Sports in the desert is a relatively new idea in the grand scheme of sports history. The Phoenix Suns are able to claim being the oldest(founded in 1968), followed by the transplanted Cardinals(1988) and Coyotes(1996). That leaves the Diamondbacks, the baby of the group. Jerry Colangelo, then owner of the Suns, brought baseball to the valley twenty years ago. Today we compare the roster, logo, uniform and season that the 1998 D-Backs had vs. the 2017 squad.
The team in 1998 had none of the stars we know from the 2001 World Series. Luis Gonzalez had yet to be traded from the Tigers. Randy Johnson was taking a brief break from being a stud on the Mariners to being a little bit less of a stud on the Astros. We had none of the dominant players we all know. Instead, we had these guys:
Needless to say, this roster didn’t pan out too well and the Diamondbacks ended up placing last in the division, 33 games behind the NL West Champion San Diego Padres. As time went on, a few of these starters were part of trades for big names, and that eventually led to a World Series win in 2001. So I’d like to thank these starters, for being good enough to be traded.
Another thing many Diamondback fans are thankful for is the color scheme and logo. From 1998 to 2006, the D-Backs sported a primarily purple scheme with green as a secondary color. It is regarded in the fanbase as the best version of the logo, and the jerseys that go along with it. The Diamondbacks get a lot of flak for the current jerseys, which is deserved, and is probably a good reason the old school colors are so beloved. And the fact that we won the big game in them helps as well.
The Diamondbacks have aged pretty well. Star power came and went and numbers were retired. 51 and 20 are now hanging up in Chase Field. A new offensive threat has arrived in the form of the 2017 Diamondbacks, who are coming off a hot and unexpected season after a 69-93 run in 2016. Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, and David Peralta led the team to a flashy 54-39 record, second in the NL West behind the ridiculous Los Angeles Dodgers.
Then came the big trade. JD Martinez arrived and hit 29 HRs in 62 games. Martinez was the savior in a time where Lamb and Goldy were on a downswing. Hitting four home runs and crushing the Dodgers on the same night made Just Dingers Martinez an instant fan favorite. With a powerful lineup of bats and a bendable but not breakable bullpen, the D-Backs managed to lock up home field advantage in the wildcard game against the Rockies. The game in which we managed to let the lead slip multiple times but pulled out an incredible win thanks to Archie Bradley’s out of nowhere 2-run triple. Things ended badly, though, when neither side of the ball could get anything going against the Dodgers in the NLDS. The bats were cold, the pitching was off, and the Dodgers managed to sweep the Diamondbacks 3 games to none.
Now in 2017, the Diamondbacks rock the red and black, matching the Coyotes and Cardinals. The purple throwback is used exclusively on Thursday games, and the current uniforms have certainly evolved into something. I’ll keep it short and say that hopefully there are ideas being worked on behind closed doors and that we won’t have to use what are largely considered the worst uniforms in the league.
A lot has changed in 20 years. In Phoenix there are typically a lot of transplant fans who still rep their teams, but the Diamondbacks feel like the one organization that has been able to break the mold and really turn into something this city can be proud of. In 2001 the streets were electric, and hopefully in 2018 we can recapture that feeling and bring home the second ever championship to Arizona.
Travis Lee Photo Credit: John Cordes/Icon SMI
2017 Team Photo Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports