Go Padres! NL Wild Card Series begins tonight

Yup, the COVID-19 pandemic has played absolute havoc here in America and around the world. The nation began to hunker down in mid-March as the virus spread. Quarantine restrictions were imposed inconsistently as government officials in the various regions of the country weighed the public health risk versus economic health. Businesses have cut back or closed altogether and millions of people have been laid off or terminated. The death toll continues to rise despite those who imprudently call the pandemic a hoax: 206,000 deaths have been attributed to C-19 in the U.S.A. to date. If the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, we also had the BLM protests accompanied by looting and destruction in many cities.

Amidst those kinds of significant and challenging circumstances, professional sports were/are hardly a priority, but many hoped the pro leagues could put together some type of package, if only to bring a little “normalcy” back to the very chaotic situation.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association hammered out a plan for a shortened, 60-game season and play began back on July 24th in empty stadiums.

I was optimistic for my San Diego Padres. Free agent pickup, Manny Machado, definitely didn’t live up to his hype in 2019, but Padres fans were hopeful he would return to form as one of MLB’s premier players. Fernando Tatis Jr. was on his way to the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year, until an injury felled him in August. And I was once again hopeful that previous free agent pickups, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, would finally get their heads on straight.

The abbreviated season and expanded playoff format meant just about every team had a shot if they could sustain a few hot streaks. Well my friends, the Padres put together quite a season and finished 37-23, the third-best record in MLB behind only the L.A. Dodger$ and the Tampa Bay Rays. Tatis SS was a shoe-in for NL MVP until he slowed down in August. However, Machado 3B stepped it up with a back-end NL MVP performance. Hosmer 1B played very well and many fans are thinking about Myers RF for Comeback Player of the Year for his excellent season. Rookie Jake Cronenworth 2B was a delightful surprise for the first 30 games, although he cooled off. After a slow start, Jurickson Profar LF settled in and finished the season as the hottest hitter on the roster. Young Trent Grisham did a nice job at CF. Big bat, Mitch Moreland 1B, was a late-season acquisition for the DH slot, but hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Starting pitchers, Dinelson Lamet and Zach Davies had excellent seasons, although Garrett Richards and especially projected-ace, Chris Paddack, disappointed. The Padres acquired Cleveland Indians ace, Mike Clevinger, in late August to shore up the rotation.

With their impressive 37-23 record and their 2nd-place finish behind the Dodger$ in the NL West, the Padres earned the 4th seed in the playoffs and will face the 5th seed St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-three series beginning tonight, 5 p.m. ET.

The last time the Padres were in the playoffs was…hold onto your hats…2006. The biggest concern for the Padres going into the series will be the recent nagging injuries to Lamet (biceps) and Clevinger (elbow).

If Lamet and/or Clevinger can’t pitch, the Padres would need a huge break. Can the big bats (Machado, Tatis, Myers, Hosmer) and the relief staff rise to the occasion?

Be like Mike?

Outside of limited trips to the neighborhood grocery store, most of us have largely been stuck at home during the past eight weeks due to the pandemic lockdown. I’m a reader, so to keep myself occupied, I downloaded six ebooks and bought two hard-copy, used books from Amazon third-party sellers. Many people have whiled away the surplus hours by binge-watching movies and series on Netflix, Amazon, or other streaming services. In the midst of this high demand for home entertainment, somebody at ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) timed it perfectly with the release of “The Last Dance,” a ten-part documentary, which focuses on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team during their heyday in the 1990s. The first two episodes premiered on April 19th followed by the release of two additional episodes each of the next four Sunday nights.

Sports-starved American males (and undoubtedly some females) are captivated by this series. ESPN previously had good success with its “30 for 30” series about interesting sports stories, but “The Last Dance” documentary has to be shattering all kinds of audience records.

Michael Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984 to 1993 and 1995 to 1998, leading the team to six NBA championships in that span, and is arguably one of the top-three sports icons of modern times. That very short short-list also includes Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. What made Jordan so good? Not only was he blessed with extraordinary athletic ability, he was also driven to be the very best.

In his push to win championships, Jordan took no prisoners. He even savagely bullied his own teammates. This series provides many unflinching and sometimes even painfully revealing insights into Jordan’s and the Bull’s rise to the top of the National Basketball Association.

A massive advertising campaign once encouraged all of us to “Be like Mike.” The man still enjoys worldwide fame and adulation to a degree that few others have known.

