To date, the state of Arizona has experienced just one "Big 4" sports championship (i.e. world titles by an MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL team).
The Arizona Diamondbacks are responsible for that one and only championship -- and on Wednesday, their quest to double that number will begin in downtown Phoenix.
The D-backs just wrapped up an incredible 2017 regular season and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in six years. On Wednesday night, they'll face the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card playoff game at Chase Field. That game will begin at 5:08 Arizona time and will be televised on TBS.
If the D-backs win, their season will continue with a best-of-five series against the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Friday.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 3, 2017
If you haven't followed the Diamondbacks this season, here are five things you should know about this year's team.
1. This was unexpected
Let's be honest: Valley sports fans aren't the most spoiled in the country. Championships, and even playoff appearances, tend to be few and far between. The Cardinals made a run to the NFC Championship game less than two years ago, but the D-backs, Suns and Coyotes had all experienced lengthy playoff droughts.
That's what makes the D-backs' 2017 season special -- it came out of the blue. After finishing last season an extremely disappointing 69-93, this year's team literally flipped the script by going 93-69 -- one game better than their 2001 World Series season.
Moments like these don't come around often, Valley residents. Savor it. Hop on the bandwagon while there's still room.
2. Goldschmidt's MVP-caliber season
The only member of the D-backs' current roster who was also on the 2011 playoff team is Paul Goldschmidt, who's simply one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. The man known as America's First Baseman had a rough September but still put together MVP-caliber statistics in 2017.
This isn't anything knew for "Goldy," who was the National League MVP runner-up in 2013 and 2015. But here's the other thing about Paul Goldschmidt: He's a really good guy. He and his wife Amy, who have a young son, created Goldy's Fund 4 Kids to raise money for Phoenix Children's Hospital. Last year, they put together the first-ever Goldy's Bowling Bash as a PCH fundraiser.
Goldschmidt isn't the most outspoken or charismatic baseball player you'll come across, but he's one of the best human beings in the game. He is worth your admiration and support.
3. J.D. Martinez
Goldschmidt smacked 36 home runs for the D-backs this season, but the team's 2017 home run leader is a guy they traded for midseason and who didn't have any clothes when he arrived in the Valley.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez was acquired by the D-backs in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in July -- and what an incredible investment he's been. The 30-year-old Miami native has hit 45 home runs altogether this season, including 29 homers in just 62 games with Arizona. His 16 home runs in September tied a National League record that hadn't been touched in 68 years.
The red-hot Martinez was the National League Player of the Month in September -- and the D-backs will need more of the same from their midseason acquisition if they're going to make a deep playoff run.
4. Zack Greinke
He's quiet, he's awkward, and he apparently won't sign autographs for just anyone. But D-backs pitcher and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke is one of the best in the business.
The D-backs signed Greinke to an astronomical six-year, $206 million contract before the 2016 season. He didn't deliver in his first year in Arizona but he's been rock-solid this years, especially at Chase Field. Greinke, who's a big fan of Arizona sunsets, will make his 10th-ever playoff start when he takes the mound Wednesday night.
Greinke is the D-backs' most prized investment. Was that investment was a smart or foolish one? We'll know more after Wednesday.
5. The Beard
Despite a strong season from Greinke and the rest of the Diamondbacks' starting pitchers, the most popular pitcher on the team is a relief pitcher with one of the best beards in baseball.
#BringInTheBeard to your wardrobe with this ? T-shirt, available at the Chase Field Team Shop.
And yes, they take mail orders. ? pic.twitter.com/psTrDJiFom
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) June 28, 2017
25-year-old Archie Bradley, who maintained his sense of humor when his face swelled up to twice its size after being hit in the face with a ball two years ago, has been the team's most reliable reliever throughout the season. Fans love him for that reason, and also because of the emotion he brings to the game. He took it personally when thousands of blue-clad Dodgers fans descended upon Chase Field during a game last month.
Bradley, who usually appears in the eighth inning of close games in which the D-backs are ahead, will continue to be relied upon to make short work of hitters in the postseason just as he has throughout the regular season. Hopefully, Diamondbacks' opponents will continue to fear the beard throughout the playoffs.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 3, 2017