With spring training wrapping up and an important season on the horizon, the Arizona Diamondbacks are ready to bounce back on the field and in the hearts of fans.
It’s apparent that, with the crop of new players as well as the coaching and organizational changes, last season is in the rearview mirror.
“I really didn’t know where we’d be,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “I know our goal was to come down here and work on a lot of things which we’ve done. We’re capable of executing much better.”
The beginning of a new season for any sports team, though, brings expectations. Put that team in Arizona and there’s a good chance those expectations begin high, but face the danger of dropping at any hint of disappointment or heartbreak.
Not too long ago the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Suns went through the same treatment. Fans across the state were excited for their respective seasons, only to have their optimism be short-lived.
Even with Derek Anderson starting and two rookie backups at the quarterback position, the Cardinals began the 2010 season 3-2. They had the look of a team that may have been able to sneak into the playoffs as a division “winner.” However, a timely seven game losing streak out of their bye week killed any hopes of that.
Over on the hardwood, even after surrounding an aging Steve Nash with completely dependent players and hanging around the .500 mark for far too long, the final Western Conference playoff spot never truly seemed out of the question for the Suns.
Nine losses in March when it counted most likely sealed their lottery-bound fate.
Now it’s the D-backs’ turn and Gibson knows it.
“I’m sure people are doubting what we’re capable of but we’ll keep pushing ahead,” Gibson said. “I’m certainly not one of those people.”
The club is just days away from their first game of the season and they’re the lone Arizona team sitting in the hot seat.
While the present tense can be used for the Suns for only two more weeks, being in that position hasn’t gone well for them and it didn’t go well for the Cardinals.
So where does that leave the D-backs?
They need to make an impact from the very beginning to have a shot at winning the broken hearts of Arizona fans. They need to pick up the pieces starting with Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
“I think we’re ahead of where we were when we started the spring,” Gibson said. “[But] we’ll find out in short order.”
Optimism will be there and rightfully so, but the D-backs need to remember how easy it is to lose support in this state.
At least Gibson’s confidence is showing. That’s a start.