Two months into the 2017 season, I wrote as follows:
The big picture is, this year is shaping up as a success. Indeed, personally, these two months have been the most pure fun I’ve had as a Diamondbacks fan, since the last time we were on the post-season. I embrace the current success wholeheartedly and choose to celebrate it. I’d recommend anyone give that approach a shot.
I hope you followed my advice, because the regular season continued to be a genuine pleasure. Even since the above, there was so much more to appreciate, whether it was the staggering second-half posted by trade deadline acquisition, J.D. Martinez, or Archie Bradley becoming the team’s emotional leader and lightning rod. Zack Greinke gave the team their best pitched season since Dan Haren was around, and the team reeled off a franchise-record thirteen consecutive victories, including a streak of 98 consecutive innings without trailing. It culminated a week past Sunday, the D-backs securing home-field advantage in the wild-card game tonight.
So, we’re in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, a position precisely zero of 35 ESPN pundits predicted for Arizona before the season. And I now have absolutely no expectations. Whatever happens, it doesn’t matter. Sure, I’d love for the team to beat the Rockies, then the Dodgers, and perhaps the Cubs, on the way to the World Series. But unlike certain franchises I could mention, I don’t feel like they must, to justify a $200m+ budget. My expectations this year, were for a win tally somewhere around the mid-70’s: a return to respectability, and something on which we could build thereafter. Everything more than that has been gravy, of the richest and tastiest variety.
Reach .500? Don’t mind if I do. Compete for a playoff spot? Oh, go on then. Secure that spot and have a shot at the World Series? No, I couldn’t possibly... Well, only if you absolutely insist. So we could get destroyed by the Rockies tonight: this year would still be a remarkable success, and one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in my time as a fan. That’s what we need to remember. Because let’s be honest, the odds are somewhere over 90% that the year will end in an L for Arizona. For nine of the ten playoff sides, that’s the nature of the beast. It’s inevitable. And I’m already emotionally prepared for that, whether it happens tonight or in Game 7 of the World Series.
When it comes, I’ll shrug it off, in much the same way I did the defeat that ended our record winning streak: “Hey, it was still a hell of a run.” In that (likely at some point) event, we should not mourn the season, but celebrate it. Remember the walk-off wins, the come from behind victories, the amazing plays and performances, all the moments that made up leap out of our seats. None of those will be diminished or erased by what happens in the post-season: indeed, they can only be burnished brighter by whatever may happen in the coming weeks, and the moments it brings.
The 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks have been awesome, likely providing me with more fan pleasure - certainly, more excitement - than the previous five years combined. That’s in the bank, and not going anywhere. This is a season to be celebrated, and whatever may come from here on, you’ll hear no complaints from me. Join me in that celebration.