The Mariners are officially eliminated from postseason contention and that is sad, but other teams have made their fans very happy by reaching the hallowed ground of the postseason, and that is nice for them, I guess. There is no reason we shouldn’t get a little taste of that glory just because we are Mariners fans, so over the coming weeks, we will be inviting a writer from each playoff-bound team to make their most compelling case for the postseason hearts and minds of Mariners fans. First up is the very amusing Charlie Gebow from AZ Snakepit, who you can find on twitter at: @CLEFOAINTACRIME.
1. The short pitch: in a tweet, limerick, haiku, or other short form, tell us why we should bandwagon your team.
There once was a team at Chase
Who couldn't keep up the pace
But all of a sudden
The bats started thuddin'
And they landed in second place
2. The longer pitch: Expand on the most compelling reasons to root for your team.
The Diamondbacks were, for all intents and purposes, dead in the water at the end of 2016. Dave Stewart (with some help from his predecessor) had obliterated the farm system, nobody was playing up to their potential, and it looked like they were going to waste the best years of Paul Goldschmidt's career. A new front office regime was hired, but the expectation was a longer, but more sensible rebuild.
However, a funny thing happened. The new front office, as well as all of the new on-field staff had an epiphany,
"What if you guys didn't suck?"
Lo and behold the Arizona Diamondbacks of 2017.
A team that made a quick turnaround from winning 69 games to 90 plus is a good story, and one worth rooting for. Dave Stewart should have set the franchise back at least a half decade, but they persevered. Mike Hazen, the new GM, made relatively minor moves in the offseason to tweak the roster, with the big splash coming in the form of Marte/Walker/Segura/Haniger, which we're all familiar with. I think that's inspiring to a fan of any team.
(The irony here is that the two best and arguably third best Diamondback starters this year, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and Zack Godley, were all Stewart acquisitions. Baseball!)
Quick hits on some players: J.D. Martinez hits a lot of pretty-looking dingers. Paul Goldschmidt should win MVP one of these years. Jake Lamb went to UW and is from Seattle. Greinke can still bring it despite losing velocity. Robbie Ray is a strikeout machine. Archie Bradley has a mountain man beard and is throwing fire emoji out of the pen. Fernando Rodney still does the arrow thing and it's awesome every time. Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte are contributing, and doing well, and you probably have some soft spot for former players....? (The ellipses followed by a question mark indicates that sentences ends with an upward inflection, meaning that I'm reasonably sure in that assumption, but not 100%)
Also the Diamondbacks are more likable than every other probable National League team. The Dodgers are the Yankees for people on a diet. The Cubs are old news. The Nats screw it all up anyways. The Rockies have a creepy, leering dinosaur mascot. The choice is clear.
Roger Clyne, the guy who wrote and played in the band that did the theme to King of the Hill, as well as the underrated 90s rock hit Banditos, wrote a song that plays after every Diamondbacks home win and it kinda grows on you.
3. Help us fake it: What's a cool stat we can casually drop to make it seem like we've been following this team all along?
From August 27th to September 3rd, the Diamondbacks led for 52 straight innings. That is to say at the end of every inning for those 52, they had the lead, so there was a lot of scoring in the first inning. Yeah, Cleveland had one during their long win streak, but any idiot can take the lead back late in the game. The true connoisseur will appreciate shorter, but sustained, excellence.
4. Our new favorite player: Which under-the-radar player has a particularly cool backstory, social media presence, or is just generally awesome and worthy of our love and admiration?
David Peralta might be everyone's favorite player if he were on your favorite team. He's the guy who gets everyone pumped up from the dugout, goes all out, and his bat has been instrumental in helping the offense explode this year. He also has a great story. He washed out of the minors as a pitcher due to injury, then reinvented himself as a hitter in independent ball, got signed, and is now the leadoff hitter for a playoff team.
He's also appointed himself the first person to high-five a teammate who just scored. And he will do that, come hell or high water.
5. Mariners fans love an underdog. What's your team's underdog quotient?
The Diamondbacks last made the playoffs in 2011. Now, I'm keenly aware of the readership for this website, so I'm not going to say that's been a long struggle. The last playoff series was a heartbreaker in the NLDS against the Brewers. Twisting that knife was the fact that we later learned that Ryan Braun, who killed the Diamondbacks in that series, was snorting amphetemene-laced horse steroids with the Popeye spinach or whatever.
Then came two mediocre years that included alienating then franchise cornerstone Justin Upton, leading to his eventual trade. Daniel Hudson had to get Tommy John surgery... twice. The Dodgers were buttheads, Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers decided that hitting people with pitches was a good idea (A narrative that *still* has stuck, despite being on the replacements for those guys' replacements) and all sorts of other ennui.
Then it all collapsed in 2014. Kevin Towers got fired. Dave Stewart came in his stead. After an under-.500, but very improved, 2015 season, Stew went crazy. He possibly looked at the gradients on the new uniforms for too long, but he signed Zack Greinke to a deal that will look bad in a few years regardless of the outcome of these playoffs. He did the infamous Dansby Swason-Shelby Miller trade. The team tanked again in 2016. There was nowhere to go but up, but nobody expected them to get this good this quickly. I still can't believe it! Other people probably believe it less!
And the thing is, the window might be closing as fast as it opened. Payroll restrictions, impending free agency, and the specter of regression all hang over this team, in the future. This very well may be their best shot in awhile. You gotta put your emotional energy behind that.
On that, I'd say the quotient is pretty high. I don't know the exact number. I went to public school in Arizona, we didn't learn Underdog Quotient.
6. The happiness quotient: What are the chances your team can go all the way?
Pretty good, all things considered. If they get past the Wild Card game, the Diamondbacks match up well with anyone. The top of their rotation doesn't match up with the Kershaws and Scherzers of the world, but I would argue they have the deepest one in the entire playoff field. Greinke, Ray, whichever two of Godley/Walker/Patrick Corbin won't be a let up for whoever they play. The probable NLDS opponent is the Dodgers, and the Diamondbacks swept them twice in the past month. If the middle of the lineup gets hot, there will hopefully be big leads that the, admittedly, shaky middle of the bullpen can give way to Bradley and Rodney.
The playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot, but there's no reason to believe the Diamondbacks couldn't hang with any team, NL or AL, in the playoff field in a short series. We got this.