As the Arizona Diamondbacks recorded the final out in the bottom of the ninth inning at Coors Field, it was more than just the end to another game in a 162-game schedule. For Diamondbacks fans it was a milestone; one that went mostly unnoticed by the majority watching the game.
The win against the Colorado Rockies in their final meeting of 2011 was the Diamondbacks 82nd victory of the season. That means that no matter what happens for the remainder of the season the Arizona Diamondbacks will have a winning record.
Baseball is an interesting sport. It lasts roughly six months and in the end many fans would be thrilled if their team won as many games as they had lost. This is especially true in places like Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, and for the past few years Arizona.
The last time the Arizona Diamondbacks finished with a winning record was 2008 and then it was just barely. After reaching the National League Championship Series in 2007 and coming just short of the World Series, the Diamondbacks began 20008 with a strong first month of the season.
Despite their success, the 2008 Diamondbacks didn’t feel like a team destined to go deep in the post season. Perhaps it was the fact that the 2007 Diamondbacks had made the playoffs despite being outscored. Many would claim it was a statistical anomaly, an argument that seemed to bear itself out during the 2008 season.
As September 2008 began I made the trek to Los Angeles to watch the Diamondbacks play a crucial series against the Dodgers. It was my first trip to famed Dodger stadium and I was looking forward to seeing the grand old ballpark and hopefully watch the Diamondbacks destroy the Dodgers in route to their second consecutive NL West title.
Instead I watched as the Dodgers destroyed the Diamondbacks in that series taking over first place from Arizona. I didn’t realize at the time but what I was watching was a train wreck that would take nearly three years to complete.
The past two years saw the Diamondbacks struggle with injuries and questionable personnel decisions that would lead to consecutive last place finishes that would cost several people their jobs including managers Bob Melvin, AJ Hinch, and General Manager Josh Byrnes.
We would see players who many thought would be lifetime Diamondbacks go by the wayside and an entire fan base go into hibernation. It was a dark episode in Arizona Diamondbacks history.
Now we find ourselves in a new place. An all-star studded coaching staff is molding a set of players into a scrappy ball club that never seems to give up despite sometimes looking out matched. Young players are beginning to mature and take on more leadership.
The future suddenly seems a lot brighter. This 2011 Diamondbacks club no longer plays the part of a statistical outlier. Instead they look to be a group of players who truly believe they are among the better teams in major league baseball.
So while the team wants you to believe they enjoy flying under the radar and playing the underdog that is far from reality. This is a team that comes along every so often that makes you want to root for them and cheer the blue-collar work ethic they display.
For the next three weeks I plan on basking in the warm glow content in the knowledge that no matter what else happens, this Diamondbacks team is a winner. Who knows, maybe they’ll get hot at the right moment and not only make the playoffs but shock some teams and finish the goal they started in 2007 – make it to the World Series.