I cannot take full credit for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ journey to the World Series. However, I may have played a role in their success.
In recent years, I have written favorable articles about the Diamondbacks in the first half of the season, only to witness their subsequent downfall. This became an inside joke with general manager Mike Hazen, who begged me not to jinx his team.
On June 1, when the Diamondbacks were trailing the Dodgers by half a game in the NL West with a record of 33-23, I sent Hazen a text saying, “Warning: It would be professionally irresponsible to ignore your club at this point.”
Hazen replied, presumably sensing a detailed analysis of his team’s turnaround, “Please don’t. The Reds are the hot team.”
Was Hazen overreacting? Certainly not! It’s highly unlikely for a high-ranking executive to be overly sensitive to the opinions of a trustworthy member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
My analysis in June 2019, praising the Diamondbacks for their refusal to give up, did not bring them bad luck. The team finished with an 85-77 record and even used their top draft pick on outfielder Corbin Carroll, who might become the National League Rookie of the Year.
However, my article from late April 2021 was another story. I described the Diamondbacks as a possible playoff contender – a prediction that proved to be quite off. They ended up losing a staggering 110 games. Oops!
Although Arizona improved by 22 wins last season, finishing at 74-88, it was not an impressive performance worthy of my accolades. This season, the team became far more intriguing. In June, Jayson Stark wrote about how the Diamondbacks were capitalizing on Major League Baseball’s new rules and surprising everyone. However, to avoid any potential jinx, I mostly refrained from writing about them until teaming up with Will Sammon to feature outfielder Tommy Pham, a deadline acquisition, in early September.
Around that time, as the Diamondbacks remained in playoff contention, Hazen and I playfully discussed the idea of him publicly apologizing to me. Why? Because he believed that he had deprived fans everywhere of my enlightening work by discouraging my coverage of his club.
I assured Hazen that no apology was necessary. However, on September 20, as the Diamondbacks closed in on 84 wins and a wild card spot, I sent him another text saying, “You know what? Upon reflection, a public apology may be in order.”
Hazen’s response? “Hahahaha.”
Hazen may have thought he had the last laugh, but as I cover the World Series for The Athletic and Fox Sports, I’ll have the final say. I would say the Diamondbacks should be concerned, but they’ve surpassed that stage. Whatever spell I had previously cast on them has evidently vanished.
David Rodriguez brings the excitement of Major League Baseball to readers. With a deep appreciation for America’s pastime, he covers the latest MLB news, scores, and player achievements, keeping fans up to date with their favorite teams and players.