Whether you’re talking flight miles, scoreboard innings or blood, sweat and tears, it was a long way to go for the heartbreaking payoff the Arizona Diamondbacks endured Friday night in Milwaukee.

You can pull apart all the missed opportunities. You can talk about how Ian Kennedy — who otherwise pitched very well — failed to capitalize after a fabulous catch by Chris Young in the sixth inning when he threw a mistake that Yuniesky Betancourt turned into the go-ahead single.

You can argue why, after tying the game in the ninth at 2-2, manager Kirk Gibson didn’t have Aaron Hill bunting with two on and nobody out. You can ask Justin Upton exactly how many chances he needs to be a hero.

(By the way, did it have to be Nyjer Morgan, or Tony Plush, or whomever he saw himself as, to plunge in the final sword? There are so many hard-working, up-standing, deserving Brewers who could have ended this series with some class. For such a well-played series on both sides, it was lame to end with all that strutting, all those F-bombs on camera and a really classy, “I’ve got nothing. I’m out.”)

Just lovely, T-Plush. Usually, you have to go to Ron Artest or Mike Tyson for that kind of postgame breakdown. Couldn’t one of his personalities have calmed down long enough to answer a question?

But to question a team that was down-and-dead in an 0-2 hole last Sunday and on life support, then pushed this series to the 10th inning of Game 5, who forced extra innings by getting to a guy (Milwaukee closer John Axford) with 43 straight saves, against a team that was 81-1 with a ninth-inning lead this year, would be in poor form.

Gerardo Parra, who hadn’t had a hit since Rick Perry was the Republican presidential front-runner, opened the ninth with a double. Sean Burroughs, after taking the dramatics of an inside pitch to new heights, bloops one over shortstop. One Kirk Gibson safety-squeeze-special later, it’s just another wild ride on the D-Back bandwagon.

The Diamondbacks won’t take you all the way. Not this year. But for a team with more fifth starters than the Yankees have underachieving, overpaid superstars, 96 wins, (48 come-from-behind victories) and more drama than a 14-year-old girl’s diary takes a little sting out of the end result.

With a sprouting farm system, no albatross contracts and a fan base just figuring out what’s up downtown, the best might be yet to come.

Quick hitters

•As disappointing as Brett MacLean was in training camp, don’t be surprised if you haven’t seen the last of him in a Coyotes uniform.

Winnipeg picked him up off waivers as a Band-Aid for several early-season injuries. Unless MacLean impresses quickly in the ‘Peg, there won’t be room when the wounded return and someone will have to go. Every other NHL team will have to expose a player to claim him on waivers, except the Coyotes who can simply re-claim him and send him to the minors.

Cardinals 23, Vikings 20: Another road game against a winless team. Another game that Arizona clearly wins on paper, but will struggle mightily between the lines.

Minnesota is this close to benching Donovan McNabb, this close to having Adrian Peterson go all Barry Sanders on them and this close to taking a good hard look at stadium blueprints in Los Angeles.

But all bets are off on the Big Red, who should be 3-1 at worst but simply can’t close out an opponent. I’m going to call a win here because, looking at the schedule, I really don’t know when I’ll have another chance.

•The first two weeks of the NBA season are now on the chopping block. With both sides having now made their last, best offer - the players want 53 percent of revenues, while the owners are intent on a 50-50 split - you may want to consider a Christmas Day without wall-to-wall basketball, and a lot more conversation with relatives.

Hey, I’m just the messenger.

 

Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at jbrown5548@aol.com

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