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We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats....

Hunter Thompson is gone. There are no frightening bats in the desert.

There is, however, much to be afraid of.

Consider this. Bauxites have spent much of the winter moaning about Shea Hillenbrand. The new DH does not have impressive power, is a notorious hacker who never takes a walk, and is clearly not someone can fill the shoes of the mighty Cliff Johnson. And all this is true.

In 2004, Shea Hillenbrand led the Arizona Diamondbacks in RBI. You knew that already. He also led them in hits, doubles, total bases, batting average, slugging average, and (gasp! shudder!) on-base percentage. No he didn't lead the team in Home Runs. That was Steve Finley - remember? The guy they traded away in July?

They had the best pitcher in the National League, of course. He was also, by far, the ugliest pitcher in the National League. The Diamondbacks spent most of the year trying deseperately to trade him away, to some real baseball team. He clearly didn't fit with the program. They actually did get rid of him once the season was over.

Randy Johnson is gone, and the Diamondbacks are still hideous to contemplate. And as ugly as it was, it has a chance to get uglier still. Fans will be coming down out of the stands, either asking for tryouts or attempting to commit acts of random and senseless violence on the players, coaches, management, and ownership. Just because it's a dry heat in the desert doesn't mean don't go berserk and insane.


The catcher is Koyie Hill, who is 26 years old and has 39 major league at bats. He hit .286 in his second year in the Pacific Coast League. Does he have power? Here's a hint - he has 37 minor league homers, in 529 minor league games, 1980 at bats.

Chad Tracy is at first base - he's a young left handed Shea Hillenbrand, moving across from third base. He hits for a good average, doesn't have much power. He walks a little more than Hillenbrand. He's young enough to improve, and all we can say is he damn well better.

Craig Counsell is at second base. Yes, the Craig Counsell. Wait, it gets better.

Royce Clayton is the shortstop. Royce Clayton! There is nothing more depraved and irresponsible than a man on an ether binge, unless its a major league executive who says proudly "Craig Counsell and Royce Clayton are going to be our double-play combination."

They think Troy Glaus is going to play third base. And if he can't - what the hell. Just switch him and Chad Tracy, right? No harm done.

Luis Gonzalez is supposed to play LF. He'll be 37 this year. Here are his yearly home run totals since he arrived in Arizona: 26, 31, 57, 28, 26, 17. Does one of those numbers look something like a fluke? Of Brady Anderson proportions? No? You found Hunter's stash! And you're not sharing...

In centre field... it's our old friend Jose Cruz. As he wanders from team to team, Cruz has become very consistent, if you like that sort of thing. In each of the last three years, he has hit between .242 and .250, with from 18-21 HRs and 68-78 RBI. So you know what you're going to get. He turns 31 next month, so he's a good bet to improve, right?

In right field, another old Blue Jay. Here are Shawn Green's batting averages for the last four seasons: .297, .285, .280, .266 - his slugging percentages have gone from .598 to .459. Of course, now that he's 32 years old, he's sure to turn that around.

With Randy Johnson in New York, the D'Backs noticed that their best pitcher was a guy with a 7-16 record. Yes, Brandon Webb is back, and he was easily their second best pitcher last year. His ERA was 3.59 - he was actually pretty good. He and Johnson were the only guys on the team who won more than 4 games.

Yeah, that sentence said what you think it said. Let's say it again.

Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb were the only pitchers who won more than four games in 2004.

At a certain point, things get beyond ugly. Even the Diamondbacks management had to take notice. So they signed Russ Ortiz, and got Javier Vazquez in the Johnson trade. These guys are both pretty decent. What is the point? They should be looking to trade both of them by the All-Star Break, before their Spirits are Completely Broken and Crushed. They also have Shawn Estes, Mike Gosling, and Oscar Villarreal to fight over the other rotation spots. Whoop-dee-doo.

The bullpen features Greg Aquino, Brandon Lyon, Randy Choate, Mike Koplove, Jose Valverde... such a collection of ne'er do wells, has-beens, and never-was-at-alls as one could hope to meet.

People, this is a disgrace. Its one thing to be bad if it looks like you're trying to be good someday. If you can say, look we have a bunch of young players, and someday...

Did you see this lineup? Craig Counsell! Royce Clayton! Jose Cruz!

Imagine what it must be like to have to cheer for these guys.

Fear and Loathing in Phoenix: the 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Tyler - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 09:17 PM EST (#107625) #
Magpie, I'm not sure if you're new to the Roster or not, but you're swiftly becoming my favourite writer around here. An excellent preview of what will surely be an abomination of a season. With the news about Bonds, the NL West might be even weaker than the AL Central this year.
Rob - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 10:23 PM EST (#107627) #
I'm not sure if you're new to the Roster or not

Oh, he is new. And he's making the 2005 Batter's Box Rookie of the Year competition look like the 2001 NL ROY voting, with yours truly playing the part of Adam Dunn.

Even when he rolls a 900-word article off in an hour or two, it's not bad. Of course, anyone can bash the Diamondbacks, no matter how lovable Scott Service is.

Keith Talent - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 11:00 PM EST (#107630) #
I nearly rolled my eyes when I saw the "Fear and Loathing" headline until I realized it was part of a genuine homage to Thompson: Well done! Too many writers are using the "fear and loathing" thing far too loosely, simply to describe a negative situation, and are turning it into a damn cliche. But "fear and loathing" is closer to what Mr. Jim Lahey of Trailer Park Boys calls a "shit abyss", something like the D-Backs are facing for 2005. Are they still paying Matt Williams?

Excellent review on the Diamondbacks. WH Auden's quotation applies here: "One cannot review a bad book without showing off." The same goes for baseball teams, bravo!
Mick Doherty - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 11:17 PM EST (#107631) #
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." -- Hunter S. Thompson

Mags, how did you manage to write this whole preview without mentioning Wally Backman?
NDG - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 08:26 AM EST (#107635) #
Excellent writing Magpie. And it's not just the rooks that need to look out, Craig, Moffat et all should also be worried;) My guess is Magpie's hazing is going to be pretty bad ...

I particularily liked this line:

They had the best pitcher in the National League, of course. He was also, by far, the ugliest pitcher in the National League.

Great review!

Jobu - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 10:07 AM EST (#107636) #
If Rob's Dunn, who's Bud Smith?
Fear and Loathing in Phoenix: the 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.