After having watched the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” this past Sunday night, I was doing my morning walk through the neighborhood and listening via earbuds to a sermon from John MacArthur regarding the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Argh! It struck me how VASTLY different the teachings and example of Jesus Christ are compared to the values of this world as exemplified by the adulation accorded to Michael Jordan. I’m not privy to Jordan’s spiritual beliefs. The man has kept his religious views, if any, so private despite thirty-six years of media scrutiny that they frustrate any and every google search. However, it doesn’t appear from the many interviews and behind-the-scenes segments in this series that Michael knows and loves the Lord.

I don’t want to be like Mike, I want to be like Jesus Christ.

Postscript: Featured in one of the episodes is a quip from Larry Bird in a press interview immediately after 23-year-old, Michael Jordan, scored 63 points in a playoff loss to Bird’s Boston Celtics on April 20, 1986. “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan,” said the exasperated Bird. Ach. That’s going WAY too far, Larry!

Odds and Ends

I’m a nerdy blogger and part of being a nerdy blogger is scheduling out my posts a couple of weeks ahead of time. I usually have 8-12 drafts in the queue that I’ll occasionally fiddle with and fine-tune before they’re finally published. I use a two-week, revolving “blog plan” sheet to keep it all straight and at the bottom of the sheet, I jot down ideas for new posts. I’ve accumulated a number of frivolous-type ideas that just keep getting pushed aside week after week, so I thought I’d finally publish them as a collection of “odds and ends” in a rare Sunday post:

Hot Sauce

Capture101Buffalo Chicken Wings are THE THING here in Western New York. Many, many years ago, I used to cook up my own wings in a mini-fryer and serve them with the standard Buffalo sauce – Frank’s Red Hot and melted butter – with Blue Cheese dressing on the side as a dip. I eventually created my own sauce concept, mixing Frank’s with Ranch dressing (heartier Ranch dressing actually tastes better than Blue Cheese in this combo) and eliminating the need for dip. I recently discovered something very similar to my old sauce at Tops supermarket; Creamy Ranch Buffalo Wing Sauce made by Moore’s Marinades and Sauces down in Birmingham, Alabama. Good stuff! But chicken wings are definitely not part of a healthy diet plan (just one fried chicken wing has about 100 calories and 7 grams of fat).

Trite sayings

Trite sayings come and go. At one time, EVERYONE was repeating the dismissive, “Whatever,” and the incredulous, “Really?” A decade ago, I sat near a woman at work who regularly used the annoyingly fatalistic phrase, “It is what it is.” She must have said that five or six times a day, every day!!!

New Yorkers – Hurry Up and Wait

We New Yorkers are notorious for being punctual to a fault. Twenty-years ago, our little family went on a 3-day cruise in the Caribbean. On the last day of the cruise, all passengers were told to report to the ship’s auditorium at 9 a.m. sharp for disembarkation instructions. We got there at about 8:45 along with a few other families. The ship’s officer in charge of the disembarkation was standing on stage and knowingly asked if we were all from New York. Here in New York, if a customer gets a little too friendly and chatty with the clerk at the grocery checkout, the rest of the people in line start going crazy. Or what about the older women at the checkout who always insist on meticulously picking out the exact change from their circa-1960, little change purse. It’s 2020! Get a debit card, ladies! Ach. We New Yorkers can be very impatient fools.

Walking in Winter

One of my fitness goals is to walk 10,000 steps every day, although I’m actually averaging only about 8K/day currently. It’s very difficult and dangerous walking in Rochester during the Winter with all of the snow and ice on the roads and the freezing temperatures. I’ve slipped and slid many times, but haven’t fallen. Yet. I need to seriously think about an alternative on bad days, like driving to the mall and doing my walking inside. My sister’s elderly mother-in-law was hit by a USPS truck and seriously injured while exercise-walking in the street during the Winter.

Sports teams

The last time I wrote about one of my sports teams was October 1st, when I was whining about the end of another terrible season by the San Diego Padres. What’s going on with my other favorite teams? After a very encouraging 12-4 record in 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers (football) sank like a rock in 2019, going 5-11. The Bolts have finally turned the page on 38-year-old QB, Philip Rivers. The New York Knicks (basketball) weren’t able to sign any marquee free agents in the offseason. After an abysmal start, Knicks management fired head coach, David Fizdale, and the team is currently limping along with a 17-38 record at the All-Star break, on its way to another atrocious finish. In contrast, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers (hockey) have put together a very decent 17-11-4 season to this point and seem to be on their way to the conference playoffs in early-March as a top-seed. Meanwhile, the Padres are currently going through the motions in the Cactus League in preparation for what figures to be another sub-.500 season. The first spring training game is slated for this coming Saturday, February 22nd, against Seattle.

