As Sam Sees It<br>

The Arizona Cardinals finally broke into the win column in Tempe a little over a week ago when they ran away from the New Orleans Saints 34-10.

The team had played respectably in its first two losses under Dennis Green and the defense was outstanding in the 6-3 defeat at Atlanta.

The NFL preaches parity and, at times, looks to be delivering just that. Unfortunately, Arizona has been one of the few franchises that has not had its day in the sun. A 1-3 start that should have been better is not something to build hopes for a Super Bowl in the near future.

For now, most fans will probably settle for parity if that means a real shot in at the playoffs and much closer than bye and bye.

It would be nice to have a title contender move into the new stadium in Glendale. That should be the goal of the management, coaching staff, team and fans.

One thing Phoenix fans need to realize and learn to live with is that there are always going to be fans wearing the visiting teams’ colors and loudly cheering for their favorites.

Phoenix is not the “home town” to many of the people who live there and Arizona is still a state populated largely by immigrants from elsewhere.

Someone once said that you would never see that at a Diamondbacks’ game. One wonders if they ever were in Bank One Ballpark when the Chicago Cubs were the opposition. Arizonans need to accept the fact that many attend to root for the teams of their youth and be glad they come at all.

The baseball playoffs are under way and there are quite a few former Diamondbacks playing key roles for the teams that made post season play. Tony Womack, a man who contributed mightily to the Arizona World Series Championship, is leading off and playing second base for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Womack keyed the Diamondbacks’ victory over the Cardinals in 2001 and got the most important, game-tying double off the “unbeatable” Yankee closer that set up Luis Gonzalez’s game-winner.

Curt Schilling is the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff and their best hope to break the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Schilling and Randy Johnson gave the Diamondbacks the most feared one-two pitching punch in baseball in 2001 and 2002.

Johnson won the Cy Young Award, but Schilling would have gotten my vote. He was the best “big game” pitcher in the game then and probably still is today.

Steve Finley went to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trading dead line and led the team to the National League Western Division pennant.

He was the best all around player on the Diamondbacks before the trade. Without Finley, the Dodgers would never have won the National League Western Division.

Luis Gonzalez is doing duty in the broadcast booth and can add insight into how the game is being played. He has already been heard singing the praises of Finley and Womack.

That threesome enjoyed the best sports have to offer. It was my pleasure to be there in 2001 to watch them do it.

By the time this column is in print, the first rounds of the playoffs will be history. Our friends from the great 2001 season may have been eliminated by then. For sure, either Womack’s Cardinals or Finley’s Dodgers will be gone.

Sunday, Oct. 3, was both a relief and a sad day at Bank One Ballpark. The players who brought Arizona a World Championship were mostly toiling elsewhere.

The team was less than a shadow of itself.

The owner and catalyst for baseball in Arizona at all, Jerry Colangelo was honored during the closing ceremonies, but the team was no longer his.

He will be missed and, no matter how much is said or written, never properly appreciated. We were in the presence of greatness and probably aware of it only dimly, if at all. Thanks, Jerry, for all you did. You left your mark and a legacy that will last forever.

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