninth inning despite the efforts by Larry “the lizard” Vanover. For the second night in a row he found a way to insert himself into the flow of the game. Moving from second base to first base Larry “the lizard” was able to determine whether a hitter went around with a swing on an appeal by the catcher. He called every appeal a strike. A guy could shrug his shoulders and according to Larry “the lizard” that was a strike. I will give him credit he was consistent, he botched calls for both teams. Unfortunately the Diamondbacks were trying to be a little more patient than the Rockies and therefore had a few more go against them.
I can’t put all the blame on Larry “the lizard” though. Jose Valverde pretty much fell apart in the eleventh inning. After getting two men out he fielded a dribbler down the third base line and touched the foul line. That seemed to really freak him out and after that he couldn’t seem to throw a strike walking in what would be the winning run. It was a tough loss and now the Diamondbacks have to head to Colorado down 0-2 in the series. It’s weird because watching these two games the Diamondbacks have outplayed the Rockies yet find themselves winless.