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Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Franchise
The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team was born in the late 1990’s when they and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (they have since dropped the ‘Devil’ from their name) made their debut in Major League Baseball. MLB went through two separate expansions in the 1990’s adding teams in Arizona, Colorado, and two in Florida.
It was only fitting that baseball have a professional team in Arizona since the state plays such an important role in Spring Training every year.
When Spring Training comes around teams report to one of two locations; the cactus league is in Arizona and the grapefruit league is in Florida. Geographic location basically dictates which facility your franchise uses but the teams in the Midwest can kind of go either way, since they are about in the middle of both states anyway.
Even though the Diamondbacks are one of the youngest franchises in MLB history they have already made a mark on the game. They have won five division titles (1999, 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2011) in the National League West and have a World Series title as well.
In addition to being successful on the field they also play in one of the better facilities in the game; it has also been recently selected by Major League Baseball to host the All-Star Game back in 2011.
Chase Field is a baseball only venue that features a retractable roof, pretty nice feature for those 120+ degrees summer days in Phoenix. The stadium was originally called the Bank One Ballpark (aka The BOB) when it was originally opened back in 1998; it kept this name until 2005 when it became Chase Field.
I was actually in school in Phoenix when the stadium was being built. Even though I didn’t have the need to drive near the construction site I could still see it in the distance from the nearby freeways.
For those casual fans you might have seen this field on the highlights once or twice since it has a rather unique amenity for fans. Beyond the right center field fence sits a swimming pool and occasionally it comes into play when fans are going for home run balls. Since the pool isn’t that far away from the fence hitters have been able to deposit balls into the pool.
In my opinion it is a great way to watch a game in Arizona. Pools are highly common anyway so why not sit in one while you take in the game? You might even get to dive for a baseball!
Favorite Baseball Team
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Major League World Series
The franchises one and only World Series title was won back in 2001. The team itself was very talented and had a couple of players that have the credentials to make them serious Hall of Fame candidates when their eligibility comes up.
What made their championship run so interesting to watch is because it was their first real voyage into the MLB postseason. The team had only one previous taste of the postseason and that was two years prior. Even though the roster still had some veteran players they had plenty of less seasoned players as well who didn’t know what to expect in the higher pressure postseason.
To further stack the deck against the Diamondbacks was their World Series opponent, one of the most successful teams in the game, the New York Yankees. With Arizona entering the contest possessing a goose egg in the championship column, the Yankees had twenty-six championships at the time; in terms of franchise history this was a baseball version of David and Goliath.
I remember watching a few games and hoping this little Arizona franchise could get the job done. The Yankees were up to the challenge though and the Series went the full seven games. I can also recall Arizona’s two workhorses on the mound Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling gutting it out on the mound and throwing as many innings as their arms would allow.
Fast forwarding to the end of game seven the Yankees had the best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, on the hill pitching to the undersized power hitter from Arizona, Luis Gonzalez. For those that don’t know Rivera, he basically only throws one pitch but it is devastating. Rivera’s cut fast ball has sent many bats to the kindling pile with its late movement.
Gonzalez was trying to get a base hit to score the winning run from second base, not an easy task against the best closer in the game. Gonzalez managed to get a pitch he could get just enough wood on and he flared it into shallow left center field, it was enough to get the runner home to score the game winning run.
National Baseball Hall of Fame
Even though the team is young in years when compared to some of the other franchises that have been around for over one hundred years it still has had some very good players come through. The biggest name is probably Johnson who is a first year Hall of Fame guy once his name appears on the ballot. Schilling is more on the fence about making it to Cooperstown, same for Gonzalez.