(photo by Matt York/AP)
"All the number crunchers out there, sometimes you can’t measure a team’s heart, and this team seems to have a whole lot of it."
They don’t have a lot of post-season experience. Heck, most of them don’t have a lot of major league experience at all. They lost their future Hall of Fame pitcher early on, his back quitting on him for the third time in his storied career. Their third baseman, the guy they signed to a four-year contract extension just last season, was injured most of the year, and was shut down for knee surgery in September. Their All-Star, Gold Glove second baseman had an unfortunate slide into third base and also went under the knife in September, right when the team needed him most, to re-attach a thumb tendon that had torn away from the bone. OUCH! They don’t have a .300 hitter; they don’t have a 20-game winner. All they have is the best record in the National League, and their hands around the throats of the Chicago Cubs. Time to try on some finger necklaces two sizes too small, Cubbies. Goats rule and 100 is a nice round number.
Oh yes, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have one more thing: Call it heart, or will to win, or c.o.j.o.n.e.s or anything else that tells the world that there’s more to baseball than sabermetrics. Or big payroll. Or more championship rings than you could wear on your fingers AND toes. They have IT. And while I don’t know how much farther IT will take them, I do know that IT has taken them pretty far this season, farther than any of the so-called experts imagined.
IT is a sense of team that makes "Anybody, Anytime" more than just a catchy slogan to print on T-Shirts given to fans. IT is an uncanny sense of timing that more often than not, to the tune of a 90-72 record, gets them the hits they need to drive in the runs they need to win. IT is a belief that they can do anything and can’t be kept down for long. IT is a "never say die" attitude that explains why we’re still talking about them on Oct. 5 and the Mets are on the golf course. IT allows a couple of guys from Double A and a guy who’s made most of his career in the minors to be called up out of emergency and fit right in at the major league level. IT does the same for a waiver claim who looks like he’s played the outfield at Chase for years. And IT allows a guy to emerge as a leader on a pennant contender, who two years ago was bounced around more than a beach ball in the Dodger Stadium bleachers, then discarded by a team on its way to oblivion.
Yet, in this first round of the playoffs, the Diamondbacks seem to be ignored. They don’t have the same star power of Boston or New York, or even Los Angeles…or Anaheim…or wherever the heck that team is from. They don’t have the major leagues’ longest record of post-season futility like Chicago. Or a basketball star who shows up to the game wearing the opposition’s colors, like Cleveland. They didn’t have to take the race down to the last day, like Philadelphia, or beyond, like Colorado. So they’ve fallen through the cracks of national notice.
It’s about time the Arizona Diamondbacks got the recog–No–No, scrap that. Everybody keep on ignoring or underestimating them. Everybody keep doing what you’re doing, especially the Cubs. Nothing to see here; move along.
Darned if those Rockies aren’t lingering. They recognize IT. They have IT themselves. Deal with them later.