The San Diego…er…Los Angeles Chargers had a very good season, going 12-4 and defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, they were manhandled by the Belichick & Brady steamroller in the divisional playoffs, so it’s time to put football to bed (Super Bowl? What’s a Super Bowl?) and think baseball.
This upcoming season is a special one for San Diego Padres fans because the franchise will be celebrating its 50th year. I was one-year late to the party. I began following the then-San Diego Chargers in September 1969 and my thirteen-year-old mind reasoned that if I was going to follow the Chargers, I might as well follow the expansion Padres, too, even with their mustard-yellow and brown scurvy uniforms. So I jumped on board in 1970, the ball club’s second season, when the only good player on the roster was first-baseman, Nate Colbert (photo below).
Being a Padres fan hasn’t been easy. Yes, there were the two World Series appearances in 1984 and 1998, but the club has only had fourteen .500+ winning seasons in fifty years and only one winning season in the last eleven years. With no salary cap in MLB, the small-market Padres just can’t compete with the large-market big-spenders.
Still, I look forward to another season. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th. The team will open the season at home with a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants beginning on Opening Day, Thursday, March 28. As usual, I’m hoping for a .500+ season, but that’s asking a lot given the Padres’ anemic bats and unsteady pitching. With the Padres, it’s always about the “farm system” and next year. But the cash-strapped club constantly pulls the rug out from under itself by trading away young players with talent before they reach free agency.
Is it strange that a guy with a blog named “excatholic4christ” roots for a team called the “Padres” with a “Swinging Friar” for a mascot? Yes, it’s quite an irony, but I don’t get wrapped around the axle over it.
In the upcoming weeks, in commemoration of the Padres’ 50th season, I will be be discussing the Padres’ 1984 and 1998 NL Championship teams and also selecting the unofficial, All-Time Padres team.