October 2008

Padres’ Priorities: Catcher

Our veteran catcher Josh Bard took the free agency route recently. The rookie catcher Luke Carlin was moved off the 40-man roster. That leaves the highly-regarded Nick Hundley. This year was a bad year for our catchers. Both Michael Barrett and Bard had minimal playing time, as they were injured the majority of the year. As a result, Nick and Luke got a lot of playing time. Luke was not-so-good. He had decent catching, but slumped badly at the plate. He was 14-for-94. Nick was definitely better. He was a great defensive catcher, and the pitchers were comfortable with him. He also faired pretty well at the plate, hitting 5 home runs with 24 batted in. He did have a lot more playing time than Luke, catching 60 games to Luke’s 36. The most exciting part about Nick is his ability to snag baserunners. He has a good arm, and great release to second. I think he will definitely be on the Opening Day roster. 

But he needs an experienced veteran catcher at his side. While Bardo was on the DL, he took Nick under his wing. But now that Bardo is gone, we need another catcher. Yesterday, 65 players filed for free agency. Among them were catchers Jason Varitek, Paul Lo Duca, and Ivan Rodriguez. Now, I have no idea how much money the Padres are willing to sign a free agent to (probably not much). They might get a catcher through a trade. But I tell you what, there is a great crop of free agent catchers floating around out there. I hope the Padres take a look at these guys at least.

Other notable free agents are Manny Ramirez, Greg Maddux, Joe Beimel, Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, Bob Abreu, and Milton Bradley. It will be a very interesting offseason…

TACO DAY!

Tuesday was Taco Day in America, thanks to Jason Bartlett of the Rays who stole a base in game 1 of the World Series. So, around 4 in the afternoon San Diego time, I headed to my nearest Taco Bell. This particular Taco Bell is old, small, and not the nicest place to be. When I walked in, it was crowded with weird teenagers, homeless guys, and some really strange people. So I waited in line for a while because the people ahead of me were not just ordering their free taco. Once I finally got it ordered, I had to move to the side and wait. While I waited there were many other strange people that came through. I had to wait 10 to 15 minutes. When I finally got it, I was very relieved to get out of there! I went home to enjoy it. With a little peach salsa, it was amazing. But very small. So, thank you, Jason Bartlett! I’m still not sure if it was worth my time, but hey, free food is free food.

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  In a little Padres news, the World Series is over. That means that we only have a few days to pick up Brian Giles’ option. So get done, front office!!!

2008 WORLD CHAMPIONS

Philadelphia was in a drought. But certainly not literaly: rain has been pounding the city for the past few days. No, this drought was the drought of their sports team, particulary the Phillies. The last time the Phils had won the World Series was 1980, an insane 28 years ago. What are the Rays whining about? They haven’t even been around that long.

In an epic game that spanned over three days, Cole Hamels was spectacular. He went 6 innings on 70-something pitches. Shane Victorino put the Phils up with a two-run single in the first. Singles by Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena got the Rays their first two runs. Enter the delay. The game started on Monday night. But it was postponed to Wednesday, right through Taco Day. When the game finally got started again, it was 2-2 going into the bottom of the 6th. The Phillies were able to get a run from Jayson Werth with a single. The Rays answered back with a Rocco Baldelli homer in the 7th. The Phils came right back to score on Pedro Feliz’s single. With the score 4-3 Phillies, the bullpens held quietly for an inning. Then Brad Lidge came in to close the game. This guy was shockingly solid all year. His outing last night was not one-two-three, as he had the tying run on second with two outs. But he struck out Eric Hinske to close the World Series and give Philadelphia the title. If you haven’t seen the on-field celebration yet, go to MLB.com and watch it. It is amazing. I love watching the celebrations!!

Cole Hamels is the MVP. It’s a no-doubter. What a great series! You gotta tip your cap to the losers, though. The Rays came a long way this year. They did something they had never done before: they got to the playoffs. And not just that, they also got the the World Series. They beat the defending champs. Though their hot hitters cooled down in rainy Philadelphia, they have some team there.

So, we have our 2008 champions: the Philadelphia Phillies. Now begins the long offseason…    

7 Reasons Not to Trade Jake Peavy

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I’ve tired to ignore it. But it is inevitable. There are serious Jake Peavy trade talks going on. Now, the Padres aren’t trying to get rid of him. It is very likely that he will be with us next year. But if it’s coming, I have some reasons to keep him.

