The Washington Nationals host the Arizona Diamondbacks this evening and I have my colleague John, a displaced-Washingtonian, answering questions about them and predicting the series. He previously answered questions about the Arizona Cardinals.
WFY: Coming off of winning the NL West last year, the Diamondbacks are a trendy pick to repeat. So, far they are about .500 in the small sample size of April. Are you sensing any concern?
JDH: No concern at all. They’ve been hit by the injury bug early with Dan Hudson and Chris Young going on the DL. Young was off to a scorching start before heading to the DL. As much as they miss the offense, his glove in center field is irreplaceable.
Jason Kubel seems to be getting comfortable in the last week or so. He’s a key addition to this team that will add more pop to the lineup. Fans want Gerardo Parra in the lineup, and rightfully so coming off a gold glove season, but his bat is not equal to Kubel’s. Josh Collmenter has struggled, as expected. Patrick Corbin made his major league debut this week and got an win. Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs are waiting in the wings. The pitching staff will be bolstered by the young guys once Collmenter loses his spot. This is going to be a tough staff to beat once it’s settled.
WFY: Where do the Diamondbacks rate in the Arizona sports scene?
JDH: The Diamondbacks are very popular in Phoenix. I would rank the four teams as Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Suns and Coyotes. The Coyotes are very popular right now, of course, but it’s too little too late for them.
WFY: Aren’t the Diamondbacks basically wearing an edgier version of the original Nats uniforms? Do they ever wear the purple throwbacks? Do you see many people wearing D-Backs caps around? Is Diamondbacks kind of a stupid name?
JDH: It’s very similar. I have to say that I greatly prefer the current uniform to the old purple ones. There’s a large contingent of fans here that hate the new ones, though. I’ve even heard of people that haven’t attended a game since they made the switch. I don’t get that. You do see a lot of hats around town. People do wear the gear.
They wore the purple throwbacks for a series last year when they were celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their World Series team. I honestly haven’t seen them wear those outside of that weekend.
I like the Diamondbacks name. It fits in well with the desert themed names of all the other teams.
WFY: How is the ballpark experience there? What is the quintessential Chase Field food and beer? Do they ever open the roof?
JDH: Chase Field is so massive that I think it detracts from the ballpark experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but it’s just not what I consider a ballpark. However, the customer service and attention to the fans is top notch.
I’m not sure that I could name a quintessential food at the park as I rarely eat there. They have a nice selection of beers on tap including beer from some local breweries (Four Peaks). They also have $4 14oz. beers, the cheapest in MLB per ounce.
The roof is open way more than you would think. It hasn’t been closed at all this season and we’ve already broken 100 degrees. You’d be surprised how comfortable it is in the park when the roof is open and it’s 100 outside. I don’t think they close it until it creeps towards 110. They also do a nice job of closing it during dust storms.
They have a race with costumed characters of former players? Last I heard, they ripped off the “Teddy Never Wins’ with Mark Grace.
It’s called the Legends Race and includes Mark Grace, Randy Johnson, Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez. I wasn’t aware that the Mark Grace character had never won the race, but your story checks out.
WFY: For a team that won the World Series in dramatic fashion in their fourth year, the D-Backs don’t come off as that interesting to an outsider. Am I wrong?
JDH: It all depends on what you consider interesting. The team took quite a hit after building through free agency to win their World Series. It has taken some time, but they’ve positioned themselves to be good for a long time by having strong drafts. Their pitching staff is going to be one of the best in baseball within the next two years.
Personally, I like teams that build through the draft and have success versus buying their success through free agency. I find that more interesting.
WFY: Who are you rooting for? The team in your current town or the team from your hometown (that you had season tickets for in year 1 before remaining loyal to the…Pittsburgh Pirates?).
JDH: I bought season tickets the first season because it was awesome to finally have baseball back in DC. I’m glad to see the Nats doing well and they certainly have an exciting future ahead of them. That being said, I have no allegiance towards them.
It was hard to stay interested in the Nats because of the way the team was run after they were purchased by Lerner. On top of that, I find the game day experience at Nats Park to be one of the worst and I’ve been to a lot of parks. The customer service is horrendous and there’s absolutely nothing to do around the park.
I’ll root for the DBacks since they’re my new home team. No team will ever replace my love for the Pittsburgh Pirates, though. My dad taught me growing up that NL baseball was the only real baseball. Little did I know at the time how right he was. This is why I never latched on to the Orioles like so many other people from the DC area.
WFY: Who takes the series?
JDH: The Nats win the series. Bryce Harper is pretty good.