On the first day of spring training, February 13, 2011, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said this team could win the division and skipper Kirk Gibson talked about the 'Diamondback Way' while being as vague as possible on what that actually means. Seven months later, the D-backs have a stranglehold on the NL West and are talking about going "all the way".
And Kirk Gibson? He's still talking around the 'Diamondback Way', saying as little as possible while understandably wanting the world to know how much his team has accomplished in such a short period of time.
"I'm not going to define this, but we talked about the 'Diamondback Way' early in spring...This team is into the 'Diamondback Way'. The way we play, the way we prepare, the way we pull for each other, the way we play for each other," Gibson said before his team's 144th game of the season.
What exactly is the 'Diamondback Way'? Is it written down anywhere as you might expect from a meticulous man like Kirk Gibson or is it an undefined culture that just is?
"You're going to have to ask Gibby about that," rookie Paul Goldschmidt said. "As far as me, I just show up. We've got a lot of guys on this team who play the game the right way."
The exact description of the 'Diamondback Way' might remain a closely guarded team secret, but the results speak for themselves. There's no way you can look at this team with its mix of vets, young players and highly respected coaches and think that what's happened in 2011 is a coincidence.
Solid pitching. Two very good relievers. Good defense up the middle. One monster hitter. All that is obvious. But the 'Diamondback Way' is all the extra little stuff that we don't see that turns into that extra hit or extra out and all those many extra wins over and above what anyone could have predicted in February (except for Kevin Towers).
Where does this team go from here?
According to the guy who won two World Series rings and hit the biggest home run in the history of the game (or something close to it), they...could...go...all...the...way.
"We remain determined on our goals. We're not just going to try and gain a playoff berth and let our guard down," Gibson said with a perfectly straight face (as if he had another one).
"We're after home field advantage if we can get that, then beyond. All the way."
Go ahead and doubt this guy if you want. He's used to it. He embraces it.
"We understand we'll be the underdog if we get in there. That's fine. That's right where we want to be. I've been on several teams like that."
Yes, yes you have, sir.