REASON #7: THE CASUAL FANS 

It’s safe to say that Jake is a celebrity in San Diego. He’s definitely one of the faces of the organization. If you lived in San Diego and knew very little about the Padres, you would probably be able to identify three players: Tony Gywnn, Trevor Hoffman, and Jake Peavy. As a result, if you wanted to go to a game, you would most likely go to one that Jake starts. If Jake gets traded, what’s the point for a casual fan to go to a game for any reason other than having a fun time at the ballpark?

REASON #6: THE FEMALE FANS

Yes, we all know that Jake is married. But there are many San Diego girls who have an obsession with Jake. I’m sure there are many young ladies who show up just for Jake’s starts. If Jake gets traded, these girls will be heartbroken. 

REASON #5: THE DIE-HARD FANS

What about the fans who stick by the team through thick and thin? What about the fans who could be put in the classification of “obsessed”? What about the fans who know everything about the team, the ones who shell out their hard-earned money to go to a game? What about them? What are they supposed to do without Jake Peavy? It would be a devastating loss. But hopefully we would be able to move on. How can we cheer for a team that traded their ace? Well, that’s why we’re die-hard. We stick by them no matter what. Espescially when it’s tough.

REASON #4: THE PLAYERS

Jake’s a semi-leader in the clubhouse. It isn’t fair to the other guys to lose a guy like Jake. Whenever he pitches, he fires up the team. If the front office trades their star ace, how can any players get comfortable here?

REASON #3: THE CITY

San Diego is a championship-starved city. We are well aware of that. Why would this city believe in a team that gives away one of their biggest chances of winning?

REASON #2: THE FAMILY

Jake, his wife Katie, and their sons Jacob and Wyatt moved to San Diego last offseason. Katie just had their third child, Judson Lee. Can you believe how horrible it would be for Katie to have to move the family? Now, if Jake got traded soon, he would be able to help her. But it would be so sad if she had to move with 2 young boys and a baby. Then again, the rest of the family might stay behind if Jake had to move on. 

AND NOW, THE NUMBER 1 REASON TO KEEP JAKE PEAVY IS…

THE FIRE

If you’ve seen Jake pitch, you know what I mean. When he goes out there, he’s screaming at himself, stalking around the mound, giving it all he’s got. He’s a fighter, and he doesn’t give up. When his team’s been struggling, he goes into his starts determined to win. He brings a fire to this club. What would we do without it? No one can replace that. If we lose Jake, we lose hope for this club.

So, in review, if Jake gets traded, it’s going to hurt the fans, the family, and the club. I, like all Padres fans, are waiting nervously to see what the Padres will do. But hopefully, we’ll still have our ace next season.  

 

 

 

Suspended

Well, we have an answer to our question: the Phillies did not win the World Series tonight. But they are not done yet. Game 5 of the World Series has been suspended to tomorrow night because of the Philadelphia rain. The score is 2-2 in the 6th inning. When play resumes, the Phillies will bat in the bottom of the 6th. They got their two runs on a Shane Victorino single. The Rays got singles from Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena to score twice off Cole Hamels. And, yes, you did read that right: Longoria got a hit. Those pesky base-stealers have been the Phillies’ only problem with Tampa Bay. So, it’s been a good game so far. A pitcher’s duel. Now it’s like, oh man! If the Phillies had been able to hold on to their lead, they would have won the World Series in the 6th inning. But it didn’t happen. So, these teams have a second chance tomorrow. I have no idea what the weather forecast is, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Phils hit a homer and it starts raining again and they win…..RIGHT. Well, this series has been very interesting. I wonder if something like this has ever happened before. Well, after everyone gets their free tacos, there will be some more baseball to be played. I can’t wait to see what happens! GO PHILLIES!

Can the Phillies do it?

The Phils have a 3-1 lead over Tampa Bay. They have 2 straight wins in a row. They have extreme momentum from a walk-off followed by a bombing. Can they do it? Can they win the World Series TONIGHT?

