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Preview, #143: 9/9 vs. Braves

On the fickle nature of fandom

NCAA Womens Basketball: Women’s Final Four-Mississippi State vs Connecticut Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

Ronald Acuna - LF Jon Jay - LF
Johan Camargo - 3B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Freddie Freeman - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Nick Markakis - RF A.J. Pollock - CF
Tyler Flowers - C Daniel Descalso - 2B
Ozzie Albies - 2B Steven Souza - RF
Ender Inciarte - CF Nick Ahmed - SS
Dansby Swanson - SS Alex Avila - C
Touki Toussaint - RHP Robbie Ray - LHP

Going by recent fan sentiment about the team, you’d be forgiven for thinking the 2018 D-backs were on course for 100 or more losses, rather than playing meaningful baseball games in the final month of the campaign. Neutral pre-season expectations were that the team would be hard pressed to reproduce last year’s 93 wins, with most projections in the low to mid 80’s. Right now, while the team looks likely to surpass those predictions by a few notches, I suspect most D-backs fans would not regard the year as a success if they fail to reach the post-season. But this pessimism it’s likely more a result of the ordering of results, than the results themselves.

Simply reverse the schedule, keeping each game’s outcome and performances exactly the same. The D-backs are still at the same 76-66 record, of course. But despite the recent slump of Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona has now won 21 of their last 29 games, to come back from three games below .500 and be in contention for a post-season spot. While exactly the same numbers, I strongly suspect fan sentiment would be radically different. For it appears the D-backs are seen almost entirely through the lens of the last 10 games or so. Is this just a baseball thing? Or do fans of, say, the Cardinals let their emotions be dictated by the most recent result? [1 NFL game = 10 MLB games in schedule terms]

I’ve more or less come to terms that the 2018 D-backs are about who they were expected to be, despite the radical peaks and valleys. 20-8 through the end of April! 8-19 in May! 19-9 in June! With that degree of inconsistency, it’s hard to blame fans for feeling psychological whiplash or even some kind of Helsinki Syndrome [“as in Helsinki, Sweden”], after suffering through this crypto-abuse and resulting mental anguish for five months. Although that may seem a stretch to some, the relationship between a team and its supporters can arguably be no less intense than any other relationship. I’ve certainly devoted more time to the D-backs than some ex-girlfriends. :) [Probably why they’re ex!]

But I think I’ve gone through the five stages of grief and come out the other side at this point, having reached acceptance. Whatever happens to the D-backs over the remaining 20 games will happen, regardless of what I do, say or think, and should only be accepted as such.