CHICAGO, IL - JULY 14: .Chris Young #24 of Arizona Diamondbacks fields at a ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 14, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis /Getty Images)
No one likes summer. We invent vacations, and games, and other distractions of the leisure class to make it through. We structure our education so the little hellions won't be stuck inside torturing a poorly paid teacher. Regardless of your location, you complain about summer. You argue about whether Phoenix's gaudy temperatures are better or worse than the East's humidity. But we all wait for another season, hoping that it'll be better.
This season with the Diamondbacks we wait with each turning of the month, with each new series, that the Diamondbacks will be better. We hope that they'll remember how to play like the team that won a division last year. But eventually you run out of series, and pages on the calendar. And then what are you left with?
The team is 6.5 games back in the middle of July. They're not coming back.
To put that in perspective, no Diamondbacks team has been this far back at this point, or any further point, in a season and still been able to make the playoffs. Even worse is that this 2012 squad has never been in first place after that first week. They haven't even been in 2nd since the beginning of May. At least with the other playoff teams with the Diamondbacks have had time at first before they made the final push in August and September. This current team has no experience there, and doesn't appear to be pulling any closer.
Sure, the trade deadline is only 2 weeks away, and maybe the team will pull off some blockbuster trade that will make everything right. More likely, though, the team will not make a move, or make a small move, or if they do make a big move it'll be the wrong one. Taking Justin Upton out of the lineup, and for what, is a recipe for disappointment unless the pieces coming back are already polished and significant.
The D-backs might wake up and starting playing the ball we know they're capable of playing. It will take more than just "waking up," though, to win the division. Assuming that the Giants are able to keep their modest pace, they'll finish the year with about 89 wins. To get to 90 wins, the Diamondbacks need to win 47 more games, more than what they already possess. And with 73 games remaining for Arizona, that would require winning at a .645 clip. That's doable over a month, but not 2 1/2 months.
Of course, the Giants could break down and the Diamondbacks might not need 90 wins. The problem with this fantasy is that 90 wins is still a pretty tepid amount for a division win, so we need to imagine a scenario where our team, and its rivals, don't even reach it.
So what do we do now? I'm sure for some the time to check out was weeks, if not months, ago. We can start looking toward next year, and wonder what went wrong. The other extreme is to hang on the slowly eroding cliff. Or we can wax poetically about the joys of baseball regardless of outcome, and how if we just move our window of expectation then everything wouldn't be so bad.
I want to subscribe to that last point, but I can't. I love baseball, I'll watch a whole day's of game and then MLB Tonight and then wake up and watch Quick Pitch in the morning. But I've been bitten. I told myself not to commit myself, that a lot of last year was luck, but my heart wouldn't listen. And this team should be better, dammit. But it's not.
Maybe it'll fade to numbness by September.