PHOENIX – In the fall of 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks embarked on an improbable journey to the World Series. They were a team of underdogs, facing the dominant New York Yankees. Fast forward to 2023, and the Diamondbacks find themselves yet again the underdogs in the Fall Classic when they meet the Texas Rangers starting Friday.
Although two decades separate both remarkable seasons, there are uncanny similarities that might prove history does indeed repeat itself.
One of the most captivating parallels is the timing of the games. Just like in 2001, the 2023 World Series is scheduled on the exact same days, 22 years apart. Is this a quirk of fate adding an extra layer of mystique to the series?
Before the 2001 season began, Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson gave MLB one of the most memorable moments in its history when his pitch during spring training struck and killed a bird as it flew near home plate. During a three-game series with the Oakland A’s in May,. It, too, was killed. It was as if the baseball gods were playing tricks with time.
Both seasons were marked by significant world events. In 2001, the 9/11 attacks shook the nation, and in 2023, the ongoing turmoil in Israel is weighing heavily on the world. These events added an element of context to each baseball season, reminding everyone that some things are bigger than a game.
When comparing their respective paths to the World Series, both teams went on eerily similar runs. On June 7, 2001, the Diamondbacks had a remarkable offensive showing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning 13-9 to improve to a 36-24 record. Fast forward to June 6, and this year’s team matched the feat, defeating the Washington Nationals, 10-5, nearly replicating the record at 36-25. It was as if history were (almost) repeating itself.
Both teams had their backs against the wall at some point during their postseason runs. In 2001, the Diamondbacks found themselves down 3-2 in the World Series to the Yankees after losing three straight games at Yankee Stadium but came back to win the championship. In 2023, the Diamondbacks lost Game 5 of the NLCS at home to Philadelphia, trailing 3-2 in the series. The Diamondbacks roared back with two straight wins on the road to secure their place in the World Series. In both cases, they had to overcome adversity and show their resilience to win a series.
During the 2001 and 2023 postseasons, eight different members of the Diamondbacks hit home runs. In 2001 they totaled 11, while in 2023 they have reached an astonishing 18 home runs so far, exemplifying their offensive firepower.
The 2001 Diamondback clinched their NLCS victory on the road against the Atlanta Braves, with the final out coming on a popup into the outfield. In a strangely similar scenario, the 2023 Diamondbacks secured the NLCS victory in Philadelphia with a near-identical pop-up final out. The spirits of the ‘01 title run seemingly guided the 2023 Diamondbacks to the World Series.
Even the matchup of the Diamondbacks against the Rangers is a tale as old as 2001. To get to the World Series in 2001, the Diamondbacks beat St. Louis 3-2 in the NLDS, while the Yankees beat Oakland 3-2 in the ALDS. For the NL and AL championship series, the Diamondbacks beat Atlanta 4-1 and the Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 4-1. Both World Series-bound teams ended the divisional and championship series with the same playoff record.
This is where it gets weird. The ‘23 Diamondbacks swept the Dodgers 3-0 in the NLDS, and the Rangers matched the 3-0 sweep in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. Both the NLCS and ALCS went to a Game 7, with the Diamondbacks beating Philadelphia on the road and the Rangers beating the Houston Astros on the road. It’s spooky how the divisional and championship series from both the 2001 and 2023 World Series teams mirrored each other.
The abnormal similarities between the 2001 and 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks teams have created a sense of destiny and nostalgia among fans. It’s as if history is beginning to repeat itself, and the spirit of the legendary 2001 team has been with the current Diamondbacks as they aim for World Series glory.