Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
By Josh Greene
Sadly, great stories don’t always come with ideal endings. The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks are proof of that.
The team that many said had no shot this season gave it their best one en route to winning 94 games and the National League Western Division title. While that was obviously a more-than-surprising (and welcome) turn of events, what transpired less than 18 hours after their season ended in Milwaukee with decisive Game 5 of the NLDS was even more so.
Regardless of the sport, post-elimination locker cleanouts usually have all the understandable enthusiasm of a wake. A season’s rigorous, daily routine is abruptly pared down to some goodbye handshakes and the screech of packing-tape guns to seal up soon-to-be-mailed boxes of personal mementos.
But there was a more prevalent happening in the D-backs’ clubhouse Saturday. There was optimism. A wave of it enveloped the overall finality of the situation, giving off not an eagerness to race into the offseason, but instead an eagerness to race into next season.
Inevitably with this game, some of the faces that made 2011 a success for the D-backs could give way to a few new ones come Opening Day 2012, but the building blocks are there, and knowing Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers, construction for next year has already begun.
One of the few downsides heading into next season is that there will be no flying under the radar for this team, especially coming off this year’s accomplishments. With a proven 20-game winner on the mound, a revitalized bullpen, All-Star-worthy talent and a never-say-die attitude up and down the roster, the rest of the National League will already know full well what the D-backs are capable of on the field. The big question is whether those other teams will be able to do anything about it.