When the Dbacks finished the 2010 season with 97 losses it seemed as though the club would be a minimum of two years away from a playoff berth. It was the second consecutive year with 92+ losses and you could never have told me they would increase their win total by 29 games and win the West- wouldn’t have believed you. Only the Royals and Pirates surrendered more runs than the Dbacks in 2010 as their pitching staff was battered and bruised all year long.
So when the club did indeed reel off 94 wins on their way to an N.L. West title it is safe to say most of us were surprised to say the least. It was a year where everything seemed to go right for the team. Gibson would give a bench player a start when it made the least sense and the player would smack a homerun and finish with three hits. Kennedy was untouchable from April through September and J.J. Putz and David Hernandez were a sure thing on the back end nearly every time out.
It was a ton of fun and we all rode the wave into the playoffs with a cautious enthusiasm holding on to the thought that they could actually make a run. And they almost did. It took a game five- extra inning walk-off single by the Brewers to knock them out of the postseason.
There’s a similar thing happening in the bay area this year with the Oakland A’s as they completed an improbable run on game #162 by finishing a sweep of the [then] first place Texas Rangers to take sole possession of first place for the first time during the entire 2012 season. Again, they were in first place in the A.L. West for one game. Game #162. Impressive and improbable.
The A’s finished with a regular season record of 94-68, identical to the 2011 Dbacks. The A’s lost 88 games in 2011 finishing in fourth, 22 games back- the Dbacks were 27 back in 2010. The A’s finished this season 25-18 in one run games. The Dbacks were 28-16 in their magical season. They were within 18 total runs scored of being identical (731 Dbacks- 713 A’s) and both won 50+ games on their home turf. There were improbable heroes throughout the year for each team that made their magical season possible. The A’s set a record in 2012 for most rookie starts in MLB history with 53. The Dbacks got help from Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson in his first full year and an August call-up from Paul Goldschmidt (more on him later).
So while we are all definitely bummed and disappointed in the final result of the Dbacks season this year, it is fun to watch the A’s on their journey. Take a second to remember just how much fun that type of team is to follow. It’s a never-say-die type of mentality and every player in that dugout is on board. It’s an amazing culture that you can’t build by buying the best free agents on the market (ahem-Dodgers) and a nice relief from that type of clubhouse.
Enjoy the 2012 playoffs without the Diamondbacks. There is some excellent baseball being played right now and some unsung heroes are about to step out of their shell. Every pitch and every at bat matters, it’s Baseball in October.
Here’s my favorite moment from our playoff run last season when Goldschmidt smashed a fifth inning grand slam over the right center field wall. It is possibly the loudest I’ve ever heard a stadium, just udder madness. It was a year ago yesterday-enjoy (clickable links below).
And you HAVE to watch this one to understand just how insane the crowd’s reaction was. ~Thanks to Jon Bloom for uploading this video via AZ Sports 620, it’s a classic.
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