Franchise Record: (through 2017) 1,596-1,644 (.493)
Post Season Record: 15-19 (.441)
World Series Titles: 1 (2001)
National League Pennants: 1 (2001)
Ballpark: Chase Field (Mar. 31, 1998-Present)(48,569)
The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the two most recent expansion teams, starting play in 1998 alongside the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (see Expansion of 1998). A name-the-team contest was held, sponsored by the Arizona Republic newspaper, with the choices being the eventual winners the Diamondbacks as well as the Coyotes, Rattlers, Scorpions and Phoenix. The team hired Buck Showalter as its first manager shortly after the 1995 playoffs. His first coaching staff included three of his former coaches with the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks' first game was on March 31, 1998 at Bank One Ballpark, with the first pitch being thrown by Andy Benes. Travis Lee collected the team's first hit and first home run, but the D-Backs lost, 9-2, to the Colorado Rockies. They finished in last place in their division in their first season, but in 1999, after signing free agent pitcher Randy Johnson, the club was greatly improved. Johnson won the Cy Young Award, and the Diamondbacks won 100 games and their first division title, but bowed out in the first round of the postseason, losing to the New York Mets in the NLDS. Still, that set a record for the shortest time for an expansion team to reach the postseason, and it marked the start of a great run by the team.
During the 2000 season, they further strengthened their pitching staff when they sent four players to the Philadelphia Phillies for Curt Schilling. They missed the postseason that year, finishing 3rd in the NL West, but in 2001, powered by their Johnson-Schilling pitching tandem (each of whom won more than 20 games) and slugging outfielder Luis Gonzalez (who hit 57 home runs), Arizona won the National League pennant. They then went on to win the franchise's first World Series over the Yankees in one of the greatest seven-game series in sports history. They returned to the postseason in 2002 after a 98-win season, but after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series, the team fell on hard times.
In 2004, manager Bob Brenly, who had led the team to a win in the World Series only three years earlier, was fired midway through the season as Arizona reached bottom, losing 111 games. Bob Melvin took over as manager in 2005 and began to bring the team back to respectability, culminating in a division title in 2007, a season in which they even managed to post the best record in the league. They then swept the Chicago Cubs in the Division Series, before being swept in turn by the Colorado Rockies, who were on a historic winning streak, in the NLCS. The team was full of good young players including Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin and Brandon Webb, all 25 and under, not to mention 19-year-old Justin Upton. That team looked ready to become a force, but it did not develop as anticipated. After a dominating month of April in 2008, they managed to stay in first place until the first week of September in spite of barely staying above .500 and then finished in 2nd place at 82-80 in what was a very disappointing year. After a poor start in 2009, Melvin was fired less than 30 games into the season and replaced by the inexperienced A.J. Hinch, who moved over from the player development side. The season finished with the D-Backs in last place, and it was back to square one.
Hinch only stayed in place until the middle of the 2010 season, which resulted in another last-place finish, before being replaced by Kirk Gibson. The hero of the 1988 World Series managed to light a fire under the team in 2011, when, out of nowhere, Arizona pulled off a first-place finish in the NL West. Drew, Young and Upton were still around, but a couple of younger names were now prominent, C Miguel Montero and 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who had made his debut in mid-year. In retrospect, though, the team was a bit of a flash in the pan, as it got unexpected solid years from players such as Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz, none of whom would be long-term contributors. They faced the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS and lost a tightly-played series in extra innings in Game 5.
The Diamondbacks fell back in the pack starting in 2012 with back-to-back .500 finishes. In 2014, however, the bottom fell out, as they ended up in last place with 98 losses and Gibson was let go in the final days of the season. This was part of major front office shake-up that saw Tony LaRussa take over as team president and Dave Stewart as General Manager, the two having known each other since the great Oakland Athletics dynasty of the late 1980s. The D-Backs improved significantly under first-year manager Chip Hale in 2015 as they climbed back to within 4 games of .500 and A.J. Pollock emerged as a second young star alongside Goldschmidt. They thought they were poised to make a run for the title in 2016, and went all in, trading four young players, including the number 1 overall pick from the 2015 amateur draft, SS Dansby Swanson, to obtain P Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves and signing P Zack Greinke as a free agent. They thought they had re-created the Johnson/Schilling tandem, but things went sour from the get-go, with injuries to key players, most notably Pollock, and poor results by both putative aces, including a 3-12 record from Miller, leading to a 69-93 record and a 4th-place finish. Both Stewart and Hale paid the price, while LaRussa's responsibilities were diminished.
The Diamondbacks have played their home games at Chase Field, the name by which the former Bank One Ballpark has been known starting in 2006, since their inception. The ballpark, which remains property of the local Maricopa County government, began to suffer from premature decay in the early 2010s, while the team's lease on the facility runs to 2028. The multiplication of problems, especially those linked to burst heating and cooling pipes resulted in mutual accusations of neglect between the team and the county, with the county accusing the D-Backs of inflating the problems in order to pressure local authorities into building a new facility before the expiration of the current lease. The dispute was sent to arbitration in 2017, and for its part, the team has stated that Major League Baseball was not looking kindly on the lack of action by local authorities and could use the situation as a lever to move the team to another more favorable location.
Source and Further reading
- Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
- Rebekah L. Sanders: "Could MLB move Diamondbacks over stadium conditions? Team suggests 'yes'", "AZ Central", The Arizona Republic, August 1, 2017. 
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