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SnakePit Round Table: Arizona Wins The NL West [Emotional Response]

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I think that sums the emotional response up nicely. But, if you want a little more depth on how this year made Arizona fans feel, the Round Tablers were asked this very question, as well as about the highs and lows of the season. how this compares to our last division title in 2007, and what plans are being made for the post-season.

On May 16, the D-backs were 17-23 and in last place. When did you start to think they might still be in the race?

Kishi: Think they might be in the race? Late June, early July-ish. Think they actually were in the race? Maybe around the end of July.

Sprankton: As soon as Melvin Mora was DFA’d, I knew it was meant to be. [Actually] After the team came surging out of the All-Star break is when I truly felt that the they might accomplish something special.

Jim: The surge immediately afterward, where they went 13-1 and vaulted from last to first was probably the first time I thought they could play with the West big boys. That spell also included the Giants losing Buster Posey; the resulting panic among their fans certainly removed the aura of invincibility from San Francisco in my eyes. And when the Rockies traded Jimenez away, that was their white flag.

snakecharmer: I was hopeful about them not being in last place after that nice showing in May, but I didn’t think we’d stay in first place for very long. June is when San Francisco started to falter and we stayed within shouting distance, but even at the ASG when we were three back and had just lost two games to freaking Oakland, I was still expecting second place. I became hopeful that we could win the division in early August we took 2 of 3 from San Francisco in San Francisco against Lincecum and Cain. That’s when I realized this team could go all the way.

emily: RIGHT NOW. But, really, that series when we took 2 of 3 from San Francisco from Lincecum and Cain. That was the moment when I had a moment of thinking the team was absolutely for real.

soco: Ask me tomorrow.  I’ll never know.

CaptainCanuck: Probably around after that time when they had gone on to win 13 of 14 to sit atop the division. But of course, being me, I didn't actually think that was legit, but after watching the team over the next month hang in there with the best the NL West had to offer, that's when I finally got around to convincing myself that the team might have something going for them this year.

Was there a point after that when you thought they’d blown their chance?

Kishi: Not really- once I actually felt safe admitting we had a shot at this thing, I figured I might as well stick on it the whole way. Yeah, there were rough patches- that trip through Philadelphia and Atlanta was unpleasant, as was losing a few to the Padres. But this team has basically spent the entire season trying to prove to me that for this time, they are going to fight and they’re going to exceed my hopes. That’s basically what I love about these guys, and they’ve earned every little bit of faith I have in them right now.

Sprankton: There was so much awesomeness in the second half that any sour notes are easily foreshadowed by the good things. The losing streak in Philly and Atlanta was a rough one, though.

Jim: After every single game they lost? Given close to three seasons of undiluted suckage, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and the team to revert to the 75-win outfit expected. The six-game losing streak, obviously, but the series in SF, where we were 1-0 down in the late innings, until Ryan Roberts homered, was certainly a potential turning point.

snakecharmer: I was a little worried when San Francisco went on their 8-game winning streak and Arizona was only playing .500 ball, since that’s what allowed the Diamondbacks to leapfrog the Giants. With three games left between us, I didn’t want that lead to shrink to less than five. But even then, the Diamondbacks had proven their resilience, we weren’t playing completely awful baseball, and I was still pretty confident that that 9 ½ game lead wouldn’t completely disappear. And look, it didn’t!

soco: During the 6 game losing streak it seemed like it might slip away.  It was exciting for the team to clinch last night, but it also felt a bit like an inevitability.

CaptainCanuck: Mid July, I think. They weren't playing terribly, but they just couldn't make up ground. And then there was the six game losing streak in August when it looked like we were going to throw away our season.

What was the best (prior to clinching the title) and worst single moment of the year for you?

Kishi: Hmm, a lot of fantastic moments. But I’m going to go with July 4th, against Milwaukee. We left Kansas City feeling pretty good after sweeping them, but then ran smack into the wall of the rest of the AL Central, losing three straight series. We’re still above .500, but Putz is on the DL, we’re reeling a bit. Then the Brewers come in and put up a big five run inning against Huddy, chasing him after the fourth. Pretty dire- I mean, we gave up a grand slam to their pitcher. And then... they start to come back. Nothing big. A run one inning, two runs the next, slowly chipping away. Meanwhile, the bullpen comes in and just shuts down the Brewers down. Down 6-1, they fought back to win it in the ninth, 8-6. Every starter had a hit, everyone except Parra had an RBI or a run- it was a great team effort, and I think it is a fantastic example of the things that make the team fun to watch.

