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Would you cheer for this club?

What if the D-Backs were a bit more like a (modest) European soccer team...

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Hall of Famer

It is 2082 and 60-year old Jay Spitz has just been elected to the Hall of Fame. In his opening speech he remembers where it all began: Arizona.

He was just a kid, only 4 years old, when he started to hit of a tee in the back yard, while his dad would prepare smoked meat, a thing that became quite popular around the mid 2020s on a show called “Brute BBQ with Nik”.

As a young kid he was a D-Back. That’s his town. He started with the D-Backs at a young age, when he entered their youth system right after becoming 6 years old. Special agreements with local middle schools and high schools until enrolling in a special D-Backs athletes program with ASU where he was the university’s top performer. He made his D-Backs debut shortly after wrapping up his university career.

But he would soon leave Arizona as one of the nation’s top talents. Other teams lured him away from Arizona with a big pile of money (the D-Backs got a big one too in the form of a transfer fee) and he’d continue a HOF career that would bring great success to both him and the Dodgers and Yankees, the MLB power houses. He would wrap up his career with his club though, the Arizona Diamondbacks, that welcomed him already in his late 30s. Although his name is in the record books of the Dodgers and Yankees, his heart was and still is with the Diamondbacks and no one will take that away.

The local fan

It is 2082 and 24-year old Jack Sommers participates in a session on the VRSnakePit. Talking in the virtual reality world is cool. Today’s chat is about the club and its history. Jack knows some about that, because his great grandfather was a legend on what was back then the AZSnakePit, something called a website on the internet. The love for the Diamondbacks went from great grandfather to grandfather to father and then to Jack, who was actually named after his great grandfather.

Jack recalls that in the early years of existence the D-Backs won a World Series. It was a highlight the team would never experience again, although they have come close a couple of times, although sporadically.

In those beginning years the club’s stadium back then, Chase Field, would be sold out. But meagre years afterwards saw support for the team waning and the club would be happy on days where they welcomed 10,000 to 15,000 fans. Something that seems unimaginable nowadays.

Another thing that is unimaginable is the possibility of actually winning a World Series. Until the new CBA that changed everything, in 2022, every team could, on paper, eventually win a World Series because of the infamous tanking and amateur draft. The leagues were much more balanced. That changed once all clubs had to scout and fight for prospects to sign with them. The Diamondbacks saw they could not compete with the big money that was in New York and Los Angeles and thus focused on spotting and attracting local talents. Thus Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Mexico became popular destinations for Diamondbacks’ scouts.

In the beginning it was tough, but year after the year the Diamondbacks got anchored more and more in Arizona and Mexico once people saw players they knew from middle school, high school or from their neighbourhood. That increased support for the team and nowadays the stadium is easily filled up to at least 80% of its capacity. When the Dodgers stop by the stadium is packed and vibrant and where many years ago Dodger blue would be dominant, nowadays just a small section of blue can be spotted. No matter how bad the team is: it is Arizona’s team and they can always count on the support of their fans.

Fiction?

Of course this is fiction. Or at least right now it is fiction and will probably be fiction for the nearby future as any new CBA will not ever change this radically.

What the article is sketching is a reorganisation of the MLB that somewhat resembles European soccer. I won’t bother you with the details of it, since others have already explored that for us.

Soccer in Europe is highly uncompetitive. It is a game of the rich and with rich we mean the filthy rich as in mogols from Russia and Arabia. A sad team like Manchester City now all of a sudden has become a powerful football club thanks to billions of oil money, something soccer fans call “modern football”. Time will tell if this is sustainable, like the Premier League slowly selling its soul to disgusting regimes and becoming as English as Jim McLennan is.

But those that are a bit further away from the top, where football is a bit more pure don’t bother about that. They know their place in history and thrive on incidental successes and see local players. That is what fills the stadiums and maintains their love for the club. They wouldn’t change that for the world.

Would you?