May 28, 2024

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Arizona Diamondbacks have defied the odds every step of the way in making it to the World Series, using naysayers’ doubts as fuel.

“If you’re in any sort of competitive field and somebody tells you [that] you can’t do something or they think somebody can do it better than you, I think that’s kind of the main reason probably why you’re where you are today,” Game 1 starter Zac Gallen said Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t think it was necessarily that people thought we couldn’t do it, it was just that no one expected us to be here.”

Which is why the Diamondbacks continue to play with a chip on their shoulder entering Game 1 vs. the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

“Nobody knows the magic that’s sitting inside that clubhouse right now,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Nobody knows what we’re capable of doing on a daily basis. Nobody knows how hard we’re working to make today happen.”

Arizona claims it has enough internal motivation to keep it going but an external doubt here or there won’t hurt the cause. Only a heavy underdog can play that card, and the Diamondbacks haven’t shied away from it. They’ve embraced it and used it to their advantage.

“It’s our job to come here, stay motivated and stay focused,” Lovullo said. “I don’t think we need extra, but when you get extra, it’s like a glass of iced tea. Add a little bit of honey and lemon to it, it tastes perfect. We hear those things, they’re out there. Social media makes it happen really quick. And it’s really my friends and my family that are dropping it in my lap.”

Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, the Game 3 starter, expressed similar sentiments.

“It is what it is when you’re one of those low payroll teams that a lot of people think other teams have better guys than you do,” Pfaadt said. “We’ve done a good job of overcoming adversity and battling back. It sets you up for these situations.”

Perhaps it would have been less surreal if the Diamondbacks were one of the favorites coming into the season. They were far from it. In fact, an Arizona victory over Texas would mark the longest preseason odds ever for a team to win a World Series.

The Diamondbacks also haven’t been afraid to engage on the topic of being dismissed or forgotten about as a contender. After beating the Phillies in the National League Championship Series, Gallen took to social media to post a link where Philadelphia fans could “get those tix for your next game.”

The link was for Phillies spring training tickets.

“There was a lot of mentions from people in my DMs and stuff like that — they were talking junk,” Gallen said with a smile. “So I just figured if they want to talk junk to me, I’ll say one back. Being from there, I knew how to hit them the hardest. So that was my thought.

“… That’s over with. It’s Thursday, the day before the World Series. So moving on.”

He might be moving on, but his manager isn’t. In fact, Lovullo is keeping “receipts.”

Lovullo is in a friendly war of words with ESPN “First Take” and MLB Network “High Heat” personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who said on his radio show that he’d “retire on the spot” if the Diamondbacks won Games 6 and 7 in Philadelphia.

“A deal’s a deal,” Lovullo said. “You can’t back out of that one, ‘Mad Dog.’ You’ve got to do something. … .I ain’t going to forgive you until you do something unbelievable, maybe show up here and say you’re sorry to the entire team. That’s all I want to say about that.”

Arizona doesn’t need any bulletin board material from the Rangers. It’s finding plenty elsewhere.

“I find it entertaining,” Lovullo said. “I get to it. And we just put it on our list and keep those receipts and walk around with a little bit more of a chip on our shoulder. It gives you a little bit more motivation. And when you can get a little bit more, you take it.”

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