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Celebrate, Diamondbacks, you’ve earned it

The word team president Derrick Hall used to describe it
all was “magical,”
and you’ll get little argument here.

Friday night at Chase Field, in front of 42,606 screaming
fans, the team
nobody thought much of before the season began clinched
its first division
title since 2007.

And they did it the Diamondbacks way, rallying from a
late-inning deficit.

“All year we fight through it right to the end,” a
champagne-soaked Ian
Kennedy said.

Not like this is the end for these Diamondbacks. Sure, the
NL West title
guarantees them a spot in the postseason, but there are
still five games to
play before the real test begins.

And, while the team is still fighting for seeding, the
guess here is none of that matters — at least Friday
night, as the unlikely champions get to celebrate the
fruits of their labor.

“Nobody counted this team in, everybody thought they were
a bunch of
overachievers,” team president Derrick Hall said.

They still might be, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have
overachieved their
way into the playoffs, and if I’m the Phillies, Brewers or
Braves I want no
part of them.

It’s not that this is a supremely talented team with a
rotation that will shut
you down and a lineup that makes a pitching coach cringe.

The team is, however, a group of players that will
scratch, claw, and
pretty much fight until the 27th out, meaning they are
never out of a game.

That type of attitude will go a long way in the the month
of October, and it’s exactly what makes this an especially
dangerous group.

“This is a team,” Hall mused. “The comraderie of this
group, the
cohesiveness, the culture.”

All that was changed over the last year, a remarkable
turnaround for a
team that I, just like every other so-called “expert,” gave little chance of
winning the division.

Then again, we weren’t alone. Hall said he thought manager
Kirk Gibson was “a bit
crazy” when he spoke of getting to the postseason in
training, and
pitcher Daniel Hudson admitted he didn’t really see this

“You don’t really know what to expect with so many new
faces coming in
spring training,” he said. “But everybody kind of rallied
around each other
and said ‘let’s prove these people wrong’ so we did that

Maybe that’s part of what makes this team so fun. They are
a loose group,
seemingly playing with nothing to lose.

But it hasn’t been easy. Of course, it couldn’t be easy.

“It’s been a whirlwind season, you know, the peaks and
valleys we’ve gone
through, the adversity, losing Stephen [Drew] and having
the young guys
step up,” pitcher Joe Saunders said, “and then KT bringing
in some
different pieces, we’ve all melded together and I think
that speaks volumes
for how good of a team we are.”

And they’re not done yet, not by a long shot.

This team, while understandably excited about what
transpired Friday
night, does not have the appearance of a team that is
content with what
they’ve accomplished to this point.

“We still have work to do,” closer J.J. Putz said. “We’d
love to catch
Milwaukee and be able to host an opening series here,
treat our fans to
that, I think that would be special.”

While “magical” may be the word used to describe what has
happened in
the desert, maybe there’s nothing supernatural about it.
Perhaps this is just
what happens when talent meets confidence, as the
Diamondbacks appear
to be brimming with both.