New Yorkers Redux

A U.S. Census report published in December showed that New York State is once again leading all other states in net population loss. The exodus is especially manifest here in Western New York. The region was once an economic powerhouse, and taxes spiraled through the roof to keep pace with the growth and development. Fifty-years later, the manufacturing jobs are pretty much gone, but the outrageously high taxes remain. Bureaucracy, once created, will fight tooth and claw to ensure its survival. Besides the economic miasma, we get more snow here than any other region in the country. No company would consider moving here. When students graduate from the local colleges, they must leave the region to find work.

The “untimely” death of Kobe Bryant

I don’t usually publish two posts in one day, but yesterday’s news prompted me to put together some brief thoughts this morning.

As I’m sure most of you have heard, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California yesterday. Our non-believing oldest son called me yesterday afternoon to give me the breaking news.

41-year-old, Kobe Bryant was a living sports legend. He was such a gifted athlete that he was drafted into the National Basketball Association right out of high school. In his twenty-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he led the team to five championships and accumulated multiple individual honors. Kobe is widely recognized as one of the NBA’s top-ten greatest players of all time. While he was blessed with extraordinary athletic talent, he was appreciated by teammates, opponents, and fans alike for his “take no prisoners,” razor-focused, “Black Mamba” persona, to be the best in the game.

The world worships its sports heroes and the sudden death of Bryant shocked people across the globe. The extensive television coverage of Kobe’s untimely death and the mournful adulation of his fans was a phenomenon by itself.

If Kobe had died when he was seventy-five or eighty-five, it would not have been such a HUGE deal, but his early, accidental death is a shocking reminder that we are all mortal. God’s Word, the Bible, says this is a fallen world and that we are all sinners. The wages of sin is death, both physical and spiritual. But God the Father loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross. Jesus didn’t stay dead, but rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and now offers the free gift of eternal life to all those who repent (turn from sinful rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Kobe accomplished much in his short life, but he was also caught in some embarrassing indiscretions as most public figures are in this era of unyielding scrutiny. Did Kobe ever accept Jesus Christ as his Savior?

Some people achieve great fame because of talent and/or ambition. Most people in this world receive no notoriety. Rich and famous or poor and obscure, we must all stand before God someday. Will you be standing before God covered in the imputed, perfect righteousness of the Savior, Jesus Christ, or will you be standing before God covered in your sins and tainted self-righteousness? Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior now! Don’t wait! Early yesterday morning, Kobe probably didn’t have a care in the world, yet his life was over in seconds.

I will be mentioning Kobe’s untimely death in conversation with our unbelieving sons who love sports, but can’t be bothered with spiritual matters.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” – Proverbs 27:1

“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:2

The San Diego Padres rack up yet another disappointing season

Back in March, fans of the San Diego Padres anticipated a decent season for a change. The Padres hadn’t had a winning record since 2010, but the acquisition of free agent slugger, Manny Machado, and the promotions of some very promising blue chippers from the farm system prompted team execs and fans to hope for at least a .500 season. The Padres actually were 45-45 at the All-Star break, but afterward descended into a familiar losing spiral, winning only 25 of their final 72 games and posting a season-ending 70-92 record. Only one other MLB team lost more games after the break. What happened? Let’s take a look at how the Padres performed in 2019, position by position. Within the parentheses are the player’s pre-ASG BA followed by their post-ASG BA.

1B – Eric Hosmer (.287/.237) was one of the team’s spark plugs prior to the break, but faded afterwards. His 90 strikeouts post-ASG was #6 in all of MLB. Padres fans are still waiting for Hosmer to justify his 2018 free agency acquisition.

2B – Veteran, Ian Kinsler (.217/.217), was brought aboard to anchor the young infield, but he was a total bust. Advertised blue-chipper, Luis Urias (.083/.241) was called up when Kinsler went down with a season-ending injury, but the rookie struggled with major league pitching until September.

SS – Fernando Tatis, Jr. (.327/.302) looked like the NL Rookie of the Year when he wasn’t injured, but he played only 84 games. “El Niño” needs to guard against pushing himself beyond his physical limits.

3B – Free agent slugger, Manny Machado (.266/.242), signed with the Padres for $30 million per year for ten years. He didn’t live up to the hype to put it mildly. Manny batted .221 in August and .193 in September.

LF – Wil Meyers (.217/.271) was atrocious before the break, but had a bit of a revival afterwards. The 2015 free agent acquisition has been a major disappointment overall.

