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The 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks: Enjoy the ride!

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This season has vastly surpassed virtually all expectations. But you wouldn’t know it from some comments.

MLB: New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

I’m never going to tell anyone else “how to fan.” We all have our different styles of how we support the team, from the enthusiastic to the laid-back, and I generally have no problem with that. But, sheesh: we lose three games in a row and you’d think the sky had caved in. Seriously: comments like “This team sucks” and “This is not a playoff caliber team” are what I’d expect from drive-by trolls, not Diamondbacks supporters.

Let’s just review, shall we? Less than eight months ago, Arizona were an inning and a half away from having the third pick in next month’s draft. They made few major moves this winter - and those they did, included trading their MVP, Jean Segura. Not one of ESPN’s 35 experts even picked the Diamondbacks as a second wild-card in the NL - and two of those apparently picked the Miami Marlins. I cannot find a single projection system that expected us to have a .500 record. Before Opening Day, this had all the hallmarks of a rebuilding season at best, an utter fire sale at worst.

But, now? Despite today’s loss, the 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks:

  • Have the sixth-best record in the majors
  • Have the fifth-best run differential in the majors
  • Sit just two games back in the NL West
  • Are 4½ games up on the World Series champion Chicago Cubs
  • Would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Why is it apparently so difficult for some people to enjoy this utterly unexpected and thoroughly pleasant surprise? I could understand negativity if we were the Mets or Giants, picked by 24 and 29 ESPNers respectively to reach the playoffs, only to be flailing around below .500, looking around for the license plate of the truck which hit them. So it’s not as if we had any expectations to be shattered. Instead, this is the best start to a season the D-backs have had in a very long time. Here’s our record after 53 games this season and what it has been at the same point previously:

  • 2017: 31-22
  • 2016: 23-30
  • 2015: 25-28
  • 2014: 21-32
  • 2013: 30-23
  • 2012: 24-29
  • 2011: 29-24
  • 2010: 20-33
  • 2009: 23-30
  • 2008: 30-23
  • 2007: 30-23
  • 2006: 31-22
  • 2005: 30-23
  • 2004: 20-33
  • 2003: 24-29
  • 2002: 33-20
  • 2001: 31-22
  • 2000: 34-19
  • 1999: 31-22
  • 1998: 17-36

See anything? It’s the first winning record since 2013, and it’s a mark that hasn’t been matched since 2006, and surpassed only one time in all of franchise history, all the way back in 2002. We’ve done this despite 40% of our Opening Day rotation currently being on the DL - one of whom is done for the season - and with A.J. Pollock also out of action. It’s been a fabulous achievement, but rather than lauding the team, I’m hearing (for my tastes) far too much complaining, whether it’s “We can’t win on the road!”, “Why is Player X in the line-up?” or the ever-popular “Oh, look. Another junkballer shutting down our offense again.”

And that’s not even getting to the responses to individual at-bats. Every single player on the 25-man roster has forgotten more about baseball than anyone commenting in a Gameday Thread will ever know. They are among the top thousand people at playing baseball in the entire world. I do not have any skill which I would put anywhere close to that, and trust their judgment. Lord knows, I get frustrated at times. But if Brandon Drury, Yasmany Tomas, Jeff Mathis or Rey Fuentes swing at a 95 mph pitch, it’s because they thought it was a good idea. Criticizing them from your couch in the aftermath is not a good look for you. Trust me on that. Just have another Dorito instead.

Now, we’re fans. That’s short for “fanatics”. We care. We care deeply. That’s why we criticize. I get that. But baseball is based on failure. The average major-league player - again, the very best in the world - will fail to get on base two times out of three. The playoff teams this year will likely lose between sixty and seventy games. Some of those losses will come in a row. Many of them will be against teams they “should” beat. Those 2016 World Series winning Cubs? Were beaten 33 times by opponents with losing records. Games like today and streaks like the current one will happen. To quote a great philosopher, “Let it go, let it go - I am one with the wind and sky.”

Lord knows, we’ve all done enough whining - and legitimately had enough to complain about - over the last few years. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for some to embrace the positive: we’ve got out of the habit of just enjoying good things. I admit, it’s certainly possible the rest of the year may not go the team’s way. The schedule ahead has its brutal stretches - although, we said the same about April, and ended up going 16-11 there. So, worry about those games when we get there, eh? But it would take a startling collapse for this team to end up below average expectations.

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 - you might well find it a LOT more fun, than complaining about Goldschmidt’s road OPS or whatever.