The Arizona Diamondbacks have not seen many things go their way in the 2004 season. The fortunes of baseball have taken their toll on the team that won the 2001 World Series almost in their infancy.
That 2001 team had two of the best pitchers in the game. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling won over 50 games between them by the time the regular season, play-offs and World Series were over. They were both 20 game winners in the regular season and finished first and second in strike-outs in the National League. Pitcher Miguel Batista was also very effective in both the regular season and the play-offs. Other pitchers, notably Robert Ellis, performed above anything they had ever done before in that memorable season.
Luis Gonzalez posted career numbers with over 50 home runs. Other Diamondbacks enjoyed similar unprecedented success. The team even got clutch pinch-hitting from David DeLucci, Greg Colbrunn and Erubriel Durazo. Craig Counsell turned injuries into pluses as he filled in and started at short, second and third and excelled wherever he played.
Tony Womack enjoyed a story book season that included the game winning hit it the play-off series with the Cardinals and the key hit in the seventh game victory over the Yankees that gave Arizona the title.
Johnson is still among the best pitchers in baseball and leads the D-Backs in wins and the league in strike-outs. Schilling is also leading a league in wins, but it is the American League as he is now starring with the Boston Red Sox. Batista has been hot for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Womack is now with the Cardinals. Counsell is with the Milwaukee Brewers and Durazo is toiling in Oakland.
The trades that sent these players packing have not had many positive results for the Diamondbacks. It would be hard to argue that Oakland did not get the best of a deal that was essentially Durazo for pitcher Elmer Dessens. Schilling has made the deal the Red Sox made for him look like a steal.
Of course, the season-ending injury to first baseman Richie Sexton who came in a block-buster deal with Milwaukee was the worst break of all. Sexton may well have been worth Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Junior Spivey, Chad Moeller and a pitcher had he remained healthy. He didn’t and that deal may now rank with Seward’s purchase of Alaska.
The most recent development in what appears to be the Diamondbacks’ “Summer of Discontent” was the firing of manager Bob Brenly. Brenly took the rap for a team that was not playing good baseball and deals that helped the other team far more than they did Arizona.
The Diamondbacks are a quality organization from the top (Jerry Colangelo) to the people who sweep out the stadium. We should and I will remain loyal to this team. A return to the World Series is not likely this season and may be in the very distant future. Arizona fans probably don’t realize how rare those are, especially for a team not blesses with a huge television market and a mega-rich owner who can buy the best players in the world.
Good luck is wished to the Diamondbacks, Brenly, Schilling, Womack, Counsell and all of the others who brought us the 2001 World Championship and memories for a life time.