CF – Manny Margot (.242/.225) plays decent defense, but can’t hit.

RF – Hunter Renfroe (.252/.161) looked like a future All-Star with 27 HRs before the break, but went into an offensive tailspin afterwards.

C – Austin Hedges (.185/.161) is strictly a defensive player. Francisco Mejia (.211/.305) was the Padres’ only bright spot in the second half of the season.

Outfielder, Franmil “franimal” Reyes (.253/.273), had an impressive 27 dingers before the break, but couldn’t catch a cold. The Padres traded him to the Reds on July 31st. Role players, Greg Garcia (.264/.226), Ty France (.235/.233), and Josh Naylor (.215/.269) underwhelmed.

The Padres’ team BA pre-ASG of .242 placed them at #24 in MLB. Not good. Their post-ASG team BA of .233 placed them at #28. Atrocious.

P – Chris Paddack (2.84/4.01 ERA) had a notable rookie season and Dinelson Lamet (5.40/3.97) was decent in the second half. Joey Lucchesi (3.94/4.52), Eric Lauer (4.04/5.09) and Cal Quantrill (4.83/5.37) disappointed. Closer Kirby Yates led the majors with 30 saves before the break, but the Padres didn’t give him many opportunities post-ASG and he ended up with 41 saves.

The loss of Tatis, Jr. mid-August was a big blow, but doesn’t explain how the Padres collectively went into a nosedive. GM, A.J. Preller, threw skipper Andy Green under the bus by firing him on September 21 with only 8 games left in the season, but I think Padres ownership needs to take a long, hard look at Preller after this disaster of a season.

The San Diego Padres’ First Half-Century

San Diego Padres: The First Half Century
Edited by Tom Larwin and Bill Nowlin
Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), 2019, 358 pp.

5 Stars

This year, the San Diego Padres are celebrating their 50th anniversary. I actually began following the Padres in 1970, their sophomore season. It’s been a bumpy ride, folks. San Diego is a smaller market compared to some of the higher-profile MLB cities, and the Padres just don’t have the money to regularly buy their way into the playoffs like the Dodger$ or Yankee$. But there’s several bright spots in the franchise’s history, like the trips to the World Series in 1984 and 1998.

Because residents of San Diego enjoy one of the finest climates in the U.S.A., they’re hard-pressed to sit in a stadium for three hours when there’s so many other things to do. The football Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017 because the city wouldn’t help the team build a new stadium, but the fundamental issue was lack of fan support. Likewise, the Padres consistently draw below the MLB attendance average. Because of that lack of fan support, there just haven’t been many books written about the Padres over the years, so I’m grateful for this one, which commemorates the club’s fifty seasons.

There’s 66 chapters in this book collected under the following categories:

  • The Players – profiles of 25 former Padres
  • Managers, Executives, Media
  • Spring Training, Stadia, and The Chicken
  • Notable Padres Games
  • Facts, Figures, Trivia

I was happy to see the publication of this book, which celebrates the team’s first fifty years, and I thoroughly enjoyed some of the old memories. However, believe me when I tell you that ONLY an old Padres fan like myself would enjoy reading this fact-filled tome. One small criticism: Many of the player profiles include copious amounts of information about the players’ stints with other ball clubs, but most Padres’ fans would not be interested.

Postscript: At the All-Star break, the Padres had a promising 45-45 record. Since then, they’ve gone 5-11, losing five series in a row.

Evaluating the 2019 San Diego Padres at the All-Star Break

This week marks Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game break, so let’s use this opportunity to evaluate how the San Diego Padres are doing at mid-season.

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At the start of this special season, the San Diego Padres’ 50th anniversary campaign, fans finally had reason to hope. The ball club had uncharacteristically signed marquee free agent infielder, Manny Machado, to a ten-year, $300 million dollar contract. In addition, it was hoped that previous free agent pickups, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, would finally produce. Young sluggers, Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes had shown a lot of promise in 2018. Young blue chipper, Fernando Tatis Jr, couldn’t be kept off the big league roster after an outstanding Spring Training, and veteran second baseman, Ian Kinsler, was brought in to anchor the young infield, while another blue-chipper, Luis Urias, continued to gain experience in Triple-A. I was hoping for a .500 season, which was admittedly optimistic after last year’s 66-96 debacle.

