Barry moved to Phoenix in 1979 and has never left. After graduating from Chaparral High School, Barry went on to ASU where he received both undergraduate and law degrees.
Barry is a partner in the Phoenix law firm Thomas, Thomas and Markson, where his practice focuses on civil and commercial litigation. In addition to his legal and radio work, Barry also serves on the board of directors for both charitable and legal organizations.
Barry is married and has two young sons. He enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his kids' baseball teams and playing and watching sports.
Chris Lewis has been the co-host of the Fantasy Forum for 19 years. He likes to say he started when he was 12, but we know better.
Originally born in NY (Long Island), Chris has been in the Phoenix metro area for 22 years and is an Arizona State Sun Devil alum. While he still roots for his hometown teams, the local squads have gained his loyalty over the years, and he has been a D-Backs season ticket holder since day 1 (and has remained so despite having to see Bauer every game).
GO SEE THE SUN DEVILS. TONIGHT. 9PM. WELLS FARGO ARENA
OK, there are a few things you should know about me before you read this blog entry.
1. I am not an un-biased reporter. I understand the need for objectivity in sports writing, and if something is bad and I don't like it, I will tell you so. But I am going to root for my teams...publicly, openly, in writing and on the radio. So you don't need to remind me that I'm a "homer." I know.
2. I would like to tell you that I will blog more often. But as you probably know, this is a part time job for me. I'm on the radio two hours a week. No one pays me to blog. So...when I actually DO write in this space, it is most likely something I am passionate about, and feel that getting my thoughts out in 140 character sound bytes on Twitter (@chrislewisxtra) isn't enough. Sometimes stuff gets in my head and stays there. This is a Forum for me to get it out.
3. I am an Arizona State alum. An Arizona State fan. It's all I can do to NOT scream out in the press box when they make a great play. And there is a possibility that when Jahii Carson went coast to coast for his dunk on Wednesday night, I may have let out an abbreviated shout of joy. Sorry. It happens. If you can't stand the Devils, I'm probably not your first follow on Twitter (@chrislewisxtra).
4. And since we are in full disclosure mode: I went to college at Carnegie Mellon University (though I finished my degree at ASU), and I was there at the same time as Herb Sendek. I was roommates with the other shooting guard on the basketball team, John Taormina (JT actually started ahead of Herb). I did not know Herb in college, and I didn't start calling games on the student radio station until after he had left. But I am a fan of the Coach, and the CMU ties probably help that along a bit.
OK. That's the preliminary thoughts before sharing my actual thoughts today. And here they are.
GO SEE THE SUN DEVILS. TONIGHT. 9PM.
Here's the deal. I understand the economy and that some folks are struggling. If you are one of those struggling, I do not want to tell you what to do with your money. I hope things look up for you soon, and I hope you can watch the game on ESPNU tonight.
But for the rest of you that can afford it, GET TO THE GAME. I understand the main argument for staying home...this from the recent past:
"The Devils are boring. They play so slowly, it's hard to watch."
OK, fine, clearly you haven't watched this year's team. Jahii Carson does nothing slowly. This Devils team scored NINETY TWO points against Washington (who they play tonight), which is hard to do in a 40 minute game. They run every chance they get, and they play pretty good defense, so they get to run a lot.
But there are so many reasons to GO SEE THIS TEAM.
Those are all great reasons to go to the game tonight (9PM WELLS FARGO ARENA). But here is the most important one:
Tonight is senior night, and the Sun Devils will honor Ruslan Pateev, Chris Colvin and Mr. Felix. Let me give you a little background here.
Carrick Felix averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds a game last year. This year, he is averaging 14 and 8. If he doesn't win most improved player in the conference, there should be an investigation. He's been player-of-the-week 3 times, and with another double-double tonight a 4th win might be in order. And he should also win defensive player of the year, guarding everyone from shooting guards to centers and shutting them down.
All that is great. But that is still not why you should come and honor him tonight.
Remember last off-season? ASU had won 10 games. Prized recruit Keala King had been removed from the team. Kyle Cain left. Undisputed team leader and best player Trent Lockett was leaving the program to be closer to his ailing mom at Marquette. Even the assistant coaches were bailing...one for Washington, one for Penn. We were losing coaches to the IVY LEAGUE.
This team was picked to finish 11th.
Lockett was gone, leaving a HUGE leadership void. The best player on the team would be a freshman, but could he also be the leader? Well, he wouldn't have to.
The best thing that happened in the offseason? Carrick Felix grew up. His first child was born. He figured out that this was now his team. And he stepped into the leadership void and surpassed the success of Lockett in that role.
He texts teammates reminders of their goals. He makes sure that the team doesn't splinter into the mess of the last two seasons. He leads in effort on the court and in passion off the court. When the team has had tough losses, he has led them to bounce back wins. He followed his worst game of the season (Arizona) with three straight double-doubles, 3 wins and a player of the week award.
When you meet him, and get to talk to him for even a minute, you want to spend more time around him. His leadership has been inclusive, not "it's my team, give me the ball." He wants success for his whole squad. When talking about senior night, he spoke of Pateev and Colvin, but also included Joey Hormes, a senior who has played exactly one minute this season.