Worst moment- Stephen Drew sliding into home. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.

Sprankton: I thoroughly enjoyed watching KJ hit for the cycle and I wanted to turn back time in order to unsee the Stephen Drew injury.

Jim: The best moment was one without a Diamondback to be seen. At the Home-Run Derby, to hear the fans chanting for Justin Upton was just awesome. That showed Arizona fans don’t just cheer when told to, and care passionately. The worst? I missed Drew’s injury, and am glad I did. So probably the recent news that team president Derrick Hall has prostate cancer. That was a huge shock, since he’s younger than I am. A check-up appointment is being made.

snakecharmer: So, so many good moments. In the first half, it was Ian Kennedy’s first CGSHO the day after his daughter was born. Plenty of 6-run comebacks. The best game I went to was August 2nd in San Francisco with the socos, a great start by Hudson, and Paul Goldschmidt’s first home run off of Lincecum. Aside from Drew’s injury (I watched that live, it hurt all the way up here), it was probably Barry Enright’s return to the major leagues, watching a guy that many of us (on Twitter) feel close to, struggle at something he’d worked so hard for.

emily: Being present for Ian Kennedy’s 20th win was a really special thing that I’m glad I was able to do. Worst was absolutely Drew going down. I thought we were done, then and there.

soco: Well it’s hard to say whether the best game I went to was the All-Star Game or the one in San Francisco in which Goldschmidt clapt up Lincecum.  But best moment?  Is it trolling Salt River complex with the wife and Kishi?  Is it going to all the All-Star Festitivies with Steve and Jinnah?  Is it chatting with players and getting autographs with snakecharmer?  Can there be only one moment?  Or a string of never ending moments that you can’t hold onto no matter how hard you try?

Worst is obviously the Drew injury.  I still can’t bear to watch the video.

CaptainCanuck: Best, by far, was that Houston series in August. After they had gotten crushed in the first game 9-1, I had started to lose hope, even though we were only a half a game back out of first. The next game, the team decided to start the game by being down by six, seemingly throwing away a series that needed to be used in order to gain ground. And then, all of a sudden, the team clawed all the way back to tie the game, capped off with Upton's home run to take the lead. The next game was even better, being down by four with six outs to go. They made it interesting in the 8th by cutting the lead in half, and, with the team being down to their last strike of the ball game, Goldschmidt crushed a pitch into the bleachers to tie the game. It went into extras, where CY proceeded to walk it off with a homer of his own. That series was also the birth of the pony, IIRC. The worst, just like everyone else here said, was Stephen Drew's injury.

As a fan, how does this win compare to 2007?

Kishi: Way better. 2007 was great fun, but I expected the team to do at least fairly well- we had the reigning Cy Young winner on the mound, we had some players on the field I was looking forward to seeing, so I had hopes for the season. This year, I was aiming for .500 and second or third place, so they’ve exceeded my expectations by such a large degree, it’s fantastic.

Sprankton: Wasn’t as big of a fan in ‘07 as I am now so I can’t really say.

Jim: This is more unexpected, which I think steps up the pleasure. But it’s hard to compare one against another. I certainly feel more invested in the team these days; the players seemed a more distant bunch in 2007, and there’s a sense of community now that wasn’t present for me.

snakecharmer: It was different. That ‘07 team was... well, it was a mix of "new Baby Backs" (Upton, Young, Montero, Mark Reynolds) with a bunch of veterans (Eric Byrnes, Orlando Hudson, Livan Hernandez). This team definitely feels more like a cohesive group, like they’ve fought through the wars together, and as though they really like each other and trust each other. It was definitely unexpected, we were just hoping to stay above .500 after so many changes in the organization and coaching staff, and yet here we are in first. Similarly though, that ‘07 squad felt lucky, with Bob Melvin and his bizarre lineups and 1-run wins. With this team, it still feels like we should be worried about regression!

