Bickley: It’s a time for mourning and a time for grief for the Diamondbacks. The good kind.
Nov 1, 2023, 9:26 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2023, 7:40 am
(Photo by Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)
The dream has died. The parade must wait. Baseball season is over.
Be honest. Isn’t that what we’re all feeling?
Yes, there is sadness and anger after a 5-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 5 of the World Series. It’s never easy to say goodbye, and this was a premature funeral for a friend.
But there is also gratitude and hope. The Diamondbacks’ amazing romp through the postseason represents the beginning of a new era in Arizona, along with a wonderful new bond between the Valley and our baseball team.
Yes, this brand of grief comes with a lot of good. Heaping helpings of good. So, grab some instruments. It’s time to understand the scope of the 2023 Diamondbacks.
By telescope, they are a franchise burning bright, a new star in the baseball constellation.
Under a microscope, they were the perfect blend of youthful audacity and veteran spice, spawning one of the most unlikely experiences in our sporting history.
Use a stethoscope, and you’ll hear a team that has captured the Valley’s heart. Even if their own pulse has faded for good.
“It’s like your favorite rollercoaster,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “You never want to get off of.”
When Lovullo entered the interview room, he immediately noticed his family seated in the back. He was overcome with emotion. It was a touching, beautiful scene. And the pain was very real.
Torey Lovullo choked up as he issued an apology to the Arizona Diamondbacks fan base following the team's World Series loss to the Texas Rangers: pic.twitter.com/zIy3bBkq8m
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) November 2, 2023
Lovullo was asked how long it would take to absorb this defeat.
“Man, that’s a good question,” Lovullo said. “I want to run away and hide for a few days. I want to go camping and just sit in the tent and suck my thumb and eat ice cream. Is that the weirdest answer you guys have ever had?”
Actually, it’s the best answer ever.
History will show the Diamondbacks lost three games in three nights before three sellout crowds at Chase Field. They join the 1992-93 Suns, who made the NBA Finals and lost all three games staged in downtown Phoenix. That’s disappointing. That’s not how you treat the paying customers.
But the 2023 scrapbook is full of indelible memories. The postseason will be remembered for Lovullo’s party vibe. For administering the worst playoff beating of Clayton Kershaw’s career. For sweeping the dreaded Dodgers. For Alek Thomas’ dramatic home run. For rallying to win two road games in the hostile hotbox of South Philly, where no other team tasted victory.
There was the steely, sturdy star power of Merrill Kelly. There was the emergence of Brandon Pfaadt and other young players who will grow enormously from this experience. And there was the bounce-back performance from Zac Gallen on Wednesday, the team’s designated ace who found his dominant self on the brink of elimination. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, elevating his game to meet the moment.
Alas, the Diamondbacks offense gave him very little in return, allowing the Rangers to win their 11th consecutive road game and capture the first World Series title in franchise history.
The future is never guaranteed. As Valley fans can attest, many promising teams flame out in their encore and never return to the mountaintop.
But the Diamondbacks are different. Their young talent is undeniable, and there’s plenty more in the pipeline. Their leadership is outstanding, and I wouldn’t trade Lovullo and Mike Hazen for any other manager/GM combination in baseball. And now comes a time for majority owner Ken Kendrick to upgrade this team with serious financial reinforcements: another starting pitcher, a third baseman, maybe another power bat.
Wait ‘till next year?
Absolutely. Until then, it’s a time for mourning and a time for grief. The good kind.
“I want to hurt,” Lovullo said. “I want to remember what it feels like because I never want to feel this way again.”
Reach Bickley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.