Adios, 2007

It’s the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine. Last year at this time, I ran a list of the most popular articles at Ducksnorts in 2006. This time around, I thought I’d try something a little different and give you a list of my favorite articles from 2007, i.e., ones I enjoyed writing the most. I hope you like them, too:

Kevin KouzmanoffWinter Warm-Up: Temecula. In January, the Padres hosted a free event in Temecula to get fans of the Padres and the Lake Elsinore Storm fired up for the coming season. Several players and San Diego icon Randy Jones participated in a Q&A with Storm radio broadcaster Sean McCall. Among other things, we learned that the first two home runs Jones allowed in the big leagues came off the bats of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, that Paul McAnulty grew up idolizing Andre Dawson, and that Clay Hensley likes chicken piccata. We also got our first look at some new Padres, including left-hander Justin Hampson and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Khalil GreeneGreene Feels at Home Away from Home. In March we tackled the issue of Khalil Greene‘s severe home/road splits. I’ve re-run the numbers after the 2007 season, and those results will be presented in the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual; the short version is that, for his career, Greene hits like a cross between Kevin Elster and Dale Sveum at Petco Park, and like Alfonso Soriano away from San Diego.

Chris OxspringWeekend in Peoria: Everything but the Games. Toward the end of March, several of us met up in Peoria to watch our Padres prepare for the season. We got our first glimpse at many of the young prospects, and reader Didi and I inadvertently ran into ex-Padre Chris Oxspring, who was in camp with the Brewers. We chatted with Oxspring briefly and wished him luck. He was, as I’d remembered from sitting near him behind home plate while he charted pitches at Elsinore some years before, a personable guy whom I wanted to see succeed.

Jake PeavyPeavy, Padres Roll in Opener. There’s nothing like Opening Day. Jake Peavy and company spun the team’s first ever shutout in an opener, and Bud Black earned his first win as a manager at any level. Everything seemed possible in April. It always does.

Greg MadduxPadres Drop 2007 Home Opener. The Padres lost, but Mrs. Ducksnorts and I enjoyed excellent sushi before the game, Greg Maddux looked terrific in his San Diego debut, and Heath Bell caused me to wonder why the Mets had given up on him. Most importantly, baseball had come back to town.

A Lot Can Go Wrong in a Game. This one wasn’t exactly “fun” to write, but it’s instructive to re-read. Anyone who believes that Tony Gwynn Jr. or Matt Holliday ruined the Padres season needs to understand that winnable games lost in April were at least as much to blame.

'Welcome Ducksnorts' scoreboard message at Petco ParkWe also had some good monthly roundtable discussions with other Padres bloggers: April, May (Part 1 and Part 2), June. I ran out of steam after the All-Star break and stopped doing these. Guess I need to work on my conditioning. ;-)

Kouz Control. Speaking of Kouzmanoff (which we were a few paragraphs back, remember?), this is when I first started to think the Padres really might have something. I loved watching him develop over the course of the season.

As Urban Legends Go, This One Is Full of Kruk. John Kruk thinks the Padres have retired #44. Evidently he hasn’t seen it on the back of the NL Cy Young Award winner.

Some Pictures Are Bigger Than Others. A disappointing series against the Red Sox reminded me of how my expectations as a fan have changed over the years and that it’s important to remember where we’ve been. Nowhere is it written that life has to be this good.

'Hall of Fame induction ceremony crowdIn July, I drove to Cooperstown for Tony Gwynn’s Hall of Fame induction. A full recap will appear in the 2008 Annual, but parts already have been chronicled here:

Honestly, this trip beat the crap out of me, but now that I’ve had a few months to think about it, I’m pretty sure I’ll do it again when Trevor has his day.

Scott HairstonTrade Deadline Post-Mortem. The Padres made a lot of moves this past summer. In separate deals, they acquired Michael Barrett, Milton Bradley, Joe Thatcher, Scott Hairston, Rob Mackowiak, and Morgan Ensberg. All but Barrett and Mackowiak contributed in a big way down the stretch.