Well, look who’s pitching. Yep, it’s that amazing lefty, Cole Hamels. Naturally, he’ll have to take care of Scott Kazmir, but with the way Hamels has been throwing, I personally think the Rays don’t stand a chance. OK, maybe a sliver of a chance, but it’s going to be a tough game for the Rays’ hitters. But that doesn’t mean that the Phillies lineup won’t have their own problems. Kazmir could be just as tough as Hamels.

But looking back on the last two games, the Phillies’ hitters have really heated up. Particulary Ryan Howard. The guy has three homers in two games! If the rest of the lineup stays hot, who’s going to keep them down? This game certainly seems to be in the Phillies’ favor.

But baseball is a weird, weird game. Last night’s game was insane. I mean, the starting pitcher hitting his first career homer in a World Series game? A decent second baseman booting multiple plays? A star rookie in a BAD slump? It’s plain WEIRD. But that’s why we love it. Whenever you go to the ballpark, especially in a game like this, you know that something amazing could happen. Let’s see if the Phillies can live the dream tonight.  

A World Series for San Diego

As the World Series this year begins, it makes me think of the Padres. Their last WS appearance was 10 years ago, in the amazing season of 1998.

I wasn’t a Padres fan back then, but I’ve certainly heard about it. That was the WS where we got swept by the New York Yankees. Those were the days of Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Kevin Brown, and Trevor Hoffman. Today’s team is completely different from that 1998 team. Today’s team has a different front office, a different ballpark, and new logos, colors, and uniforms. Today’s team is made up of Jake Peavy, Trevor Hoffman, and Brian Giles, with rising stars like Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chase Headley, and Nick Hundley. This is a young team, no doubt about it. For the last two years, this team has failed.

But I truly believe that we will win the World Series in the near future. Brian Giles has talked about it over and over again. He believes that this team is just a few pieces away. I think it will take a few years, but I agree with him. We’re very close to being a contending team. 2008 was just a glitch that broke the string of three years of contention.

I’ve been watching the playoff games, and it would be incredible to have the Padres there. I see the energy in the ballparks, and I imagine it in PETCO Park. It would be the big downtown party. The playoffs get a lot of publicity, and it would be so cool to have the Padres there. I haven’t truly experienced a Padres championship yet. But I’m ready, hungry for it. Watching the Red Sox in the past two postseasons, I think I understand more clearly now, the joy of having your team in the postseason. It’s amazing.

I don’t know when the Padres will get our World Championship, but we will. It might take a while, but we will get there, and we will win. There will be many disappointments and frustrations, but that will all be forgotten when we win it all. Someday, the Padres will bring a World Title to San Diego. I can’t wait for that day.   

The Underdog Factor

Unfortunately, this World Series is going to be tough for me. I’m rooting for the Phillies, but many people close to me are rooting for the Rays.

It’s gotta be that “underdog” factor. The same thing happened last year with the Rockies. My dad is going for the Rays, and he was trying to convince me to join him during the Red Sox series. “Come on, you have to root for the underdog,” he said. But I stayed fiercely loyal to my Red Sox. (This also happened last year during the World Series. But what can I say? I love the Red Sox!) My younger sister is not a baseball fan, but in order to spite me, she was “rooting” for the Rays. She really doesn’t care, but just to annoy me, she would fakingly cheer when she saw the Rays ahead. It was very annoying because I know she really doesn’t care. Then some of my closest friends who are very involved in sports have also taken the “underdog” side for the past two years. I hate having to root against these people who mean so much to me. But what can I do? Last year, there was no way I could have cheered for the Rockies after that devastating loss in game 163. That actually helped me become a Red Sox fan. If it was the Padres and the Blue Jays in the World Series and some of my friends took the “underdog” side, I would obviously have to root against them. I guess that’s the way it is. You take a side and you stick by it, even if it means you aren’t on the same side as your friends. It’s just part of the game. There’s always going to be an opposing fan. We just have to deal. I’ve argued with a lot of my friends about things like Trevor Hoffman, the Red Sox, and Kouz, but I always try to be gracious and respect their opinions. I’m not going to make my friends my enemies over a sports issue. My friends are much more important to me than baseball. 

So, just like last year, I will stay loyal to “my” team. And hopefully, the Phillies will be able to finish this one quickly.  

Rays: American League Champions

The Rays did it. Hats off to them. After Boston’s miraculous rally on Thursday, and their win on Saturday, the Rays’ pitching easily controlled game 7.

