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The Diamondbacks Might Be Bad Enough To Deserve Your Awe

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: Josh Rojas #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks reacts to second base umpire Brian O'Nora #7 after he was called out trying to steal second base against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on July 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A disturbing trend was beginning to reveal itself in the final week before the Ohtani Break, in that the Arizona Diamondbacks were winning games in multiples of more than one. Well, more than zero, really, but they did beat the 2021 Colorado Rockies, Comrade Roth’s new second favorite team, in two out of three games this past week and showed signs of looking like the one thing we were sure they could never be:

A 50-win team.

Fortunately for our sick entertainment, gravity’s a hateful old schoolmarm, and las Serpientes rallied to remind us who and what they are, and in doing so to chastise us for expending so much energy on the merely bad Ottawa Senators this past hockey season. They went to Los Angeles to play the pitcher-less Dodgers and after a very worrisome 5-2 win on Friday in which the victorious pitcher was a Guy who seemed to be named for a vaguely fringe conservative religious cult named Brett deGeus, they came back with their usual reptilian vengeance, losing Saturday, 22-1, and Sunday, 7-4, by giving up three runs in the eighth and three in the ninth. If you’re giving up four touchdowns over a single weekend, you’re serious about this.

In other words, they’re back, with what deejays of the 1950s used to call “a bullet.” By course-correcting violently here at the end, they are now the spectacular losers of 53 of their last 64 games (a .172 winning percentage) and of 66 of their first 92 (a much more respectable .283). They are no longer playing at the pace of the inspiring 1962 New York Mets (Roth’s first favorite team), in which the expansion Metropolitans lost three out of every four games for an entire season, so they’ll have to press the pace by losing 57 of their final 70 games to finish a proud 39-123 and the third-worst team in baseball history, a fitting tribute to the Manfredian era.

The Diamondbacks have been a much under-discussed failure this year, their five-win May followed with a three-win June as part of a staggering capitulation-in-bulk that has them 40 games under .500 today. Why the nation has not seized upon this serial of woe is a tribute to the things baseball has forced upon us to hide the Diamondbacks in plain sight. Owner Ken Kendrick owes his team’s anonymity to Shohei Ohtani and the No-Hitter-A-Week Club.

But this cannot be allowed to continue. The Diamondbacks are a gift to be savored—not because they are necessarily evil or historic incompetents or even because Kendrick is a worse owner than most others (he is more or less in a hundred-way tie for first)—but because this devotion to duty must be celebrated. Anyone can galumph about like the Pirates or Rangers or Tigers or even the Rockies; threatening those Mets is another level entirely. True, they won’t have two 20-game losers like the Mets did, and they’ll have to work harder than they have to date to get that ERA+ below 70 like the 1915 A’s, and they’ve only used four position players as pitchers this year so getting Willians Astudillo from the Twins might seem in order.

Still, we believe they can continue not to persevere. In the face of very whelming odds, they can maintain their lack of diligence and even enhance it, to the point of turning up at the wrong stadium. They have 70 games left to make this an enduring memory rather than just another tepid homage to the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who went 43-119 and within three years got to a World Series, the spoilsports.

Plus, they’re losing ground in intersport competition even though it’s the All-Star Break; the Senators just signed Pierre McGuire. If you want to set a new bar for deterioration—if you want Defector to hold Diamondbacks Week next spring—you’re going to have to go hard to beat that.