Carrick Felix is exactly the kind of guy you want to root for. And this is his senior night. The last home game of his career (hopefully they will not be hosting an NIT game this year).
SO SHOW UP. TONIGHT. 9PM. WELLS FARGO.
Honor Carrick Felix. Have fun watching Jahii Carson. Cheer this team as they try and stay on the bracket for the NCAA tourney. Be LOUD (unlike the students the other night with their "silent until 13 points" plan. Dumbest ploy EVER).
What, 9pm is too late? Please. It's Saturday night. I have a 6:30 am meeting for Church tomorrow. You'll get more sleep than I will, so get over it. It's the last game of the season, you can sleep in April.
Thanks for reading. And for listening. We're broadcasting live from Grand Canyon University on Tuesday night; hope you can tune in. Follow me on Twitter @chrislewisxtra. You can follow my partner too, @barrymarkson1. And you can hear our show, the Forum, Tuesday nights from 6-8p.
Those of you that follow me on Twitter (@chrislewisxtra) clearly felt yesterday my initial reaction to the Justin Upton trade. I was angry. I believe I used the word stupid. After a day to think about it, I wanted to post something longer than 140 characters to explain my thoughts a little better. And then I remembered I have a BLOG! So here you go...(and for those of you who just want to hear my happy thoughts on this year's team...scroll down a while. Hopefully you'll just read the whole thing.)
I am still not a fan of the trade. Has Justin Upton been inconsistent? Yes. Do I enjoy his tirades when he strikes out, or his slow, steaming walks to RF when he is angry? No. But when he was good, he was REALLY good. And in the back of my mind, I can't help but think about the story of Matt Kemp.
In his age 24 season, Kemp hit 26 HR, knocked in 101 and stole 34 bases, with a .297/.352/.490 slash line (BA, OBP, Slug). He finished 10th in the MVP voting, won the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger. His team won the division.
In Upton's age 23 season, he had 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB with a .289/.369/.529 slash line. He finished 4th in the MVP voting, won the Silver Slugger award and the Fielding Bible named him the best RF in the NL (hey, it's called a Bible, it must be right). His team won the division.
In Kemp's age 25 season, his numbers sank to 28/89/19 with a .249/.310/.450 slash line. He was criticized for lackluster effort, Manager Joe Torre benched him, and GM Ned Coletti called him out publicly for poor performance on defense. Even his love life was called into question, as he had dated pop star Rihanna. His team finished 4th.
In Upton's age 24 season, his numbers sank to 17/67/18 with a .280/.355/.430 slash line. He was criticized for a lack of power and being inconsistent. Manager Kirk Gibson benched him, and Owner Ken Kendrick called him out on public radio, using the word "enigma." Of course, on this same day, Kendrick ripped Stephen Drew for not playing hurt, which was exactly what Upton, who had an injured thumb, was doing all year. The DBacks finished 3rd.
In his age 26 year, Matt Kemp EXPLODED. 39/126/40 with a crazy .324/.399/.586 stat line. Led the league with 115 runs scored. 2nd in the MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger.
In his age 25 year, Justin Upton...well, we don't know. It hasn't happened yet. But Upton is one of just 9 players in the past 40 years to have a slugging percentage of .520 or higher twice by his age 23 season. Here are the 9 (and thanks to MLB-TV's Clubhouse Confidential for this): Cedeno, Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez, A-Rod, Pujols, Cabrera, Wright, Longoria and Upton. Cedeno might not have lived up to his enormous potential But the rest of that list? Ridiculous. A-Rod was a free agent and switched teams before his age 25 year. Cabrera was salary dumped by the Marlins of course. No one else on that list moved until they were 30.
So trading Upton isn't just a risk. It's a HUGE risk. Do I know for sure that he will become a superstar? Nope. No one does. But considering the DBacks are not saving payroll in this trade, it is an unprecedented move to move a player this young and this good...especially while you have him under contract for three more years at a reasonable (for MLB standards) rate.
Kevin Towers says great things about Upton's work ethic. Kirk Gibson says he has never had a problem with Justin and understands the pressures he was under as the face of the franchise. And yet the team spent the better part of 2 years taking offers for him. So clearly there is SOMETHING the team isn't saying, which is expected, because you wouldn't throw the guy under the bus on his way out the door. But wth everything I just mentioned, if he was great in the clubhouse and had a great rapport with the organization...if those things were true, the answer would have always been "no.'
When former DBack GM Josh Byrnes was asked about trading his best player (Chase Headley) this off-season, he said "we're not trading him (paraphrasing)." When Mr. Towers was asked about Upton, he said "I always listen on everybody." Which is a fine stance to take as GM of a franchise. But the correct answer is "no." And then listen to offers anyway. Don't tell the entire world that you are taking offers on your best player. For two straight years. To the point that everyone knows you have to trade him, so the package won't be nearly as good.
