Steven Souza Jr. is out for an extended period of time. Zack Greinke suffered a setback and now Patrick Corbin is starting Opening Day. Paul Goldschmidt was hit in the head with a pitch in a minor league spring training game. This front office needs to begin an investigation. Someone drank Jobu’s rum. And we all know, ‘It’s very bad to steal Jobu’s rum. Is very bad.’
Things aren’t going well for this team. That makes the first month of the season that much more important. It’d be very easy for a few balls to bounce the wrong way, someone to twist an ankle, and the resolve of the team to fade away.
Let’s look at 2014 as a case study for the importance of April. Coincidentally, Patrick Corbin was supposed to start Opening Day that year, but couldn’t due to injury. The D-backs started 0-3 after a bizarre few days in Australia, including the team bus breaking down half a mile from the stadium before game one. However, the true damage happened in April. The team won their home opener, but won only eight more games in a month that included a six game losing streak and three four game losing streaks. However, they did win three in a row. “We won a game yesterday, if we win one today that’s two in a row. If we win one tomorrow that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before. SO LET’S SEE SOME HUSTLE! SO LET’S JACK IT UP A LITTLE!” Kirk Gibson said on April 24th, possibly, but probably not.
Now it’s really easy to say that there simply wasn’t enough talent on the roster to compete. However, for the months of May, June and July, the D-backs had a 40-39 record. That was actually better than the 81-81 baseball we’d come to not love yet expect from the snakes for the two years prior. There was plenty of grit to go around on that roster. Except for Cody Ross. Forget Cody Ross. He had negative grit.
The comparison between teams is a little far fetched. This year’s rotation is lightyears away from the Wade Miley-Josh Collmenter-Chase Anderson-Trevor Cahill- Brandon McCarthy/Bronson Arroyo rotation of 2014. Nearly every position has been upgraded; Paul Goldschmidt is older, wiser, and better. Mark Trumbo is nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, the misfortune is comparable, and the trap of disappointment is still there.
The biggest difference, despite the disparity in skill level, between the two rosters will be the leadership. There will be a fire under this team set by Archie Bradley. Zack Greinke may not be the prototypical veteran leader, but he’s a rock, and is going to give his team the chance to win every fifth day. His catcher, Jeff Mathis, won three consecutive division pennants with the Angels from ’07-’09. Alex Avila was an All-Star and won five consecutive AL Central pennants with the Tigers. Daniel Descalso went to the World Series with the Cardinals in 2013. The Royals wouldn’t have had their string of Postseason runs if it weren’t for Jarrod Dyson’s steal of third base in the ninth inning of the 2014 AL Wildcard Game. This team has winners on it. And winners find a way.
Things aren’t going the D-backs way right now. But, Opening Day is on Thursday. And this team is good enough to overcome some misfortune. So hey, ‘up yer butt, Jobu.’