DAN BICKLEY

Paul Goldschmidt’s farewell from D-backs is a painful goodbye

Dec 5, 2018, 7:10 PM | Updated: 8:27 pm
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)...
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Goodbye can be a terrible word. Especially when you fall in love.

Farewell, Paul Goldschmidt.

The former Diamondbacks slugger is ours no more. A civic pall is in the forecast, and sorrow is unavoidable. A debt of gratitude trumps cold-hearted logic.

Goldschmidt was just like Shane Doan and Larry Fitzgerald, homegrown and remarkably content, never needing more than what we could provide. He was an athlete who felt privileged to serve the Valley, one of the most dysfunctional sports markets on the planet.

He never bragged. He never complained. He always deferred credit. His humility inspired the masses and bored us to tears. He never became the full-blown superstar player or sizzling personality we occasionally desired. We love him for all of that.

He might be the greatest Diamondback ever. He didn’t win a World Series or win four consecutive Cy Young awards, but he didn’t come from another team. He came from nowhere. He didn’t sign with Arizona for the money. He excelled at every phase of the game except press conferences. He plowed through one of the most lopsided contracts in Major League Baseball history. Along the way, he made my oldest son care about baseball, opening his heart and mind to the idolatry that once marked America’s passion for a national pastime.

When Cameron Bickley was selected to be a Kidkaster for the Diamondbacks in 2015, one of the perks was a dugout interview with Goldschmidt. My son loaded his legal pad with questions. As the interview grew in length, bordering on inquisition, I watched team personnel glance at watches and fidget with fear.

Goldschmidt answered every query with full sincerity, not too big for the game, the fans, the moment or my kid.

You could say he was brand-aware, image-savvy or playing the local columnist. That’s would be wrong. He’s just a great dude.

And here’s the proof:

Given our recent luck, Valley fans could easily dread the thought of Goldschmidt reaching new heights in another uniform. It feels like karma gone wrong. We once poached Kurt Warner’s legend from St. Louis and rightfully claimed him as our own. To this day, we take great pride in knowing he is mostly ours and not theirs.

St. Louis might one day feel the same about Goldschmidt. His wholesome personality and temperament are tailor-made for one of the last great baseball cities on the planet. He might become their next Stan Musial or the National League’s starting first baseman in the 2019 All-Star Game. Either way, there will be no hard feelings.

We will share in his good fortune. We will be happy for Goldschmidt because he represents the best of us. He never asked for more money. He never asked to leave. He made it easy to be a Diamondbacks fan.

As for the trade?

Time will tell. By most accounts, the Diamondbacks received a decent haul in return for Goldschmidt, who has one year left on his contract and coming off consecutive September swoons. The team received four prospects in total, including a front-line catcher and a pitcher with real promise. The rest is just a guess, and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar.

But I trust Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen, the man who just pulled the plug on a Valley icon. It was a terrible call, the right call and the only play for a team that can’t get sideways with another untenable contract.

Hazen inherited this inevitable outcome when he signed on with Arizona, the kind of guy who won’t be swayed by sentiment or crowd favorites. He is also a gifted executive hired to fulfill his destiny and ours. To put away the duct tape and build a great team from scratch.

That moment has arrived. Along with a painful goodbye.

The kind that gets stuck in your throat.

Penguin Air

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