Knowing that a Red Sox convention had descended on downtown and that our usual parking option was unavailable, we left our car about 2 1/2 miles from the ballpark. After machaca and black coffee at Jimmy Carter’s Cafe, we slipped over to Sixth and walked along the perimeter of Balboa Park, with its impromptu soccer games, yippy little dogs, and obligatory crazy people.
Jets fly overhead on final approach to Lindbergh Field. The freeway sounds like a swift river that empties into the Pacific.
We arrived at Petco Park a little over an hour before first pitch. The sea of red was undeniable and somewhat disheartening. A part of me admired these fans for traveling to support their team in distant lands, but a bigger part of me resented them for taking over our house like forgotten cousins that suddenly appear at the doorstep, invite themselves in, and raid the refrigerator.
I had a chip on my shoulder. Perhaps, like Derrek Lee and the Cubs a week earlier, I was looking for trouble. I’m happy to report that I found none.
The game (recap | boxscore), except for its final outcome, was everything I’d hoped it would be. Both teams battled to the end and gave fans of either affiliated cause to cheer. Of course, everyone booed the few, confused souls who donned Yankee pinstripes. Why were they there, and what had they expected?
On a day when Jake Peavy didn’t have his best stuff and the defense seemingly lost sight of its purpose, the Padres kept Boston close all game and stayed within striking distance until the final out. They never overcame the Red Sox, but that happens a lot when you’re playing a great team.
We can focus on the frustrations of a single game, or we can step back and watch a larger picture emerge. Three games were played this weekend. Two were coin tosses that could’ve gone either way, and the Red Sox took both of ‘em. It’s intellectually dishonest to attribute their success in those victories solely to “luck” — great teams, by definition, win games.
|Stats are through games of June 24, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.|
It also is worth noting that the only time one team dominated the other came on Saturday night, and the Padres were the aggressor. This current squad is too good to be content with “moral victories,” and coming on the heels of a disappointing series against the Orioles, it would’ve been nice to win two out of three over the weekend. That said, the Padres for the most part came to play. Even on Sunday, when they weren’t at their best, they stuck around and gave themselves a chance.
Equally heartening is the fact that the fans came to cheer. On Sunday, the chants of “Let’s Go, Red Sox” began in the first inning and never relented. Each time, though, chants of “Let’s Go, Padres” overcame them. We may not be the most vocal folks all the time, but it’s good to know we’ve got it if we need it.
Kudos to the Boston fans as well. I’d prepared for the worst — loudmouth drunks who get in your face every chance they get — but in our section, that wasn’t the case. They simply cheered their guys early and often. There was a minor incident just behind us, but both parties were being idiots and they could’ve been supporting any team. The situation never escalated, though, and everyone quickly returned focus to the field.
After the game, we stopped at Ra for sushi and to rest before trekking back to the car. The fish was excellent, as usual, and both of us welcomed the respite from an ever-glaring sun.
Bellies filled and spirits restored, we walked along Fourth, across the bridge that passes over I-5, past churches and medical buildings, and into my old neighborhood of Bankers Hill. I lived there during the early-’90s, across from Hob Nob Hill, two blocks north of the flight path, three blocks west of the park, and within crawling distance of the Casbah.
The apartment I lived in was built just after the turn of the 20th century. It’s a neat building whose units come with hardwood floors, metal radiators for heating (if one unit is heated, they all are), and giant windows for viewing derelicts from the park beating each other up in the street.
I didn’t own much then. A computer. A television. Some books. A cat inherited from my uncle. A hanging plant inherited from the previous occupant. A blue mat on the floor for sleeping.
Still, as we walked past the old digs, I felt a certain fondness for it. Seeing this again reminded me of where I’d been and how far I’d come since then.
A similar framework informs my view of the Padres. I often think about where they have been and how far they’ve come. When I remember how dreadful this franchise has been for most of its existence, I feel grateful for our current situation. At the same time, having lived through some lean years, I’m quite certain I don’t wish to do so again. Seems to me, viewing from the outside, that the Padres have adopted the same attitude toward the darker parts of their history.
This is a strong, resilient ballclub. It sucks that the Red Sox took the series over the weekend, but stuff happens — ask the Yankees about their recent trip to Coors Field. There’s a lot of season yet to be played. This doesn’t mean the Padres shouldn’t feel a sense of urgency — they should — but we’re in for a year-long fight here.
Do I sound overly optimistic after a losing homestand? Maybe. I’ll be honest — sometimes my own optimism disgusts me, but I’m not the punk-ass I was 15-20 years ago (well, okay, a little bit), and where once I complained endlessly about things well beyond my control, now I appreciate the view on the way up and how much better it is than what I used to look at all the time.