And yes, I too am a bigger fan now. Back in August of 2007 I had just started contributing to the Snakepit and hanging out with you crazy people, and now we are so much larger and work so much harder and we’re more close-knit than we were four years ago.

emily: So much better. This team wasn’t supposed to win, until at least next year.

soco: I think it feels more satisfying in the sense that the team, although considered a Cinderella story by everyone including myself, really won the division.  In 2007, yes we were the top seed in the NL, but we kind of backed into the division, the rest of the league was awful, and it never really felt that secure.  This year it’s kind of felt like our destiny to win the division since early August.  

CaptainCanuck: I don't think I can recall properly... I think I was only a casual fan then.

Does dethroning the World Series champions make it sweeter?

Kishi: Yes. But even better is knowing that I can wake up the morning of the NLDS and know that I don’t have to see Brian freaking Wilson pitch anymore this year.

Sprankton: I still like Brian Wilson. Anyway, yes and no. I mean, it’s cool and all, but all of the injuries they’ve had this year makes me unable to relish it as much. Either way, the Giants are losing which makes me a happy boy.

Jim: While the Giants had largely been irrelevant to me since Barry Bonds left, the whole ‘torture’ meme last year irritated me. Oh, and Brian Wilson’s beard. And those panda hats, worse even than those faux Manny dreadlocks the Dodgers had. But there’s huge delight to be found in inflicting defeat on a small, bitter subset of Giants fans: the kind wishing bodily injury on me, or comparing me, seriously, to Qaddafi.

Sprankton: That’s gold, Jim. Pure gold.

"You might be in 2nd place right now because the rest of the division is so awful, but I’d love to hear why your team is going to compete for a division title a year after finishing over 20 games out when your offseason consisted mostly of signing a guy named "Putz."

"Be grateful for your freakish World Series win."


Jim: Yeah, while there are certainly cool Giants fans - some of whom hang out here on occasions - there are also jackasses like that author. Those are the ones who make this title a slice of deliciously gooey, chocolate fudge cake.

snakecharmer: Heck yeah it does, and even sweeter that we’ve clinched it AGAINST San Francisco at that!!

emily: Helllllls yeah! (postscript: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)

soco: I’d have taken the division in any manner, but it certainly a bit of...schadenfreude...that the Giants lost the division to a team they likely dismissed most of the season.  There are many nice Giants fans, as my excursion to San Francisco can attest, but I’m glad it came against their team simply to rub it in the faces of some of the knuckleheads online.  Torture this, babies.

CaptainCanuck: Absolutely. Not only that, but I despise everything about the Giants... Everything from Wilson's beard, Lincecum's hair (though nothing against the player, really), how scrubtastic zombie hitters helped fuel their World Series title, and that stupid "torture" thing... Goldschmidt's triple; how's that for torture?!

What are your post-season plans? Going to any games?

Kishi: Well, I’m still waiting to see if I can pull off that train robbery before I commit to buying tickets...

Sprankton: Maybe if a game goes into extra innings...

Jim: Hopefully, one game per series. If we make the World Series, I’m not going to miss being there this time, even if I have to sell a kidney to do so. Otherwise, watch as much as I can, and fortunately, my vacation bank is almost full. Should we get to the grand finale, I think I’ll be taking the week off work!

snakecharmer: If they get to the World Series, I’ll ABSOLUTELY fly down for it. :) Otherwise.... stuck up here in the ‘Bay, watching on tv, chatting in the GDTs...

emily: I’m putting off my playoff purchases for the NLCS, assuming we make it that far. And I will absolutely be at the World Series. I wouldn’t miss that for anything.

soco: It’s hard to say.  My wife will be about 8 months pregnant when the playoffs start, so she’s obviously not going to be wanting to come.  It also depends on whether we get home-field advantage.  If we do, it’s possible for me to go to Game 1.  But I haven’t made any plans because life has other demands for me.  

CaptainCanuck: Ha, well, I'll be lucky to be able to just watch the games. But that's what I'm going for.