As late as September 6, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals trailed the Atlanta Braves for the last available Wild Card playoff spot by 8.5 games.
That same year, the Boston Red Sox led Tampa Bay by nine games on September 4.
St. Louis and Tampa Bay ended up making the playoffs in 2011.
The Cardinals went on to win the World Series.
I mention these examples for all the Diamondback fans who don't want to give up on the 2013 season. I feel they might require some encouragement following Thursday's result in Cincinnati. Maybe I'm wrong, but it felt to me like the last of the air had seeped from a sad balloon the moment Wil Nieves' groundball-out ended the game and perhaps the season.
Seven games back of the team that just took three out of four from you with 36 games to play. Is the writing on the wall? Has it been there for some time and the optimists have been too blind to notice?
I still say, "fight on". Plenty of MLB teams have overcome larger deficits with fewer games left on the schedule. It seems a shame to have spent 66 games in first place this season and then throw in the towel while you're still on your feet. Sure, the judge's scorecards say you've lost more rounds than there are rounds left. But I will always believe in the puncher's chance.
And yet I can't deny that Thursday's 2-1 loss to Cincinnati felt different from most losses, heavier, dare I say -- final.
When the Seattle Mariners came back from 11.5 down to the Angels in 1995, they had guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and Edgar Martinez whacking away at their impending doom. Do the Diamondbacks have the firepower to mount a historic comeback? After Goldschmidt and Corbin, what do you have for ammunition? Grit?
Even the organization seemed to be fine with letting the season play out. A shrug-of-the-shoulders approach at the trade deadline suggested 'the Dodgers are too hot and those three teams in the National League Central are just too good to catch. And hey, sixth place isn't so bad, right?'
Not when only five teams get trophies. What color ribbon do you get for sixth place anyway? Green?
The Diamondbacks might tell you it's been a good run, but don't you accept it.
Meeting expectations is not what makes for a compelling tale. Imagine how bad The Natural would have been had Roy Hobbs been a .236 hitter with track power who clearly missed the small window of youth to prove he could play.
No, this team was believed to be slightly above average with an outside shot of making the playoffs, and that's what they delivered. That shot has been traveling on air for nearly five months now, and although we have no confirmation, I must now confess that it seems to have missed its target.