The heartbreak of being a Padres fan.
The San Diego Padres are not a baseball team that many people give much thought to due to the fact that they are a small market team on the West Coast lacking franchise success in terms of post-season achievements. Many fans can not name 5 players currently on the Padres roster due to their lack of “superstars” and their decision to embrace the youth movement which often comes hand in hand with teams in rebuild mode.
Being a San Diego sports fan is a tradition in my family. To this day I still bond with my Father and Grandmother over the Padres. In fact, my Grandmother is in her late 80’s and still a Padres fan. During my childhood, my parents, older half-brothers, and Grandmother all filled my head with various stories about the Padres that still resonate with me. Hearing stories about watching the Padres prior to their MLB debut in 1969 while still part of the PCL blew my mind. Hearing my Dad quote Jerry Coleman (“Oh, Doctor!” & “You can hang a star on that baby!”) will always entertain me and bring me joy. Stories about players with names like Nate Colbert, Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith, Goose Gossage (My Mom’s favorite player), Rollie Fingers, Dave Winfield, and Randy Jones all held my attention and captivated my imagination at a very young age. I still retain these stories in my memory bank and always will.
When I discovered Baseball around 1987 or 1988 I quickly found a baseball hero of my own and his name was Tony Gwynn. I could be wrong but I believe my Grandmother thinks Tony Gwynn is a saint and she has every right to believe so as he is still the one shining beacon of joy, hope, and pride that Padres fans never lost or felt betrayed by. Even with potential free agency looming at the end of contracts and when being pursued by large market teams such as the Yankees; he stayed with San Diego more than once and often for below market value. Unfortunately this is where the joy for many Padres fans end.
I am now 32 years old and I started to follow the Padres around the age of 8. What this means is that I have 24 years of baseball heartbreak in some shape or form. I’m not implying that this heartbreak is as bad as what Red Sox fans went through during their 86 year drought or what Cubs fans have gone through since 1908. That would be ridiculous to compare the teams as the Padres are only entering their 44th year in Major League Baseball. It has not been easy though.
In my years as a Padres fan there have been a number of heartbreaking moments that still do not sit well with me and that is the purpose of this blog post; to list my most heartbreaking Padres moments. If you see the list and wonder why I did not list the 1984 or 1998 World Series defeats, the answer is easy: they were not heartbreaking for me. I was too young to remember the 1984 World Series and I never thought for a moment that the Padres could beat the Yankees in 1998. I was just happy to see them in the World Series and to see them get National recognition and respect.
So with all this said, I now give you my most heartbreaking moments a Padres fan in a somewhat chronological order:
-The Padres 1992-1993 fire sale.
I was too young to completely understand what was going on but there were 2 things which were very apparent to me. The first is that all of the Padres stars were being shipped off at an alarming rate with the exception of Tony Gwynn. The 2nd being that to this day my Dad has never said or heard the name “Tom Werner” without following it up with an explicit name not to be said around those easily offended. I too have inherited this trait from him and would like to think if I ever met Werner I would give him a piece of my mind.
The only positive aspect of the fire sale was that we got Trevor Hoffman. Andy Ashby may have been good for awhile but not good enough to erase the sting of the team getting gutted. (Screen capture courtesy of Baseball-Reference)
-Cardinals defeating SD in the 1996, 2005, and 2006 NLDS.
With the exception of 1998, I have not personally seen the Padres win a playoff series. I have seen the Cardinals knock out my Padres on 3 different occasions. To add insult to injury, out of all 3 playoff series the Padres have only managed to win one game (Game 3 of the 2006 NLDS ). I must admit that this post-season domination by St. Louis is both embarrassing and frustrating.
With that said, I must proclaim from the bottom of my heart that Chris Young will forever have my respect and admiration for his performance during Game 3 of the 2006 NLDS. (Screen capture courtesy of MLB)
-October 1st, 2007: Game 163 against the Rockies.
An extra inning battle which was settled in the 13th inning after Trevor Hoffman blew a save and was rocked to the tune of 3 runs for a final score of 9-8. I really thought we had this one nailed shut when Scott Hairston crushed a home run in the top of the 13th inning off of Jorge Julio. Unfortunately the Baseball gods thought otherwise.
I will always be somewhat bitter towards Umpire Tim McClelland and will forever hold the stance that Matt Holliday did not touch the plate. It’s safe to say that it STILL hurts when I think about this night.
-Losing Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy.
- 2008 opening day payroll: over $73 million.
- 2009 opening day payroll: under $43 million.
- 2010 opening day payroll: under $38 million.
After reading the payrolls above, you may be asking yourself how did the Padres payroll drop so dramatically in such a short period of time? Well, the majority of the blame is to be pointed at soon to be former owner of the Padres, John Moores. His nasty divorce screwed the Padres in terms of payroll and led to him beginning the selling process of the team in early 2009. Add this to an outdated television deal and the results were a financial nightmare for San Diego with the main casualties being Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez as the Padres were in not able to retain their stars through this transition period. Thankfully, the completed purchase of the Padres and new TV deal should be finished in the next couple weeks.
It still stings to see the both of them in other uniforms, especially Peavy as he is without a doubt my favorite Pitcher in Baseball.
Note to owners: Don’t be idiots in regards to your marital affairs, it can and will screw your team in some way shape or form as both the Padres & Dodgers can attest.
-Trevor Hoffman leaving San Diego.
Trevor Hoffman was the face of the Padres after Tony Gwynn retired and he should have played out the rest of his career in San Diego. This did not happen. Take the above mentioned payroll issues into consideration along with the fact that now former Padres CEO Sandy Alderson is a egomaniac with an attitude problem who retracted a contract offer to Hoffman. What you have left is Trevor playing his last 2 seasons with the Brewers.
Much like Tom Werner, I wish nothing but failure for Sandy Alderson in regards to the rest of his career in Baseball.
-The 2010 late season collapse.
This still stings. 2010 could have been in many ways the Padres unexpected year of greatness. Overall it was a very good year but a monumental 10 game losing streak late in the season smack in the middle of a division race will screw any team. Add that to a loss to the Giants on the final day of the season and their chances of the post-season were destroyed.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the loss on the final day of the season fell on my birthday? It was a birthday that I will never forget although it is one that I would love to as I was almost brought to tears by the team’s collapse.