DENVER - With the clubhouse party still going strong 30 minutes after the Diamondbacks clinched a playoff berth, Tony Clark took a step back. Small streams of sweat, champagne and tears trickled down the sides of his face.
Teammates know how much Clark’s contributions have meant to the D-Backs’ season, but perhaps no one really knew how much the season meant to Clark.
“I always wondered if I would be able to get to this point again,” said Clark, his voice low, cracked, almost gone.
“To do it with this group is special, realizing these opportunities can be few and far between over the course of a career. … I’m enjoying this a whole lot more than the last time.”
Clark’s only previous playoff experience was with the 2004 New York Yankees, who were one game from the World Series before losing four straight to Boston in the AL championship series.
“It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of this group,” he said.
Clark had addressed the entire team a few minutes earlier.
“We have a special group,” he said, before starting the motto he coined.
“Anybody,” he yelled.
“Anytime,” the group responded in unison.
The D-Backs (90-70) clinched at least the NL wild-card berth and will win the NL West — and secure home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs — with one more victory or one San Diego loss in the final two games of the season.
They were the first NL team to clinch a playoff berth, the Cubs becoming the second less than an hour later when they won the NL Central as Milwaukee lost to the Padres.
The scene in the clubhouse was of pure joy. General manager Josh Byrnes and manager Bob Melvin exchanged a hug so fierce that it knocked each other off-balance.
Champagne and beer sprayed everywhere, on almost everyone, including team partners Ken Kendrick, Jeff Moorad, Dale Jensen and Mike Chipman. President Derrick Hall also got his share.
Anybody, anytime, exactly.
Livan Hernandez staged a group hug. Chris Young and Conor Jackson danced, and so did Tony Pena and Migual Montero.
“I can’t do nothing,” Orlando Hudson yelled to the group, his wrist cast covered by a baggy, “but I’m going to manage like hell to get us to the promised land.”
Rookie Mark Reynolds’ season came full circle in Coors Field.
He was purchased by the D-Backs on May 16 when Chad Tracy suffered an oblique strain and made his major league debut in a 5-3 loss to the Rockies that night, getting two hits and two RBIs.
Reynolds was up all night the night before playing video games, he said, because he did not want to take a chance on missing the flight to Denver.
He finished the season with 62 RBIs in only 361 at-bats.
“We did this in South Bend,” Reynolds said after playing for the 2005 Midwest League champions. “I thought that was cool. Tonight is unbelievable.
“It feels good to finish here. I came here as a 23-year-old rookie. I’m leaving here as a 24-year-old third baseman on a team that is headed for the playoffs.”
The D-Backs have scored nine fewer runs than they have given up this season, and would be the sixth team in modern major league history to make the playoffs with a negative run differential.
They would be the first in that group to have the best record in the league.
“People talk about the run differential. People talk about it not making sense,” Eric Byrnes said.
“There’s a reason it doesn’t make sense. This is a team, 25-plus guys in here that all believe in each other. This is what this team’s been all about. It typifies the season.”
D-Backs playoffs tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. today at the Chase Field ticket office, dbacks.com, losdbacks.com or by calling (602) 514-8400. Ticket prices range from $185 for a clubhouse box and $115 for dugout boxes to $30 for infield reserve and $15 for outfield reserve. Tickets also may be purchased at Tucson Electric Park or through the statewide toll-free number, (888) 777-4664. If the D-Backs qualify for home-field advantage, the first two games of a best-of-five series will be played at Chase Field on Wednesday and Thursday with a possible Game 5 on Oct. 9. If they start on the road, the only home games would be Oct. 6-7.