Instead of wondering what’s gone wrong with your defending NL West-champion Arizona Diamondbacks, let’s flip the issue on its side.
Think about everything that went right to allow Arizona to hang another flag at Chase Field in 2011:
•The Giants had a busted Buster Posey and a fractured lineup by late May.
•The Dodgers were baseball’s equivalent of Greece, smack in the middle of then-owner Frank McCourt’s own personal War of the Roses (not to mention what was going on out in the parking lot). The Dodgers were financially hamstrung at the trade deadline.
(Ask the 2008 D-Backs how the Manny Ramirez deal in L.A. changed a pennant race in a hurry).
•The Rockies were in the middle of a Mile High Meltdown with Ubaldo Jimenez serving as the eye of the storm, a grudge that wasn’t fully exposed until he was traded to Cleveland and went head-hunting for Troy Tulowitzki in a spring training game this past March.
Things aren’t much better this year, even after the Ubaldo-ectomy took his awfulness to Cleveland.
•The Padres? OK, moving right along ...
I’m not saying the D-Backs won by default last year. They had a great season, their pitching staff exceeded all expectations and Kirk Gibson brought an aggressive attitude to a team that needed one.
Now the one-run wins are one-run losses, the pitchers and everyday lineup doesn’t look formidable and Arizona fans are now checking the wild-card standings for hope.
Arizona shouldn’t be a losing team. It shouldn’t be scrounging for runs and consistent pitching efforts. But it’s also very rare that the tumblers fall into place the way they did for the Snakes last year.
Four months remain to dig in and battle adversity.
The Pro Bo-nus Stays
Here’s a stunner: The NFL players, who tell us that extending the NFL season to 18 games is a huge risk to their health, are going to force the league to pry the Pro Bowl from their cold, dead fingers.
You remember last year’s classic right? No pass rushing or touching the receivers allowed? To call it a game was an embarrassment. Don’t tell me that the game should stay because people still watch it. Look how many people watch the draft or the “release of the schedule” show. You could replace the Pro Bowl with highlights of Super Bowl III and only 10 percent of the audience would notice.
The players want their bonuses. They want the free trip to Hawaii for their families. They like that by the time all the injured and disinterested players bow out there are 60 guys in each conference that qualify as Pro Bowlers.
The fact that the game has turned into an embarrassing event seems inconsequential.
We need an idea. We need new eyes. We need a solution.
How about we take the two most useless games on the NFL schedule — the Pro Bowl and the Hall of Fame Game — and combine them into one game in Canton, Ohio, in August?
A week before the preseason games officially begin, the NFL honors the stars from the past with Hall of Fame induction and then the stars of the present play some touch-football game in the parking lot?
The Cardinals and the Saints are playing in Canton this summer. The starters will play about two series, and from there the players will become a blur of no-names while the announcers tell old stories about real games that really mattered.
Instead, we’d have the biggest names in the game facing off after 10 days of training camp in a glorified scrimmage.
All the injured players who beg out in January will be healthy and available. All the players who miss the game because they were taking part in the Super Bowl will be available.
Ok, the bonuses and the prestige just isn’t enough. No Hawaii. No vacation. We need more.
How about this? All of the players on the winning team, in addition to the money they already receive, get a hall pass on their team’s first preseason game? They only play two series anyway, why not run out of the tunnel with a ball cap instead of a helmet?
•The Suns will draft 13th. Steve Nash is heading elsewhere (count on it). Lon Babby says the team isn’t in a hurry to use its newly-found cap space. Three lottery seasons in four years and we’re still waiting to hear the plan.
I’m sure there is a team in the NBA that has a combination of less-established, bonafide NBA players, and less up-and-coming young talent. They just aren’t coming to mind right now.
•The D-Backs are under .500. The Mercury has temporarily lost Diana Taurasi and permanently Penny Taylor to injury. ASU baseball was on probation. The temperatures have hit 110 three weeks before the official start of summer.
When is that Hall of Fame game again?
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.