As an Arizona sports fan, I've been through many disappointing playoffs losses over the years. The Cardinals almost winning the Super Bowl. The Suns in the NBA Finals and multiple playoffs exits. There have many painful losses for teams we hoped and expected would do better.
This 2011 Diamondbacks NLDS series loss feels different. Instead of being bitter or intensely disappointment, I am calm and and mostly just thankful for the incredible season.
This team was supposed to be deep in transition with some prospects coming in later years but not much hope in the short-term.
The only expectation for the mix of forgotten veterans and unproven youngsters was improvement. We wanted to see a changed culture and more fight and perhaps 10 or so more wins. At best, a .500 season might have been possible if many things went right.
But while lowered expectations might have been the rule from outside the clubhouse, Kirk Gibson only knows how to win and his players responded. In changing the culture he managed to tap into reserves that no one knew guys like Willie Bloomquist still had and found ways to get the best out of young players like Paul Goldschmidt and Josh Collmenter.
Teams are more than the names on the uniforms. Each season a new team is formed and this year's Diamondbacks were one of the best we've had in Arizona for many years.
Those of us that got to watch this team all summer are the real winners. We were treated to exciting baseball from a team that was almost never out of a game. 48 times they rallied for wins with a long list of memorable moments.
It's unfortunate their magical run couldn't continue but there's only joy in what they gave us and hope for a bright future to come. With many young pitching prospects on the horizon, Spring Training can't start soon enough.
Thank you, Derrick Hall, Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson for creating this team and thank you to all the players who made this summer one to remember.