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Wolf: Copious Notes from the Dark Corners

I am undone. Never in my adult life have I contracted a type of virus like this.

This isn’t the common cold, my friends. This isn’t the type of bug you used to fight off with Mucinex, cough drops and Vicks vapor rub. This is the kind of parasite that infected Genoese traders in 1347, docking their boats in the harbor of Messina (Sicily) with dead and dying men at the oars.

In fact, I have every symptom those Genoese traders had save one: my armpits and groin aren’t swelling with black balls or buboes.

This bug is the same bug that brought Ghengis Khan to his knees; this germ drove the Huns out of the steppes and over the walls of Rome. If they ever find Bigfoot, they’ll find the source of this bug.

Swine Flu? The Andromeda Strain? How ‘bout the Sasquatch Strain!

Buboes not withstanding, the firing of Bob Melvin made me feel even worse.

A scapegoat was needed and the goat was found leaning on a dugout rail, pursing his lips as Chris Young chased strike-three in the dirt, Eric Byrnes popped out, Conor Jackson flied out, Stephen Drew iced his ham and Chad Tracy gouged his eyes out.

The goat served his purpose. Somebody was to blame for the woeful start the D-Backs were off to and, by-golly, it wasn’t going to be the players – the guys actually playing baseball. After all, this had been going on for the better part of three-seasons and scouts within the organization – whom are never wrong – say these young-guns are going to be All-Stars.

There are many ironies in this story but none bigger or better than this: Bob Melvin and his staff were in the process of developing the young-guns. Each player coming up through the organization with accolades aplenty had or has shown flashes of what they could be; and then…nothing.

Did anyone think Stephen Drew was not developing when they watched his performance last season? Did anyone grab the pitchfork and torch and storm the castle when Conor Jackson was raking last year? Even Chris Young over the last 50-games of 2008 looked like he was returning to the promise (2007) that netted him a new contract.

More recently, is Justin Upton developing? Do you see improvement with Mark Reynolds? Yes…and yes.

The frying-pan-to-the-face common denominator of all these players is simple: none of them have been consistent. They have all developed and lapsed at different times. Even their collective instances of consistency have been inconsistent.

If the young-guns are ever going to stick in this league and have the kind of careers the scouts say they will, they’re going to have to become consistent. Yet this is the very thing that separates contenders from pretenders. The hallmark of every good pro is consistency.

And these guys haven’t shown they are capable of being consistent. So, you blame the constant for the problems of the variables and their own failings. Intellectually, this makes perfect sense. Realistically, the D-Backs are admitting where the fulcrum of blame should be: they hire a manager with no managerial experience but a strong background in player development.

Doesn’t that in itself show you where the problems exist?

Whom you blame for this and what you’re willing to admit says a lot about you as a person and your own personal philosophy in life. If you wanted to fire Bob Melvin, I can understand your arguments. But make no mistake, blame the players for not being consistent.

Bob Melvin was hoping they would become more consistent – for his sake and their sake. Despite doing some great things for the organization – guiding them to the 2007 NLCS, winning Manager of the Year in the National League – BoMel knew what he was up against: promise, prognostications, predictions, pundits and potential. He could have used some production.

If you want to point the spiny, ruddy finger of blame, that’s your prerogative. But don’t blame Bob Melvin. He was the fattened calf; or in this case, the fattened goat.