AND I'm not enamored with the prospects they received. Look, I'm not a scout. I'm a sales rep for a major record company and a part time radio talk show host. I've never seen these guys play (other than Delgado). So I have to go to the people I read all the time to gather their opinions on these guys. Jim Callis of Baseball America, who follows the minor leagues like few others, says "wow, I really like the Braves deal for Upton. I think you win with stars and the DBacks will regret trading Upton and Bauer (don't get me started on Bauer)." Keith Law of ESPN calls Delgado a "5th starter" and says the others are "two fringy prospects and one non-prospect." Another writer (who's name escapes me, my apologies) graded the prospects from B- to C.
Are these guys always right? NO. Did they like Paul Goldschmidt as a prospect? No. Josh Collmenter? Please. Do they know more than DBacks scouts? I have no idea. I couldn't name a DBacks scout.
But I know this: if you have elite talent, you should try and keep it. If there is a problem with internal relationships? FIX THE RELATIONSHIPS, don't jettison the player. Was Manny Ramirez well liked? No. Did the Red Sox win 2 World Series because he can RAKE? Yep. I guarantee you no one in the clubhouse liked Reggie Jackson, least of all his manager. But they loved him in October. And I understand that Upton isn't as good as either of those guys. Yet. But he might get there. And if he does...then this is a horrible trade.
OK. Just one more note regarding Upton. I had some people tell me they didn't like him because he didn't hit the cutoff man. Really? Who does? I can tell you Gerardo Parra doesn't even SEE the cutoff man...he wants to show off his arm EVERY time he has the ball.
Now...as far as what the team looks like now...
Martin Prado is a terrific player. Some people in Atlanta hate this trade because they really love Prado and wanted him to be the one to take Chipper's place at third. He doesn't strikeout like many others in the lineup, and I love that he finally increased his walks last year (34-58). He doesn't hit for a ton of power, though Chase Field may help those totals. As KT says, he "keeps the line moving." He was 10th in the league in WAR (wins above replacement) and has been an all-star, and he will play a position of scarce talent (3B) where the DBacks will have an advantage almost every night.
I really like this year's lineup. Mostly because I think Adam Eaton is going to bring energy, excitement, baseball IQ, and some really terrific TALENT to the leadoff spot. I think he'll be the best leadoff hitter in DBacks history. With a top 3 hitters (if I'm making the lineup) of Eaton/Hill/Prado, there should be plenty of opportunities for Kubel/Goldie/Miggy/Ross to drive in runs. I think Eaton and Kubel are the keys. DBacks need first half Kubel for most of the season. I also think if Parra plays a lot it is bad for the offense. I'm not a big fan (great defender in LF, but that is not a premium position for defense and he doesn't hit enough to be a corner OF). Then again, Cody Ross platoon splits are so drastic that Parra should probably play against RH hitters.
Will the team contend this year? I think that is up to Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley. They have to be excellent. Maybe not Matt Cain/Clayton Kershaw/Zack Greinke excellent, but they need to pitch like aces, not like the .500 pitchers IPK and Cahill were last year (Jarrod Parker? Again, don't get me started). The bullpen will be really good. And don't forget that Daniel Hudson will be back sometime to add to the rotation this year.
And if they don't contend? Watch out for the fire sale. Hill, Kubel and Prado (for now) are all in the last year of their contract.
So, to wrap this up (since it is 2am)... I don't like trading HIGH END TALENT (Upton, Bauer, Parker) unless I am getting high end talent back. I don't like trading high end talent to get guys who fit better in the clubhouse. Really, i just don't like trading high end talent for anything. And I don't like giving journeymen like Cody Ross an Eric Byrnes level contract.
But I do like the team this year. I think they can hit, run, pitch, and they should be good defensively. I will, despite my anger yesterday, remain in my seats in section 320, row 2. My seats that I pay for (no press pass for me). I want the team to win the division, and I want to see more banners hanging in the outfield. I think the lineup is better than the Giants, and I think the depth is better than the Dodgers. And I think Derrick Hall is the best Team President in all of MLB. He interacts with the fans, gives us a great experience at the game (though not AS great sitting upstairs where I am), he even answers emails during games! .I won't give up the seats I've had since day one of the franchise. And no, I'm not kissing up to Mr. Hall so he finally starts following me on Twitter
But if Justin Upton has a Matt Kemp like explosion this year and is that player going forward...which history and numbers tell us is a very good possibility...then no matter what the DBacks got in return, this will still be a terrible trade that will taint the legacy of Mr. Towers forever.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that Didi Gregorius actually becomes Derek Jeter. I hope Randall Delgado blossoms into a healthy Brandon Webb. And I know that you cannot judge a trade on the day it is made, though we all do. Tell me what the prospects (and Upton) have done 5 years from now. Do you think that Gasol trade looked bad for Memphis a few years ago? Think it looks better now? Think anyone would trade Marc Gasol for his brother NOW? No chance. And maybe this will be equal to the haul that Texas got from Atlanta for Mark Teixeira...a trade no one liked at the time that ended up getting the Rangers Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and more. That would be great. Nothing I have read from the "experts" tells me that will be the case.
After a day of perspective, I still don't like the trade. I hope I am wrong in September. I hope I am even more wrong 5 years from now.
Listen to the Forum Tuesday nights from 6-8 EVERY WEEK...we're still on after football is over! And follow us on Twitter @chrislewisxtra and @barrymarkson1