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NLDS: D'backs swagger, Cubs stagger
Well, this series now has a signature moment.
With runners at second and third in the second inning, Cubs starter Ted Lilly had a 3-2 count on Diamondbacks rookie Chris Young and a 2-0 lead in the ballgame. Even though he had an open base, Lilly chose to challenge Young and made a grave mistake. Chicago's No. 2 pitcher left a 92 mph fastball over the plate, chest high, and Young made him pay, blasting a 421-foot shot into the left-field seats.
Not only did this homer give Arizona a lead it would never relinquish, but it also captured the two contrasting demeanors featured in this series.
Immediately after making contact, Young did his best Sammy Sosa swagger step, before starting into a glorious trot around the bases. As the Chase Field crowd roared with approval and the D-backs dugout exploded with excitement, the 24-year-old Young took in his first huge moment on the grand stage.
"You feel like you're floating on air when you're running around the bases," Young said. "There's no feeling like it."
This is a feeling shared by every Diamondback; the entire Arizona roster is "floating on air." Even though this team posted the most wins (90) in the National League during the regular season, it entered this series as the definite underdog. They're too young. Their offense is laughable. The Cubs have too much firepower. Naysayers had a field day picking apart the Diamondbacks before the series began. All this doubt created a nothing-to-lose scenario for Arizona. The Baby 'Backs are playing with a carefree, youthful exuberance and now they're one win away from the NLCS. Arizona's happy-go-lucky attitude is a stark contrast to Chicago's mindset.
With a healthy dose of experience and star power, the Cubs came into this postseason as a popular pick to win the pennant. Many folks believed this well-rounded group had the potential to overcome 98 years of letdowns and break the North Side's World title drought. But the beloved Cubbies are on the verge of yet another choke job. And the feeling of impending doom was on full display when Lilly gave up the three-run homer. As Young's majestic shot sailed over the fence, Lilly violently chucked his glove to the mound. Even Lou Piniella admitted Lilly's actions were pretty jarring: "I've never seen a pitcher throw the glove like that on the mound." But these are the types of emotional outbursts that accompany almost a century of disappointment. While the inexperienced Diamondbacks have nothing to lose, Chicago has everything to lose. And the Cubs seem to be playing with this in mind.
Barring an unprecedented comeback -- no National League team has ever overcome a 2-0 deficit in the divisional round —Young's homer will probably be remembered as the definitive play in this series. And Lilly's glove chuck will fit nicely next to Bartman in the next highlight (or lowlight) reel of Cubs' blunders.
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I'm sorry Gennaro,
Aren't you the same Gennaro who picked the Mets to be in the World Series just one week ago? And then you went on to predict the Yankees, Angels and Phillies to move on once the teams were set? I would have to say that your opinion on anything to do with baseball doesn't mean too much. No one cares what you think about the D-back/Cubs series. Can you please ask the SI Management to have someone with an understanding of the game to be the ones who get to write about it? I don't want to read garbage, I want to read insight. You have no clue what you're talking about and you're article makes you sound like you're a big jack*** who's praying he can get 1 out of 4 picks. There must be another vocation you might succeed in some day..this one you just come off sounding like you're nothing but a dumb prick.
Nobody has given the DBacks ANY credit yet. They came into the post season with the best record in the NL and one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball. How about giving credit where it is due? Lets all praise the DBacks for their great performance so far and stop chalking it up to the Cubs choking. Is it really that big of a surprise that the NL West champs in a much more competitive division than the lowly NL Central have a chance for a first round sweep?
I will have to agree with anonymous.. I have been reading SI and watching a lot of sports news lately, and nobody has looked at the D-Backs seriously. I have 3 mags of Football crap, when baseball is heading to playoffs..
The D-Backs do the small things right, they are IMHO the most "hustling" team out there. The slogan "Anyone Anytime" is more than just a slogan, it is the way baseball suppose to be played..
I will take the D-Backs and the heart and lack of ego.. over any team in MLB. I love a team that is about the team and about the game..
I hope they go all the way.. Go D-Backs
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