Fans of the Diamondbacks haven’t had much to cheer for the past couple years. Two years in the cellar, with regime upheavals and the dismissal of popular players. But the Diamondbacks are back on top after nearly 1000 days in the wilderness.
But it’s not the end. Three long months remain in a season that could bury the Diamondbacks with all the other teams that peaked too early.
Two days ago, when the Diamondbacks charged to the top of the NL West on yet another comeback victory, all of the fans of Arizona’s team were filled with hope. We know the score; this whole thing could come crashing down around our ears. We should know better. Who can forget the wonderful April of 2008, or the Baby ‘Backs of 2003 who rattled off a 12 game winning streak, only to fade in August with a peak of 2nd place.
Will the Diamondbacks be the 1974 Philadelphia Phillies, a team that was at the bottom the previous year and found itself in first for most of the season? Don't get your hopes up; that team last held first on August 2nd, and eventually dropped down to 3rd place. Or will they be like the 1990 White Sox, who went from worst to first, if only for a brief few games in July. They spent the vast majority of the season sitting behind the Oakland A's.
Nearly as soon as the Diamondbacks took first on Sunday, there was a counter-reaction attempting to temper expectations. This is an analytical blog, this is natural. Diamondbacks fan, new or long-time, have reasons to not believe this team is completely for real. It's the darkness moving just beyond your peripherals, but you can't stand to look at it directly.
It would be better to stay in the light. Enjoy this moment, because we have no idea what the future will bring.
We’re fans, we were meant to get carried away. It’s a natural reaction to feel happy when your team does exceptionally well. The fan feels better about itself when the objection of affection wins. There are those that are probably snickering in the shadows at the Diamondbacks fans right now, but they would feel the same way if given the same situation.
"Being a fan has a self-esteem benefit," says Ed Hirt, a professor at University of Indiana who studies sports psychology. A team’s performance has effects on a fan’s self-esteem in both positive and negative directions. If a team performs well, then the fan feels better about itself, and about its place within the collective fandom.
So it’s natural Arizona fans would celebrate after what has been a grueling time. It isn’t the end game, but no one is pretending the end of May is the end. The team can’t streak forever, and some point in the summer they will hit a brick wall. Will they falter, and be overcome by the wolves at the door? Or will they be able withstand the pressure?
It’s only May 31st. Be careful, the game is designed to break your heart.