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The end of 2016: Purgatory

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I look back at 2016 and ahead at the state of the team, which is trying to climb out of the depths.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a building down the street from where I live called “Crossfit Purgatory.” It’s small, and hard to see unless you’re looking right at it as you drive, which you shouldn’t do because distracted driving is not a thing that should be done.

It does conjure up a few images, mostly as to how that certain subculture views itself. It also could probably be the name of a cocktail. I’m thinking Muscle Milk, Fireball, Jager, then lit on fire. Nobody said it was a good cocktail.

(Fun game to play: Take a random group of two or three words and see what sort of cocktail that would be.)

But the first thing that came to mind was a state of being that is sort of middle of road, but incredibly intense. Nobody would want to go to “Crossfit Hell” except for the most unhinged gym bro. “Crossfit Heaven” sounds too soft. You want the intensity, bro.

I wrote previously about the Diamondbacks being sort of middle of the road right now in terms of contention for 2017, but it might be deeper than that. Right now the team, the players, the coaching staff, the management, us fans who spend all day rehashing the same arguments online over and over again that outside observers are worried that you lost your jobs or something, everyone is in a state of penance.

Our sin, and it is collective even amongst the most skeptical of us because that’s how it works, is allowing the spam e-mail erection pill peddlers of Stewart/La Russa into our lives. It seemed like a different sort of change after Kevin Towers. Who was more Gil Gunderson than anything. After a promising 2015, the lever over the pit of lava was pulled, and we have spent all the time since then trying to climb out.

We are in the purgatory stage now, which Mike Hazen is trying to guide us out of. The root of purgatory is purge, and that comes from a latin word “to cleanse”, and there has been some cleansing of the organization, and it hasn’t always been pleasant. Jean Segura is gone to toss some fish at Pike Place Market during a bumper shot on Sunday Night Football. Welington Castillo’s salary became a little too much, and he’s living the swank Baltimore life (Insert reference to “The Wire” here). Daniel Hudson moved on to Pittsburgh. These all hurt to certain extents for different people. Huddy was especially bittersweet, since he was one of the last vestiges of the team being in some sort of Heaven.

Will any of these bring us to paradise? Too early to say. Like anyone, Hazen doesn’t know for sure, but there seems to be a plan of some sort. If he fails, and in however many years it takes to determine that, someone else will try to helm us upwards. And so on and so forth. Same as it ever was.

The state of the roster wasn’t the only thing undergoing a metaphorical theological dilemma in 2016. Chase Field itself seems to be a living embodiment of purgatory, as the team and Maricopa County decided to air their dirty laundry about the state of the stadium.

A few years ago, the idea of a team abandoning a perfectly functional stadium in the middle of a downtown area to go to a more affluent suburb would have seemed ridiculous to me. A few years ago I was a very dumb person, because of course someone would do that, especially if they didn’t have to pay for it. Not only has Atlanta given the blueprint for ripping off another franchise, they’ve also given the blueprint for getting out of a place you’ve been in for less than 20 years.

Chase Field’s future does seem to be a metaphor for the state of the roster. Is it going to be around in its current state? Will there be improvements made to salvage it? Is it going to be blown up completely and moved to Paradise Valley for the bemusement of the wealthy? (In the stadium scenario, the players would also move to a new stadium, so the metaphor still works.)

It can all be a little exhausting, the uncertainty of purgatory. When you’re good and in heaven, you’ve got it made. When in hell, it’s bad, but at least you know that when it’s 9:40 AM, you’re going to be repeatedly skewered by a pitchfork made of bees. Purgatory? Well, you might get to the awesome place, but the specter of the buzzing Arizona State prop lingers, and even if you get used to it you don’t want to be there.

Every roster move for the next year or so is going to carry that sort of nervous weight. It’s unlikely we’ll be the beneficiaries of a Swanson-Miller type deal, so there will be some risk. The decision by the F.O. to not blow everything up adds to that (though, to be fair, this seems like not the year to do that, considering contract statuses and such.) There is a chance, maybe a slim one, maybe a good one, that any or all of these will lead us ascendant from our penance. It’s the track that I’m going to take, personally, because thinking the opposite makes me feel miserable, and I think in the short term it’s okay to have some sort of faith.

2016 Diamondbacks was a tale of sadness and things not working out. There may not be much to hope for in 2017, but dammit, it’s better than being defeatist and miserable. Hope that the purgatory is left behind, even if for a short while.

Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller can’t be any worse, right?

Crossfit Purgatory has a very good Yelp rating (albiet a small sample size), and said Yelp page shows an interior with a black brick wall and the words “Crossfit Purgatory” painted on. At least I think so. “Crossfit” is in a dark blue, making it very hard to read, which as someone who deals with things like that in their professional life makes me cringe. However, there seem to be people there doing crossfitty stuff, and in one picture dressed up in weird costumes, but they seem to be happy, so nobody should really judge.

Maybe there is an odd sort of happiness to be found in the Purgatory while you’re there.