There were a lot of cool things about the 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks run to the World Series, but I have a pretty strong opinion on what was the coolest.
It wasn’t taking care of business in Milwaukee. It wasn’t coming back from 0–2 against the Phillies and winning Game 7 at their place. It wasn’t Marte barreling up everything he saw, or four home runs in one inning. Honestly … it wasn’t even sweeping the Dodgers.
Those things were all amazing, don’t get me wrong.
If you ask me, the best thing about this run was the pure joy our fans got to experience. The looks on everyone’s faces, the energy around the city, the roar we’d hear at Chase when we were stringing hits together, or when Mert or Pfaadt or Ginkel needed to make a big pitch. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And it made me so proud to be a part of this organization, this city, this community. I won’t forget it as long as I live.
And now that I’ve had a few weeks to process it all, I just wanted to write something up here to let you guys know how much I appreciate it. I wanted to say thank you — from the bottom of my heart — for getting behind us like you did, and for showing us so much love.
We didn’t win it all obviously, and I hate that. But what we did do was still pretty f*****g sick. And it really felt like we did it together.
As for how it all happened … let me just say: It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish when no one expects anything from you.
It’s also very freeing.
Literally all year, no one expected anything from us. And so we just kind of went with it. We took things as they came. We start off on a 100-win pace, we’re leading the division. Then it’s like boom — we get in a funk and our three-game lead turns into being 12 games back. Not exactly how you write it up. Then it gets to nut-cuttin’ time, these “must-win” games in late September … and we end up losing pretty much all of them. You could kind of tell we were like, “Just let us get into the playoffs.” I think we knew we just had to survive September, and we did. Not by a lot, and we got some help — but whatever, that’s baseball. We did it.
When we finally clinched, it was just this feeling of total relief. And, after almost letting it slip away at the end, I’m positive no one on the outside thought we were a threat in the playoffs. So If we’d gone and lost two in Milwaukee, people would’ve been like: O.K., that was a nice run. Young team. They may be something next year. But for us? It was a completely different deal. It was like: Nobody expects us to do anything from here on out. Wouldn’t it be kind of sick if we just … f*** around and win a bunch of games? And then see what happens?
It definitely put us at ease. It was like: No one thinks we’re beating Milwaukee … let’s go punch them in the mouth. And then we did.
Then it’s, Oh s***, we gotta play against that All-Star team in L.A.? We have to go into Dodger Stadium? Let’s go punch them in the mouth too.
And we did that.
I gotta say, it’s one thing to say stuff like that and have it as a goal. But doing it — actually going out and doing it? It felt great. Especially the Dodgers. Because that’s a team that … well, to us … we consider them a rival. I don’t know if they’d say the same. But for us it’s like playing against your big brother.
And it feels really good to take your big brother down.
I remember, before Game 1, walking back to the dugout after team introductions, and I said to Torey, “They don’t think we f***ing belong here.” And Torey, he looks me in the eye, and he goes, “They don’t.”
Then we went out and scored six runs in the first.
After that, I think they knew we belonged.
We really were just playing free. And anytime you have a young group, the best scenario you can have is to play free. That’s when the talent can take over, because you’re not thinking about expectations or in terms of what you’re supposed to do.
Against Milwaukee, against L.A., against Philly … it was just like, If we lose, so what? It’s what everyone’s expecting anyway. So let’s go do our thing. Let’s play ’em out and see what happens.
And it was a blast.
Unfortunately, at the end, it just wasn’t meant to be. And after Game 5 against Texas, when it was sinking in that our run was finally over, I remember being in a really weird spot mentally and physically.
I’d given everything I had left in that game. I needed to. In the NLCS, and even in Game 1 of the World Series, I hadn’t pitched like I’d wanted. I hadn’t performed like my team needs me to when I take the ball. I hadn’t lived up to the standards I hold for myself. So I knew I had one more chance that night, and it was the highest stakes possible — do or die, win or go home. It’s the scenario every little leaguer dreams of. I remember in my head I was thinking, like: One start left. This is it.
And I had good stuff that night. I did my best. But wasn’t good enough. And honestly that’s a tough thing to swallow, especially when a World Series is on the line.
After the game, I really didn’t know how to be. There’s no way to prepare for how that feels, losing the World Series, especially in a game you started. It was all just kind of a blur. Everything overlapping. I was disappointed, and frustrated, and mad … but also grateful for my teammates, and for the run we went on, all at the same time.
I remember Torey coming in and talking to us.
“Hey guys, look. This is gonna sting. We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to. But there’s so much love in this clubhouse … and that’s what it’s all about. But that’s also what’s going to make it sting even more.”
He was totally right about that.
“Let it hurt,” he said. “Digest it. It’s necessary. It’s all part of the journey. If you don’t let yourself feel this, and then put it away, you’ll never be able to get over it and use it as motivation.”
I’m not a very emotional person. So I wasn’t sure how it was going to hit me in the days and weeks after that loss. But I’d be at home with my girlfriend and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’d find myself saying out loud, “Damn, I can’t believe we just lost the World Series.”
Stuff like that kept happening. I’m not even sure why, or where it came from. It probably happened for about a week. During that same time, though, I always tried really hard to focus on all the positives from the season, and what it all meant. Not just for myself and my teammates, but for our fans, and for the city.
And I have to say, this loss, the pain, it’s been a lot easier to deal with because of all the fans coming up and telling me how much fun this was, or thanking us for the ride and for the memories. It really helps you process everything. It’s like: We still did something incredibly cool. Something that mattered to a lot of people, and got them excited about baseball in this city, and made them proud. That’s a special thing to have been a part of.
Now, though, it’s time to turn the page. It’s on to next year — and to even bigger things.
What I’m looking forward to the most? How I know our fans, just like us, are going to be back with a vengeance. And they’re going to be along for the ride from Day One.
I can’t wait to experience that.
Before this year, ever since I arrived in 2019, there hasn’t been much for people to cheer about. And that’s on us. We didn’t play up to our potential, and our fans weren’t happy about it. Rightfully so. I wouldn’t have been happy either as a fan.
But that was a different time. And we’re never going back to it.
It’s a whole new era of D’backs baseball, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t wait to see where things go next.
See you all in March!