Is it safe for Arizona Diamondbacks fans to come out now?
After spending the last three years in a metaphorical bomb shelter right out of the 1960's Cold War, D-backs fans are starting to wonder if it's safe to open the cellar door, breathe the air and drink the water.
Walk up business during the last homestand was brisk, TV ratings were up and most importantly, the D-backs are winning again. Remarkably, the six-game win streak that ended on Tuesday was the longest enjoyed by the team since April of 2008 when they won eight straight. That team -- which was fresh off a NLCS appearance the year before -- got off to that 20-8 start that month and was the toast of baseball.
In the three years since that 20-8 start, it's been a nuclear winter. Losses piled up faster than the snickers when the words "organizational advocacy" were uttered. Brandon Webb now measures success not by Cy Young awards but by rehab bullpen sessions. Dan Haren is an Angel. Bob Melvin represents the bookends; here at the beginning of that stretch and back just in time to watch it end. Through it all, I am the last Burns standing (Eric and Josh both spelled it with a "y" but you get the point).
The last two years in particular have been like the Black Sleep of Kali. A nightmare. Embarassing. Unwatchable. Everybody Loves Raymond reruns were more entertaining. Forget the brand of baseball they were playing; in a market full of choices it was a bad product. It was actually starting to gnaw at my love of the game.
Now, it's watchable. Engaging. As compelling as a game can be before the temps hit 100. I'm not minimizing it by using such lackluster words. It's a major upgrade compared to the last couple of years. Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson have opened the windows and aired this puppy out. Every night you sit down with the intentions of watching a D-backs game, chances are you're going to see a good baseball game. As I sit here following their 2-1 win against the Rockies Wednesday, words like watchable, engaging and compelling are good enough for me.
Are they a contender? Good Lord, do you need them to be? After eating prison food for the last two years I don't think my first meal needs to be a filet medium rare. A burger will do just fine, I'll work my way up to steak. After the hell we've been through with this organization the last couple of years it's unnecessary to rubber stamp the team a CONTENDER before we even get to Memorial Day weekend.
For now just enjoy the fact that it's indeed safe to come out.