One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

There are times it can be almost maddening to be an Arizona Diamondbacks fan especially over the last year. After the success of the 2007 season where the young Diamondbacks made it all the way to the National League Championship Series expectations have been very high for this team. They have been lauded as a young core of players with an extremely high talent ceiling. The 2008 season began similarly to how 2007 ended; the Diamondbacks came streaking out of the gate to a 20-8 record in April and it looked as though they would glide into the post season and take that next step to get into the World Series. After that first month of the season teams began making adjustments to the Diamondbacks and Arizona’s aggressive hitters did not make the proper adjustments themselves and suddenly the team became very inconsistent.

Besides the constant adjusting; Arizona also suffered some devastating injuries to key players from the 2007 campaign. Eric Byrnes who had a career year in 2007 was suddenly on the disabled list for the remainder of the year and when clubhouse leader and second baseman Orlando Hudson went down with a wrist injury it was the final nail in the coffin that was a disastrous 2008 season.

In the past off-season everyone was hoping the Diamondbacks would address some of the 2008 team’s shortcomings that being consistent hitting and better bullpen help. Instead team representatives reiterated that the pieces were in place and that change was not necessarily what was needed was a little more experience and maturity and that the young core of Diamondbacks were on the cusp of breaking out. As an eternal optimist (hey, I am a recovering Cubs fan so I know a lot about eternal optimism), I bought into the message being delivered and eagerly waited to see the Diamondbacks hitters take that next step and go on a tear that would make the April 2008 season look like a slump.

This of course didn’t happen. Instead the Diamondbacks got off to a very sluggish start and lost the first four series and has still not been able to string together more than two wins in a row. The much anticipated surge in offense instead is stalled in neutral and leading to a lot of frustration in the stands and in the clubhouse. While the pitching staff has not publicly come out and complained about the lack of offense this season it is clear from their body language and their actions that frustration is starting to set in. After a horrendous April the Diamondbacks left on their first extended road trip and we were again told that the change of scenery would be beneficial and that the team slump had hit rock bottom. The first game the series looked very similar to most of the games we saw in April. The Diamondbacks got great starting pitching but could not come up with the offense necessary to score any runs. When the calendar rolled over to May the Diamondbacks manufactured runs and gave a glimpse of what happens when breaks go your way. Saturday’s game was likewise a breath of fresh air when the Diamondbacks were able to piece together some offense to win their second game in a row. It was the first time since 2003 that Arizona had won consecutive games in Milwaukee. Finally maybe things were about to take off and the Diamondbacks would go on an extended winning streak.

These are the kinds of thoughts that have gone through Diamondbacks fans’ minds for the better part of a year. And just when we think this is the time when things will start to click; the Diamondbacks will find a way to kick themselves back into the dirt. In the case of today Yusmeiro Petit gave up 2 solo home runs and found himself behind 3-0. The Diamondbacks came back to tie the game with 3 home runs in the seventh inning and again we got our hopes up only to see the offense shut itself down and the bullpen give up another run and before we knew it the game was over and another loss in the standings was recorded. It’s like every time this team takes a step forward it follows that up with 2 steps backwards.

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