Parsing Peavy. This one just makes me feel like an idiot and serves as a reminder that maybe it’s not always good to read too much into someone’s words.

Ducksnorts logo, ca. 2001
Decade of Ducksnorts. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary in September, which makes me feel very… old.

Kyle BlanksStorm Watch: Elsinore Takes Lead in Series against Lancaster. Once again, we had more good times this year trekking up to Lake Elsinore, where many of the Padres’ top prospects played at least part of the season in 2007. With luck, we’ll see some of these kids in San Diego on a regular basis before long.

Reality: You’re Soaking in It. And of course, our inevitable frustration at the way the season ended. Not pleasant, but important to remember. Keeps us hungry and what-not.

Mike CameronAfter the season, we attempted to tackle one of the biggest issues facing the Padres over the winter: what to do with center field now that Mike Cameron‘s current contract had ended. First we identified some basic requirements for playing the position at Petco Park, then we examined the defensive abilities of available options, discussed what types of hitters might thrive in San Diego, and considered what it might cost to acquire targets we’d identified.

We also had a nice chat with singer/songwriter/Padres fan Steve Poltz: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. We wandered all over the place in our discussion, but this is the most fun I’ve ever had interviewing someone, and I’m honored that Steve spent so much time talking about his passions with us.

Finally, we wrapped up the baseball analysis by looking at Black’s first year as manager — specifically, how it compared to Bruce Bochy’s last — and naming our Top 10 prospects for 2008.


Well, that was fun. We should do it again sometime, eh?

Happy New Year and stuff…

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11 Responses »

  1. Nice to take a trip down memory lane here. GaslampBall did this a couple weeks ago and it’s amazing to see where we went this year. I’m so freakin amped for the season.

    Anyone making any baseball=related trips this year like ST or anything? My family and I are going to Chase Field in April for the first AZ series there and we’re heading up to Safeco in May to support our boys against our natural rivals.

  2. Those trips sound great, Phantom. Have you been to Safeco before? It is a great park, nice location and Seattle is one of my favorite cities. Enjoy!

    I’m going to try to get to AZ for an ST trip. Maybe we can get a DS crew together in Peoria.

  3. 2: I’ve never been to Safeco before, and I’m really looking forward to it. My dad’s been there before and he has nice things to say about it.

    I’m also pretty excited about going to Chase Field. I almost feel like the D-Backs are a bigger rival of ours now than the Dodgers. Even though I still hate the Dodgers.

  4. When I have my kids this summer, we are actually going to try to make it to San Diego for a week and take in a game or two. I’ve been a fan since Garvey came over and have never been able to see a Padres home game.

    Happy New Year everyone.

  5. 3: I’m sure you’ll enjoy them both, but I just enjoy Seattle much more than Phoenix purely in terms of them as cities and not talking baseball at all.

    4: Sounds great, Charles. Good luck with your plans. Happy New Year!

  6. I’m hoping to make it to New York for the Padres series in June. I’ll definitely trek it out to see Yankee stadium at some point over the summer, I’m just not sure if I’ll be able to go when the Padres are in town.

    Also, the fam is planning to visit Cooperstown when they come over the East Coast to see me.

  7. This way off on a tangent, but I was watching a replay of the retiring of David Concepcion’s #13 for the Cincinnati Reds and chuckled a bit when, i

  8. This way off on a tangent, but I was watching a replay of the retiring of David Concepcion’s #13 for the Cincinnati Reds and chuckled a bit when, in his speech in front of the Reds faithful, he thanked none other than former Padre Kurt Bevacqua for being such a great teamate and showing him the ropes when he was a 19 year old minor leaguer in the Reds system. I guess the lesson here is that every young man you draft or sign needs to not only have the potential to be a good player but also be a good person and team guy as well.

  9. 4:

    Charles, I have been a fan since Garvey, too.

    I have been to San Diego once, for a week in 1997. I watched Garvey wrap up the batting title that year.

  10. 9: Who are you and what have you done with Kevin?

    Perhaps you watched Gwynn wrap up a batting title in 1997, but I seriously doubt if you watched Garvey do so. :-)

  11. That’s what I meant.