Well, here we are at the All-Star break, with the Padres’ record at 45-45 and sitting at third-place in the NL West. Not great, but not terrible. This is actually the first time the Padres are at .500 or above at the break since 2010. Let’s take a look at the individual players:

1B –Eric Hosmer (.287, 13 HRs, 62 RBIs) – After a lackluster season last year, Hosmer has rewarded the Padres’ 2018 free agent signing with a solid first half.

2B – Ian Kinsler (.217, 8 HRs, 19 RBIs) – Has been a disappointment offensively. Infield utility sub, Greg Garcia (.264, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs), now gets the nod against right-handed pitching. Young Luis Urias still has to figure out major league-level pitching, but is doing well at Triple-A El Paso.

SS – Fernando Tatis Jr. (.327, 14 HRs, 33 RBIs) – The 20-year-old phenom had a serious hamstring pull that kept him out of the lineup from April 29th to June 5th. The rest of the time, he’s played like the NL Rookie of the Year. An amazing talent at the plate and with the glove. I’ve been following the Padres for fifty years and I can very safely say the franchise has never had another rookie who played at this exceptional level.

3B – Manny Machado (.266, 20 HRs, 58 RBIs) – Manny started off with a cold bat, but he’s starting to heat up (.323 last 30 games). One of the game’s best defensive infielders.

RF – Franmil Reyes (.253, 25 HRs, 42 RBIs) – Affectionately nick-named, “Franimal,” the Dominican is power personified with 25 dingers at the break.

CF – Wil Myers and Manuel Margot – I don’t enjoy saying this, but the Myers (.217, 12 HRs, 27 RBIs, 104 SO) experiment is over. It’s time for the Padres to cut the cord. Margot (.242, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs) is merely serviceable in centerfield.

LF – Hunter Renfroe (.252, 27 HRs, 49 RBIs) – That’s not a typo, folks. Renfroe’s 27 dingers ranks #4 in the NL at the break. Other teams can only dream of having a young, power-duo like Renfroe and Reyes in the outfield.

C – Austin Hedges and Francisco MejiaHedges (.185, 6 HRs, 23 RBIs) has been a big disappointment offensively. Young Mejia (.211, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs) is getting more playing time, but is not quite ready to hit major league pitching.

Pitching – The starting rotation of Joey Lucchesi, Matt Strahm, Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Eric Lauer, and Logan Allen , the youngest in MLB, has done surprisingly well given their overall lack of experience. Paddack is an exceptional young talent. However, the middle relievers are sub-mediocre. Closer Kirby Yates’ 30 saves leads all of MLB and he’s the Padres’ sole representative on the NL All-Star roster.

Bottom line: After a very disappointing 66-96 record last year, it was hoped the 2019 Padres, led by Manny Machado, would at least be competitive and building a foundation towards a 2020 or 2021 run at the NL pennant. So far so good. Props to Manager, Andy Green, for adroitly guiding MLB’s youngest roster. The Padres’ weaknesses (CF, RP) are starkly obvious and it’s up to General Manager A.J. Preller to address those needs.

Play ball, hang up the skates, and put away the basketball

Yup, I know it’s Throwback Thursday and I’ve already re-published a post from the past, but today is also Opening Day, so let’s shout out a loud…

Play ball!!!

Yes, today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball as the San Diego Padres begin a four-game homestand at Petco Park against their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. This is a special year for the Padres as they will be celebrating their 50th season. Over the last decade, the Opening Day hopes of realistic Padres fans centered around a .500 season finish, but with the acquisition of 3rd base slugger, Manny Machado (photo left), on February 19th, the team and the fans are beginning to set their sights higher. But let’s not get carried away. Although the Padres have the best farm system in the Majors, it will take some time for the young blue chippers to mature. Look for the Padres to start competing for the NL West next season. But this year we can all cheer the slugging “El Ministro de Defensa”!

Below are the Padres’ expected Opening Day starters:

  • C – Austin Hedges or Francisco Mejia
  • 1B – Eric Hosmer
  • 2B – Ian Kinsler
  • 3B – Manny Machado
  • SS – Fernando Tatis, Jr. – a 20-year-old, blue chipper who has improbably been promoted from Double-A straight to the Majors based upon his outstanding Spring Training
  • LF – Wil Meyers
  • CF – Manuel Margot or Franchy Cordero
  • RF – Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes
  • P – Eric Lauer

While the season ends for another team…

I had no interest in ice hockey for fifty-three years, although the sport is very popular here in Rochester. However, nine years ago on a whim I started following the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater) Men’s Hockey Team. It’s the only Division I college team in Rochester and home games are broadcast on cable TV. This past season, Coach Wayne Wilson led the club to 15-14-4 overall and 13-11-4 Atlantic Conference records, certainly not a great year, but good enough for the #5 seed in the conference’s postseason tournament. Two weekends ago, the Tigers took the postseason quarterfinal series 2 games to 1 against #4 seed, Sacred Heart (Argh, what a name!). However, this past Friday night in the semi-finals, RIT lost to #6 seed, Niagara, 1-0, in overtime. Season over. Shout-out to graduating seniors, Abbot Girduckis, Mark Logan, Christian Short, Gabe Valenzuela, and Erik Brown (photo right), RIT’s all-time leading scorer at the Division I level.

