When the Colorado Rockies and Diamondbacks christened their new spring training facility in late February, the talk wasn't about the local team having a chance to be good, it was all about the re-tooled Rockies and the depth that they possessed that would guide them to their first-ever NL West championship.
Most predicted that Arizona would finish in fourth place, having improved their bullpen, but not making enough of a change to really gain too much ground.
What no one factored in was the most important element. Heart.
Guided by Kirk Gibson, a leader who manages the same way that he played, with energy and scrapiness, the D-Backs have played above their talent level, and with their recent winning streak, they are now sitting six games ahead of the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Arizona, no doubt has been energized by the Rockies essentially failing to show up.
The party was planned for this Colorado team to be celebrating their first NL West title way back in February, but the team forgot to make the necessary arrangements for that party to actually happen.
The Diamondbacks saw the opportunity to steal the show, and they have done exactly that. It looked like it was going to be a two-horse race between Arizona and San Francisco down to the wire, but right now the scene looks more like a Diamondback team that has a tight-fisted grip on the race and has no intention of loosening.
The disappointment for the Rockies is celebration for the Diamondbacks. The Rockies should take note. With far less talent than the Rockies, and certainly the Giants, Arizona doesn't give in to anyone. They find ways to move runners over, they make great defensive plays and their pitchers find ways to get guys out. They play with a confidence and a swagger that they have something to prove.
The Rockies went into the season thinking that changing one thing would instantly result in a division title. They thought that coming out of the gate strong would solve their issues. As soon as they got over the April hump, they looked as if they thought they could put it on cruise control and win enough games.
Instead, the other teams in the division didn't roll over. They got to work. Those other teams started gunning for the Rockies, and they got them because Colorado wasn't on top of their game.
The Rockies willingly gave away their division title, and the Diamondbacks are taking advantage.