Any last, lingering hopes that the Diamondbacks might mount a sterling comeback in the second-half of the season lasted exactly one game, as Arizona was drubbed by San Diego 12-1 in the post-break opener. Our team may be dead in the water, but there is still a race going on in the National League West. It's the closest of all the divisions, with the top four teams separated by only 5.5 games, and every indication that this one could go down to the wire. That wouldn't be a shock - there hasn't been a "blowout" in the West, with the margin of victory more than five games, since 2003, and I'd be surprised if this year broke that trend.
With little of importance left to play for down the stretch for Arizona, who, if anyone, are you rooting for to win the division? After the jump, we'll look at the five possibilities: the four other teams, and e) none of the above. There's also an extended version of the poll, asking for your opinions on all the MLB franchises, so we can find out who Diamondbacks fans love and hate most.
Disclaimer Your eyes are weary from staring at the monitor. You feel sleepy. Notice how restful it is to watch the cursor blink. Close your eyes. The opinions stated below are yours. You cannot imagine why you ever felt otherwise. For the opinions expressed in this post do, in fact, represent the opinions of SB Nation, as well as every single one of its employees, writers and readers. In fact, everybody in Phoenix also agrees. No, make that Arizona, because, let's face it, I have that kind of power at my disposal. Resistance is futile...
Pros: I know there's a lot of hate for the Hollywood glamor boys in Arizona, but I just don't feel quite the same level of disdain here for the team as a whole. I am enjoying the whole McCourt divorce proceedings thing, which is truly the kind of juicy scandal which would only happen in California. I thoroughly recommend DodgerDivorce.com, for all your needs in this area. However, they do have a lot of good young offensive players, the likes of Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw. With a couple of exceptions, the Dodgers fans I've met have generally been pleasant, and I certainly enjoy reading True Blue LA; Eric Stephen does a fine job there.
Cons: Manny Ramirez. Ramirez, M. Man-Ram. Manny being Manny. Mannywood. Manuel Aristides (Onelcida) Ramirez. Mandy. His arrogance and all-round bad attitude helped get him run out of Boston, and has hardly improved since, with a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test the "highlight" of his time in Los Angeles. Hard to say which is the worst thing about Ramirez. Watching him loaf in LF? The helmet which appears to have been buried in a swamp for thirty years? The hairstyle? Really, there are just so many reasons to loathe the man, and the prospect of him getting a World Series ring with LA makes me physically unwell.
Pros: The absence of Barry Bonds makes it a lot harder to hate the Giants, though the long-standing hatred for them was at least a bit more fun than the basic apathy I now feel towards San Francisco. I think they've got a very nice park by the water, and I am particularly impressed by the fact that it was built without the need to demand any handout from the taxpayers. Respect for that. Also, Grant at McCovey Chronicles is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the crown of the SB Nation, and can make even non-Giants fans laugh out loud. Read, for instance, his post on the Giants signing Dontrelle - how can you not love them after that?
Cons: Leading the hate parade for the Giants are Timmeh, who looks like an eleven-year old, prepared to burst into tears if anyone has the effrontery to get a hit off him. I also have no fondness for Pablo, tagged with the most god-awful nickname in the history of baseball. Then there's Buster Posey. What the hell kind of a name is "Buster" anyway - ok, if I was called "Gerald Posey", I'd probably want to change it too, just not to "Buster." You gotte earn a name like that, boy. The Giants also have their share of fans for whom polite discourse appears to consist of throwing a temper tantrum. We've seem 'em here on occasion.
Pros. A few ex-Diamondbacks here to enhance warm feelings, most notably Scott Hairston. He was the subject of the infamous DBBP "Free Scott Hairston" campaign a couple of years ago - I still have the T-shirt somewhere. This kinda worked. It was supposed to get him more playing time, but he ended up being traded to San Diego. Twice. Sorry, Scott. Our bad. I still feel guilty about that, so am happy to see him getting regular playing time with the Padres. Lob in Jon Garland and David 'Scrappy' Eckstein, and the place begins to feel like Chase Field West.
Cons. On the staff, Everth Cabrera earned a lot of negative points this afternoon. Safe to say we still dislike some of the Gaslamp Ball residents, given the long and colorful - shall we say - history between them and the 'Pit. A particular highlight was probably the blanket ban imposed by GLB on any Arizona fan they spotted posting there, but there was also the whole "decapitated unicorn" thing, which had its moments. This seems to have cooled off of late, probably because we're too depressed to get into any fights this season, but I must confess, GLB remains the site I check least of our rivals. So I can't really say whether it's still all about exchanging MySpace profiles or whatever.
Pros. The Rockies are "most like" the Diamondbacks in a number of ways. A mid-market team, reliant more on young players than expensive free agents, and without any real history to speak of, who don't get the respect from the mainstream media they deserve, regardless of their performance. In some aspects, Purple Row is also perhaps the most 'Pit-like of the other sites, with a significantly sabermetric sensitivity, but a palpable sense of "community" that feels familiar. Coors is my favorite of all the NL West park, both for its setting and its location in a vibrant downtown. Phoenix can only dream of that, for now.
Cons. Dinger. What? You need more? Back in March, Jeff Aberle wrote, "I am guaranteeing a NL West crown for the Rockies this year." Such arrogant hubris deserves to be punished by the baseball gods, and I certainly would enjoy rubbing that remark in their faces at the season end. Speak of arrogant hubris, there's also Troyboy, a.k.a. Troy Mileywitzki, for whom a lot of Arizona fans harbor disdain, dating back to at least his pronouncements during the 2007 NLCS that Justin Upton stared at Jeff Francis "too long" and saying J-Up "should be happy getting that base." Whatever trials fate may have in store for Tool-o, will likely be welcomed by many in this part of the world.
NONE OF THE ABOVE
Pros. We are Diamondbacks fans, after all, and so rooting for another team in the division - even if they aren't playing us - somehow seems a bit treacherous. Certainly, we heap scorn here, and rightfully so, on "fairweather fans," who only support their team when it's winning; shifting even a fraction of your loyalties somewhere else smacks of that kind of thing. It's now, when the team is down, that they actually need support more than ever, and there's still plenty of reasons to stay interested in the Diamondbacks down the stretch, as they build for the 2011 season and beyond.
Cons. Well, someone has got to win this fricking thing, and it certainly isn't going to be the Diamondbacks. With seventy-odd games to go until the end of the season, you're going to need something to keep your interest going. Much though fantasy baseball works on an individual player level, baseball is a team sport, and even if you may not want any particular team to win more, there are no doubt teams that you want to win less than others. A team gets the loyalty from its fans it deserves, and as we crawl our way towards 100 losses, it hardly counts as cheating on the D-backs to turn your gaze elsewhere for a bit, and appreciate good baseball
But I'm curious to see what Arizona fans think of all the teams in baseball, not just the NL West. Somewhat inspired by GLB's take on the topic, below is a poll which should take about two minutes to fill in - you just have to click on the scale for your opinion of each team, with the left being good things, and the right being the bad. The default answer is the middle, so you can just leave it there, and only click elsewhere for teams you have an opinion about. You've got a week to respond, and I'll publish the results next Sunday.