…while this team limps to the finish line.

The hapless New York Knicks are at the tail-end of their season with a 14-60 record and 8 games left to play. The Knicks have a very good chance of beating the franchise record of least amount of wins in a season; 17. With tons of cap space after jettisoning Porzingis and Hardaway, can the lowly Knicks lure free agents, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, in the offseason?

The inspiring story of former Padres and Giants pitcher, Dave Dravecky

Comeback
By Dave Dravecky with Tim Stafford
Zondervan, 1990, 252 pages

After posting last week about the exploits of three Christian amigos on the 1984 San Diego Padres; Eric Show, Dave Dravecky, and Mark Thurmond (see here), I borrowed a copy of Dravecky’s book, “Comeback,” from our local library system.

Ever hear of Dave Dravecky? Well, EVERYBODY in America was talking about him thirty years ago in 1989.

Dravecky was drafted out of college by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978. He spent three years in the Bucs’ farm system before being traded to San Diego as a minor league prospect in 1981. Ex-Catholic Dravecky was playing in Amarillo, Texas for the Double-A Gold Sox when teammate, Byron Ballard, led him to the Lord. Praise God! Dravecky was called up to the Padres in 1982 and went on to help the Friars win the 1984 NL Pennant. Half-way through the 1987 season, the Padres traded Dravecky to the San Francisco Giants.

While he was with the Padres, Dravecky had noticed a small lump on the shoulder of his left throwing arm, but the Friars’ training staff told him just to keep an eye on it. During the 1988 season with the Giants, Dravecky started developing severe pain in his left shoulder and the lump seemed to be getting bigger. A biopsy was done and the lump was determined to be cancerous. The surgeons removed the tumor and about half of his left deltoid muscle in October, 1988. Many of the cells of the humerus arm bone were also deadened by the surgeon as a precaution. The doctors warned Dravecky that he would have trouble doing even simple things with his arm after surgery let alone ever pitch again in Major League Baseball.

But Dravecky was determined to pitch again and entered into an aggressive, year-long rehabilitation program. Defying all odds and medical science, Dravecky was reinstated to the Giants’ active roster and pitched on August 10, 1989, beating the Cincinnati Reds. Giants fans and the entire nation stood up and applauded Dravecky’s determination. On his following start, a week later against the Expos, Dravecky’s left humerus snapped while pitching. The bone was still weak from the surgical procedure of the previous year. If that weren’t enough, on October 10th, Dravecky’s left humerus was broken AGAIN when he became tangled up in an on-field celebration following the Giants’ victory over the Cubbies to clinch the 1989 NLCS.

This book concludes in 1990 with doctors determining that cancer had returned to Dravecky’s left shoulder and that he would finally be retiring from baseball. From other sources I learned that Dravecky had two more surgeries, but his left arm continued to deteriorate, and on June 18, 1991, Dravecky’s left arm and shoulder were amputated. But the Lord had plans for Dave and he began his thirty-year “career” of witnessing for the Lord and inspiring others as a motivational speaker.

I REALLY enjoyed this book! Dave praises the Lord throughout and gives Him the glory. But he’s also honest. Throughout his trials, Dave didn’t always have a smile on his face, but the Lord lifted him up again and again. I like that kind of transparency. As a Padres fan, I wish Dave had written more about his six seasons with the Friars. This book would have also been a good opportunity for Dravecky to address the 1984 controversy involving himself and teammates Eric Show and Mark Thurmond and their connection with the John Birch Society, but those are minor criticisms. Even non-sports fans will enjoy this testimony to Dravecky’s resolve fueled by God’s grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. After researching and writing last week’s post about the John Birch Society fiasco and Eric Show’s downward spiral, it was refreshing to read Dravecky’s uplifting testimony.

For more information on Dave Dravecky’s ministry, see the link below. The six-minute video at the bottom is also a blessing.

Endurance with Jan and Dave Dravecky
https://www.endurance.org/