Am I satisfied? Not even close. Nothing short of a World Series victory will satisfy me. At the same time, and at the risk of beating this to death, I have to remember where we’ve been. I have to remember when all we had was someone else’s cat, someone else’s hanging plant, and little blue mat on the floor for sleeping. These things remind us where we’ve been and where we’re going. Most importantly, they remind us that we cannot stop advancing until literally there is no place left to go, when the only action that remains is the placing of rings on fingers.
That’s what I want. Maybe I’m asking for too much, but I don’t think so.
by Peter Friberg
You will not see your shortstop and left fielder collide, or your pitcher sliding into third while trying to catch a relay throw and apply a tag while reading the PPR…
Friday, June 22, 2007
Pete LaForest: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 3 RBI; HR (#17!), SO
Nick Hundley: 4 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2B
Cesar Ramos: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
Matt Antonelli: 5 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; 2 SO
David Freese: 4 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI;
Kyle Blanks: 3 AB, 0 R 1 H, 0 RBI; SB
Cedric Hunter: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI
Luis Martinez: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2 2B, BB, SO
Jeremy McBride: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 HR – nice debut!
Jeudy Valdez: 5 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 3 RBI; 2B, 3B – no idea…
Matt Bush: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR – call it a “comeback”
I have no idea who Jeudy Valdez is…
From the San Diego Union Tribune on Saturday, “Making his pitching debut in the Arizona Summer League yesterday, converted shortstop Matt Bush threw 94-98 mph, striking out two in a scoreless, 12-pitch inning.” And before you go thinking those radar-readings are Padre-friendly, I talked to one source and his report had Bush at 94-97…
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Ryan Ketchner: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR
No significant performances
David Freese: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; BB, SO
Kyle Blanks: 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; SO
Chad Huffman: 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; BB
Nic Crosta: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 4 RBI; 2 SO, SF
Manny Ayala: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR
Cedric Hunter: 3 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; BB, 2 CS, SF
Danny Payne: 5 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; SB
Mat Latos: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR
No game scheduled
I’m surprised Kellen Kulbacki hasn’t made his debut yet.
Did anyone else notice that Ryan Ketchner is on the 40-man roster (and he wasn’t even in the Padres organization last year)? I decided to look into him further… He’s got a heck of a story and furthermore, he’s a heck of a pitcher. I’m a little concerned about his highish walk total. But he is in his first full season coming off of Tommy John surgery. His ERA is deceptively high and Saturday night, he was a tough-luck loser yet again (in 13 of his 15 games, Ryan left game with his offense having given him 2 runs or fewer of run support). Appropriately, despite giving up only 2 runs in 7 innings Saturday night, his offense only mustered 1. Guys, don’t let his 0-8 record and 4.58 ERA fool you, if the Padres need an emergency starter, he’s on the short list of Triple-A candidates.
Danny Payne has now played in 5 games. In those 5 games, Payne has 24 plate appearances. In those 24 PA, Payne has 7 hits (15 at-bats) and 9 walks. Freakish! Now those rates .467 BA and .667 OBP can’t be maintained, that is his game. I listed to a few minutes of the Emeralds’ game on the internet and happened to catch a Payne AB, he now has a streak of reaching base in 82 consecutive games between college and professional baseball (Ted Williams owns the professional streak at 84 games).
Latos’ line doesn’t look like you’d want it to, but it’s just nice to see his name in a box score.
Sunday June 24, 2007
Vince Sinisi: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI
Pete LaForest: 1 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 3 BB, SO
Tim Stauffer: 5.1 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR – weird…
Will Venable: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI
Matt Antonelli: 3 AB, 1 H, 1 R, 1 RBI; HR, BB, SB
David Freese: 2 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; HR, BB, SB
Kyle Blanks: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; 2 BB, SO, CS
Nic Crosta: 3 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 3 RBI; HR, 2 BB, SO
Daryl Jones: 4 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 2 RBI; HR
Rayner Contreras: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2B
Drew Miller: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR
Ernesto Frieri: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR
Luis Durango: 3 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2 BB, SB
Danny Payne: 3 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 2 BB, 1 SO
Cody Pickett: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 2 HR, SO
Yefri Carvajal: 4 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; BB, SB
Jeudy Valdez: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 2B, 3B, BB
I have to figure out who Jeudy Valdez is…
Thanks, Peter. The Padres head to San Francisco, where they play the first of three Monday night. We’ll have the IGD up and running by 6 p.m. or thereabouts. Go Padres!