As the baseball playoffs begin the Padres are home for the first time since 2004. That’s right, they don’t have the opportunity to get trounced in the first round of the playoffs. It’s been nothing if not a turbulent year for the home team. At the beginning of the year the “smart money” said that this would be the year for the Padres or the Dodgers. Many expected that one would win the division and the other would be the wild card; instead the Padres placed 3rd in the NL West. Now the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies are heading toward the World Series.
All season the Padres have relied on their pitching and have suffered from mediocre hitting. Unfortunately toward the end of the season when the arms started to get tired they had nothing to back them up. Jake Peavy was wonderful and is probably the strongest contender for the NL Cy Young award. But the last game against the Rockies was one of his worst outings and he just looked tired. I think Chris Young will be the pitcher who will finally give the Padres their long awaited no hitter. He had a strong start but he just couldn’t bounce back from a strained oblique in late July. Greg Maddux has always been a great pitcher to watch but he’s clearly in the sunset of his career and may have made his best contribution in working with some of the younger pitchers. The saddest part of this season may well be future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. He had 42 saves this year and holds the Major League record of 524 saves over his career but two of the Padres’ last three defeats were because Trevor blew the save. Unfortunately if you’re the team’s closer you’re either the hero or the goat and nothing in between. Trevor has been crackerjack because he relies on only two pitches: his fastball and his changeup. They are essentially the same pitch but have vastly different speeds; I’m beginning to wonder if he isn’t losing a few miles per hour on his fastball thereby diminishing the difference between the two pitches.
In any case I will chant the baseball fan’s mantra of “wait till next year.” I categorized this as “celebrating” because every baseball season is a celebration and I’m glad I came along for the ride. Pitchers and catchers report in four months.