Here at the advent of spring training, most writers and pundits firmly affix blinders and solely examine the variables directly in front.
That is, how is the pitching, what about the hitting, how will new faces fit on the playing field and in the clubhouse, how will new players adopt to a new team culture, and how will players respond to direction.
In the case of the Diamondbacks, the same questions and scenarios have been demonstrated since the completion of last season. Arizona finished with the worst record in baseball and, essentially the question remains, can this team recover from a disastrous past.
Improvement could then defined in quantifying terms, such as success to a particular level which is acceptable to the fans, management and the players.
Perhaps the most important dimension of spring training, and one overlooked by pundits, deals with the character of the Diamondbacks.
Commentators like to tie sports and psychology and relate and inter-relate the two. Here, the Diamondbacks, as players and management, confront the dimension of losing and how to shake its powerful grip.
After capturing the National League West Division in 2011, the franchise proceeded to reach no higher than .500 (at 81-81) for each of the following two seasons, and then dropped to 64-98 in 2014, the worst in the majors. That marked three consecutive years of non-winning seasons, and prompted Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer, to respond.
“I would be surprised and shocked if we don’t play at least .500 baseball (in 2015),” he said during the general managers’ meeting last November. “We are not a patient bunch.”
Frequently, athletes deal with failure but usually, the syndrome is temporary. For the Diamondbacks, this appears to be a trend and forecast for the future portends more of the same.
“Sports Psychology 101 is about process, not outcome,” Dr. Ted Butryn, an associate Professor of Sport Psychology at San Jose State University told Fight Magazine in 2010. “The successful guys talk a lot about what they learned from the loss.”
The improvement then is translated from learning into implementation.
So often in the past three years, the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse was quiet to just above a whisper. The life support monitor over there in the corner showed little or no movement and, little sense of energy was ditected.
While Martin Prado and Gerardo Parra were considered “lightning rods,” and fellow Venezuelan countryman Miguel Montero chimed in, that contiguous spirit and energy in the clubhouse was lost when Prado and Parra were traded in mid-season.
In an attempt to improve fortunes, general manager Dave Stewart brought in a new core to the starting rotation and other personnel changes. The presence of a renew spirit, purpose, emotion and drive will be characteristics which determine this Diamondbacks character this spring.
Since continued losing is not an option to La Russa, the shaker and mover of the baseball side of the franchise, the weeks ahead appear critical for the Diamondbacks if they are to pick themselves off the mat and regain a hard and competitive spirit.
DIAMONDBACKS TICKETS AVAILABLE
The Diamondbacks announced single game tickets go on sale Friday morning, 9 a. m. at the Chase Field box office.
Fans can also purchase tickets on-line at dbackscom/tickets or by phone at 602.514.8400.
The price range is $10 to $68. That depends on the day of the game and the series opponent. Lower level tickets start at $18 for bullpen reserve. All-You-Can-Eat seats start at $34 and include unlimited access to hot dogs chips, popcorn, peanuts, water and Pepsi soft drinks in a special section on the Diamond Level.
The Diamondbacks open their championship season against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on Monday April 6 at 7:10 p.m.
Among several promotions, the Diamondbacks offer Josh Collmenter bobble-head night on May 9, Fourth of July Fireworks on July 4 and Randy Johnson Hall of Fame bobble head on July 25.
For a full list of D-backs promotions and giveaways, visit dbacks.com/promos.