It was 2-2, bottom of the 9th, Game 7 of the World Series when I became a real sports fan.
Luis Gonzalez, the Diamondbacks’ 57 home run-slugging hero, against the infallible Mariano Rivera, undeniably the greatest closer in the history of the game and protector of the Yankee dynasty. Bases loaded, giant against even larger giant; the pressure felt by both sides.
I was barely 13, but my parents let me stay up late to watch the final innings. Since 1998, when the DBacks came into existence and my newly formed little league team adopted the team name as our own, I identified with Gonzo and Co. But this was the first time I saw real magic, the sort only baseball tends to provide.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what happened next. Instead of a long bomb or a hard-swinging strikeout, Rivera’s signature cutter tailed just over the plate, allowing Gonzalez to muster a bloop single, and with it, a World Series victory.
I remember being surprised that as I jumped up and down wildly in the family living room, my parents did the same. They’d seen the magic too.
Anyhow, that’s the night I found a passion for the game, and for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The club’s been through some tough seasons since, as did my little league team, but it’s once again an exciting time to be a Dbacks loyalist. With Dave Stewart, Tony La Russa and Chip Hale on board, there’s new blood in town. And with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, more help is on the way.
I’m grateful to be a part of the Venom Strikes team as Arizona builds a fresh foundation, and while I don’t expect to agree with everything the club does, I think we Diamondbacks fans are in for some fun.