Brownie Points: Fall not shaping up to be a blast in AZ - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Fall not shaping up to be a blast in AZ

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at jbrown5548@aol.com

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012 5:30 pm

Enjoy that Rattlers championship. Revel in Diana Taurasi’s gold medal and the fact that temperatures will plunge into the mid-90s, Arizona sports fans.

It’s shaping up to be a mighty bleak fall around here. Trying to find a silver lining in the near future is challenging at best.

Consider:

The Diamondbacks: They’re still a contender and their farm system is stocked with the kind of talent that bodes well for the future. But even with San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera suspended for the stretch run, even with the Dodgers inconsistencies and plenty of games within the division in September, this just doesn’t feel like Arizona’s year.

Optimists will see the back-to-back, ninth-inning homers by Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young Thursday night in St. Louis as just the kind of springboard the team needed for the final six weeks of the season. Fans have to hope so.

But this has been a .500 team for five months — because that’s exactly what it is. With two teams to climb over in the West and four with a five-game bulge in the two-survivor wild card race, that’s tough sledding. This team doesn’t have two things the 2011 team relied on: a consistent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation and (2) the good fortune that saw the rest of the West implode on its own.

There is tinkering that needs to be done in Arizona, with logjams in the infield and outfield and a lineup that needs to shave down its strikeouts moving forward. The good news? Arizona GM Kevin Towers has shown a deft touch in these areas.

The Cardinals: Can we all see where this is headEnjoy that Rattlers championship. Revel in Diana Taurasi’s gold medal and the fact that temperatures will plunge into the mid-90s, Arizona sports fans.

It’s shaping up to be a mighty bleak fall around here. Trying to find a silver lining in the near future is challenging at best.

Consider:

The Diamondbacks: They’re still a contender and their farm system is stocked with the kind of talent that bodes well for the future. But even with San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera suspended for the stretch run, even with the Dodgers inconsistencies and plenty of games within the division in September, this just doesn’t feel like Arizona’s year.

Optimists will see the back-to-back, ninth-inning homers by Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young Thursday night in St. Louis as just the kind of springboard the team needed for the final six weeks of the season. Fans have to hope so.

But this has been a .500 team for five months — because that’s exactly what it is. With two teams to climb over in the West and four with a five-game bulge in the two-survivor wild card race, that’s tough sledding. This team doesn’t have two things the 2011 team relied on: a consistent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation and (2) the good fortune that saw the rest of the West implode on its own.

There is tinkering that needs to be done in Arizona, with logjams in the infield and outfield and a lineup that needs to shave down its strikeouts moving forward. The good news? Arizona GM Kevin Towers has shown a deft touch in these areas.

The Cardinals: Can we all see where this is head ed? Larry Fitzgerald’s dad is tweeting again. Preseason games are a fire drill. The Kevin Kolb/John Skelton quarterback situation is such an unadulterated mess, the media is quizzing Ken Whisenhunt about guys like Ryan Lindley.

Grasping at straws in August? Max Hall references? That’s never good.

Everything in life is just better when your city’s NFL team is good. Food tastes better. Birds sing sweeter. But to be good in 2012, you need a quarterback. There’s no way around it. Ask the Jets. Watch “Hard Knocks” on HBO and look at the faces of the Miami Dolphins’ coaches. Ryan Tannehill is the future, but they know what’s coming this year, and unless lightning strikes very soon, that’s what Arizona is looking at. Again.

Arizona State football: Whoever says they know what to expect from ASU football this season ... you really don’t. There is talent to be sure, especially at skill positions on offense (though youth at that pesky quarterback position) but there are many unproven players and team depth — always the big factor in college football — is a huge question.

New coach Todd Graham isn’t going to be boring and his offensive concepts fit right in with the elite programs in the conference. But to ask the Sun Devils to carry the flag this fall? They could win eight games and they could lose eight games. The safe bet is six of each.

The Suns: I remember the days when the acquisitions of Luis Scola and Jermaine O’Neal would have been cause for back flips in Phoenix. But that’s because I’m really old and can remember them — and the Suns — in their prime.

I’m not knocking Lon Babby and Lance Blanks. O’Neal is going to cost next-to-nothing in NBA dollars and won’t do any harm. The rebuilding process has to start somewhere, and the Lakers are once again laughing at the luxury tax and stockpiling All-Stars. The roster is more balanced, minus any truly awful contracts, and is somewhat interesting. But we’re about to find out how much Steve Nash was holding this baby together.

If there is to be pain, let it be now. If you are going to hang your hat on Michael Beasley, let it be now.

With draft picks and caps space to work with moving forward, marked progress has to come soon, but if the Diamondbacks don’t catch fire and the Cardinals and Sun Devils flame out, don’t count on Planet Orange to save day.

The Coyotes: Hey now, here’s some hope! The Coyotes are coming off their first trip to the conference finals. It appears they will have a new owner (Greg Jamison) and the same captain (Shane Doan) — I know this because the Canadian media has all but ceased chasing down rumors to the contrary — and they have Mike Smith in net, Dave Tippett behind the bench and much the same cast that has made three straight playoff appearances.

But the NHL probably won’t play a game before Christmas. Nevermind.

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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