Improbable D-backs just know how to win
Originally Published: October 6, 2007By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
CHICAGO -- They defy the numbers. They defy the experts. They practically defy logic itself.But that's the beauty of those improbable Arizona Diamondbacks. They're a reminder to all of us that there are no magic formulas in this game they play.
I mean, I don't blame the number-crunchers, the computer geeks, for not being able to come up with a formula for how we got here. But there's a lot more that goes into sports than numbers.
--Arizona outfielder Eric Byrnes
The ride wasn't always real smooth. By May 5, this team already had ripped off two six-game winning streaks -- but also two five-game losing streaks. Another hot streak got the Diamondbacks to 12 games over .500 in early June. But then came a messy 4-13 stretch, wrapped around the All-Star break, that dropped them to 50-48 in mid-July. And the front office now admits it was on the verge of selling at the trading deadline. But then, just in time, 25 light bulbs went on. Since July 20, counting this division series, the Diamondbacks have gone 43-24. And now, who knows what they are capable of? "This team," GM Josh Byrnes said, "is growing up." Byrnes can crunch numbers with any GM in baseball. You won't hear him telling anybody it's time to take all our old, conventional ways of looking at baseball and set them on fire, just because this team won in about as unorthodox a way as any team in modern times. "In spring training," Byrnes said, "we actually put forth a lot of information, just internally, that this roster composition can win. And internally, we believed in it the whole way. And as the season went along, it proved that as the games got more important, a lot of these players just kept getting better." Which brings us to right here, right now -- when you look around the field, you can see a whole lot of dazzling pieces fitting together: You see Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds putting on a show on the left side of the infield ... Justin Upton and Chris Young tracking down every fly ball that doesn't come down in New Mexico ... Brandon Webb showing why he won that Cy Young last year ... And the least-known great bullpen in baseball doing its thing night after night. So if you measure these D-backs just by their raw data, boy, do they confound you. But when you watch this team with your own eyes, you understand why it wins. It was built to win. Just not this year. "A lot of people said this was our rebuilding year," Young said. "But we're a great team right now."
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesThe Diamondbacks always thought they were assembling a championship-caliber club, but one that was built more for next year instead of this one.
I know that a lot of guys play 20 years and don't ever get this chance to do what we're doing right now. And a lot of us in here are in our first season, so we appreciate what we have. ... We proved in this series that this is our time.
--Arizona outfielder Chris Young
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