This picture shows the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. They were the quickest expansion team ever to win a title, doing so in only their 4th year of existence.
It was a club that had an eventual Hall of Famer (Randy Johnson) and maybe an eventual one (Curt Schilling.)
One thing they also had was a signature franchise moment. Think about that for a second. When I say “Arizona Diamondbacks”, chances are the thing you think of is Luis Gonzalez jumping up and down and Arizona winning one of the greatest and most emotional World Series in the history of baseball.
The Arizona Diamondbacks participated and won a moment that transcended sport. It became a touchstone of American history. It became an event that lifted the spirits of a nation that emotionally had their guts ripped out.
There’s not a lot of reason to rehash the drama of the 2001 World Series and what it meant culturally. I fought those emotions initially. I was living in New York City, volunteered for the Red Cross and was in Manhattan on the day the planes hit. I was emotionally wrapped up in it. But I could not root for the Yankees. The whole notion of rooting for the Yankees, even in the wake of what happened, went against my thinking.
I rooted for the A’s in the Division Series, the 116 win Mariners in the ALCS and the Diamondbacks in the World Series while living in New York.
In retrospect, I was kind of a dick about it. For some people who DIDN’T have decades of pent up Red Sox fandom frustration, a Yankees win DID have added significance. I realized that in the wake of the 2013 Boston Strong title. I apologize to anyone I was a dick to back in 2001.
But right there lies one of the strange issues regarding the Diamondbacks and the 2001 World Series. They won the World Series. It was a classic. If the games played out exactly the way they did without any context of September 11th, it would still be an All Time World Series.
But the Diamondbacks were never the story. Hell, they weren’t the reason I was rooting for them. I would have rooted for a team of my ex girlfriends against the Yankees. They happened to be the team that the Yankees, symbolizing the heart of New Yorkers, happened to have played.
Would the 2001 World Series be as monumental an event had the Diamondbacks played the 116 win Seattle Mariners? Would the distance of the two western regions of Arizona and Washington state, physically so far from New York, have made the World Series an anti climax?
And do people think of the Diamondbacks as the team that won the 2001 World Series or do people mainly think of how the Yankees came so close to winning and fell 2 outs short.
I suppose we will never know. But that World Series was the moment for this franchise. There are many franchises that don’t have that moment. What is the Brewers’ signature moment? The Padres? Do the White Sox have one? Other than Field of Dreams?
Arizona does. Part of it was timing, but isn’t that true in so many aspects of life?