Matt Garza was spectacular. 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts. He held the Red Sox down. The only run was a solo homer fron Dustin Pedroia. This guy is amazing. He has a great arm at second, plus a wonderful bat. Anyway, after Garza, the Rays’ bullpen kicked in. It took 4 relievers in the 8th inning, but they got their goal done: preventing Boston to score when they had the bases loaded. It worked, as Boston left 8 runners on in the game. They certainly had their chances, but they were not able to get that clutch knock. On the pitching side, Jon Lester was not bad. He gave up only 3 runs, but it was enough to beat Boston.

The Red Sox really grew on me this postseason, and it was sad to see them lose like that. I’m used to that heartbreak because of the Padres. But just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Losses in big games like that hurt. In the Padres case, they were constantly leaving the potential tying or winning runs on base. But they never got that clutch hit and so they lost. That’s a huge part of why we had 99 losses this year.

But how ’bout those Rays? They were nothing before this year and now they’re in the World Series. It’s pretty incredible. But I don’t think I’ll be able to root for them in the WS. I’ve been rooting against them for the last 7 games, and believe me, it’s not easy to flip around and immediately cheer for them. I think it would take a long time before a Red Sox fan could root for the Rays.

We’ll have to see how this goes. It will be very interesting. I’m not going to pick a team to win (I mean, Tampa Bay beat the Boston Red Sox and the Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for goodness sakes!!), but I will be rooting for Philly. So, GO PHILLIES!     

Red Sox: Never Say Die

I realized why I love the Red Sox last night: they’re THE comeback team, the very picture of “never say die”. They’re unbelievable. But they’re the real deal. This team is simply incredible.

It was a wild and wooly game, no doubt. Dice-K got hit early with a 2-run homer from the red-hot B.J. Upton. Then in the third, Carlos Pena hit a 2-runner followed by a solo shot from Evan Longoria. Thing were not looking good for the Sox in this do-or-die game, and it got even worse. Pena added to the problems with a 2-run double off Jonathan Paplebon. Going into the bottom of the 7th, it was a 7-0 game. Jed Lowrie started the inning with a double. After 2 flyouts, Coco Crisp singled to sent Lowrie to third. Dustin Pedroia singled in Boston’s first run. Then David Ortiz came to the plate. The announcers were just explaining his slump of 61 ABs without a homer when BANG! Ortiz hits a tremendous three-runner to right. It’s now 7-4 Rays. In the bottom of the eighth, Jason Bay walked to set up J.D. Drew. Drew hit a bomb to bring the Sox within a run. 2 outs later, Mark Kotsay doubled. Crisp singled, Kotsay scored, Crisp tried to take second but was tagged out. But the tying run scored. Justin Masterson threw a good top 9th. In the bottom of the 9th, two quick outs were made. It seemed as if the game would go to extras when Kevin Youkilis hit a ground ball to Longoria. The third baseman made a great scoop, but his throw to first missed, bounced up, and sailed over the first baseman’s mitt. Youkilis to second. Bay was intentionally walked for Drew. Drew slammed a single to right, sending in the winning run. It was amazing.

This game was fantastic. I’m running out of adjectives here, but it is worth every one of them. I mean, the game did not look promising for the Sox at all in the beginning. Dice-K was struggling, and they were getting down early. They left a bunch of runners on base, weren’t getting key hits. It reminded me of the Padres! But when they did start coming back, they were doing almost everything with two outs. I could hardly believe what was going on right in front of my eyes. I was sort of resigning to the fact that the Rays were going to win, mostly because of the announcers (ahem!), who were talking as if the Rays had already won. (Of course, their colors changed when the Sox came back.) I wasn’t really giving up on them, but I was preparing myself for a loss. But then they rallied back, and I was super excited. I’m actually in Arizona right now on vacation, and I was in the hotel room, pumping my fist, trying not to scream too loud. It was so amazing that it was funny. I enjoyed that game so much. People are going to talk about it for days.

Now the Red Sox have a second chance. They’re going to play another game tomorrow night at Tampa, and they’re throwing Josh Beckett against James Shields. Now the question is, what can’t this team do? They’ve come back to win the World Series twice after being down 3-0 or 3-1. They’ve started it this year. Tampa’s leading by 3 games to 2, but we must wonder how safe that lead is. With this Boston team, nothing is impossible.   

  

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