As we chug toward Spring Training, it is worth noting that the Arizona Diamondbacks are entering their 15th year of Major League Baseball. Since they began play in 1998, there have not been too many franchises that have duplicated the success of the D-Backs. Granted, much of that success came early in their existence but with the current team of General Manager Kevin Towers and Field Boss Kirk Gibson, Arizona is poised for continued excellence in the foreseeable future.
Since the Diamondbacks appeared on the scene, the New York Yankees have won 11 division titles, easily the best in baseball. The Minnesota Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals are next with 6 titles apiece. Three teams are next with 5, the Philadelphia Phillies , the Los Angeles Angels and the new kids, the Arizona Diamondbacks. All of the other teams on this list have played ball for at least 50 years and for the D-Backs to be mentioned as a part of this group is a remarkable accomplishment. Of course Arizona won the 2001 World Series, something that has eluded in that time span such storied organizations as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles. Given the state of all three of those teams compared to the Diamondbacks, Arizona could win a second title before any of those franchises wins their next one.
In the short life of the Diamondbacks, they sure have had wild peaks and valleys. There was a 35 game improvement from 1998 to 1999, going from 65 wins to 100 wins. In 2002 they recorded 98 victories but in 2004 that victory total was almost halved, with only 51. Incidentally, that 2004 record of 51-111 represents the worst National League record since the 1965 New York Mets. More recently, the D-Backs finished with a paltry 65-97 record in 2010 only to vault to a 94-68 record in 2011, 29 wins better than the prior season. Let’s hope for 2012, that win total doesn’t slide back 20 to 74. With Towers and Gibson running the show, the likelihood of that happening is small.
It is hard to believe the Arizona Diamondbacks have been around for only 15 years. Given the fact they have been to the playoffs on average once every three seasons, the rest of America has seen big league baseball in the desert quite a bit. Perhaps if the D-Backs win two more World Series within the next five seasons, we may consider them as having the best first 20 years in Major League Baseball history.
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Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Baltimore Orioles Chicago Cubs Kevin Towers Kirk Gibson Los Angeles Angels Los Angels Dodgers Minnesota Twins National League New York Yankees Philadelphia Phillies St. Louis Cardinals World Series