2015 was the 18th season in Diamondbacks history, and also, hard as it is to believe, my 18th season as a Diamondbacks fan. I wish I could say that every season has a memory for me, but that wouldn't really be true. I remember moments from the first few seasons, culminating of course in the triumph of 2001, but I spent several years not really paying very much attention to baseball. But I've been lucky. To the best of my memory, I watched one Diamondbacks game in 2004. (Hey, I was in Montana at the time, and I couldn't get MLB.tv until recently.) It just so happened to be Randy Johnson throwing a perfecto. I did miss out on both of Aaron Hill's cycles, though, even though I was following the D-backs much more closely then. It wasn't until players that I saw in Mobile (Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, primarily) made it to the majors that I really started following the D-backs again in earnest.
How will I remember 2015? I'll remember a team that played better than it had any right to, a team that could either blow the game or stage a surprising comeback, sometimes on the same night. I'll remember an offense that could strike fear into any pitching staff, and a pitching staff that...well, Brad Ziegler was great! I hope I'll forget all the hype about Mount .500 (in the dictionary of idiom, a picture of this "mountain" belongs next to "making a mountain out of a molehill.")
If there was a stretch of the year that summed up the Diamondbacks season, it was May 11th-31st. The Diamondbacks entered this stretch 14-16, but already 6 games back of the Dodgers. The Nationals (in full contender mode, long before a Papelbon fueled implosion) were coming to town. And Josh Collmenter had the worst start of his career as the Diamondbacks fell 11-1. These being the 2015 Diamondbacks, though, they returned the favor against Stephen Strasburg, winning the next day 14-6. They were in position to win the series, but a pair of blown saves from Randall Delgado (in the sixth) and Addison Reed (a grand slam in the ninth) meant that the D-backs were reeling as they traveled to Philadelphia.
There they were swept, only to turn around and sweep the Marlins in four games in Miami. That brought the Cubs to town, Jon Lester on the mound. The Cubs led 2-1, but Nick Ahmed took Lester deep to left in the fifth to tie it. This was Ahmed's first home run of the year. Addison Reed gave an October preview in the tenth, allowing the Cubs to take a 4-2 lead. But with two outs in the bottom of the tenth, A.J. Pollock doubled and the Cubs pitched to Goldy, who homered to tie the game, again. That set up the unlikeliest of duos in the thirteenth, when Tuffy Gosewisch doubled and Nick Ahmed singled him home to give the D-backs the victory.
The D-backs were still 6 games back heading to St. Louis, where, on Memorial Day, I attended my first D-backs game. St. Louis really is a nice place to watch a game, and there were a surprising number of D-backs fans in attendance. Unfortunately, the D-backs wasted a very good outing by Chase Anderson, as well as a bases-loaded chance against Trevor Rosenthal in the tenth, and lost 3-2. They also lost the next two games of the series, even though they had chances to win both. A trip to Milwaukee followed, where Goldy set records (for getting walked) and the D-backs won the series, but lost a monster 17 inning game, to end a crazy stretch of the season right where they started: in fourth place and six games back.
Fate was a bit kinder when I attended my second game of the season, in Houston on July 31st. After taking an early lead, the D-backs fell behind when Rubby De La Rosa allowed two home runs in the fifth, which accounted for four runs. But the Diamondbacks did their best Kansas City Royals impersonation, scoring twice in the sixth on groundouts, then, in the seventh, stringing singles together so Cliff Pennington (maybe not the most talented, but one of my favorites over the past few years, and I'm glad his place in baseball history is assured thanks to pitching in the ALCS) could score the tying run. After that, though, it was back to D-backs baseball, squandering opportunities in the eighth and ninth. But Welington Castillo and Jake Lamb led off the tenth with back-to-back no-doubt home runs, and the D-backs held on to win.
I also conceived the idea of visiting all 30 ballparks, but by the time I finish, that number will almost certainly be higher. I checked St. Louis and Houston off the list this year, and I've already been to Wrigley Field (a long, long time ago) and Atlanta and Detroit.
So, while there was no triumphant ending to the season, I'll still look back on it fondly. It was a baseball season, and whatever happens, I'll still be a D-backs fan. I look forward to another good season, win or lose, in 2016.