We were stuck in Dodger Stadium traffic but weren’t on our way to the deservedly hyped Clayton Kershaw/Tim Lincecum pitching matchup (probably just as well). We had tickets to see the pilot of a sitcom that hopefully will air this fall. I’m not a fan of the genre, but this show has a great cast and was damn funny.
No worries… I’d set the DVR before we left. I even had it record for an extra hour just in case the game ran long, which it did.
One problem: ESPN didn’t broadcast the game in the San Diego market. When I got home, around 1 a.m. on Friday, I had the final inning of some other game (Yankees/Tigers?) followed by a boatload of basketball highlights.
Basketball. Really? People watch that?
From what I can tell, Maybin’s blast was the first game-tying homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth on Opening Day in Padres history. The only other time the Padres did that in the season’s first month was on April 11, 1991, when Marty Barrett took San Francisco’s Dave Righetti deep to tie the game, 9-9. The Padres ended up losing, 11-9. (Steve Finley famously hit a game-winner in ’98, but that’s a different thing).
Oddly specific? Yup. Cool beyond words? Yup.
Speaking of Maybin, I was supposed to write an article for ESPN identifying the Padres’ “X-factor” this season but I ran out of time and it never got published (entirely my fault). My X-factor was Maybin, and in light of his Opening Day heroics, I thought I’d quote from the working draft:
He was a stud in the minors but hasn’t done much in his big-league trials. Still, Maybin is 24 years old and there’s a lot to like.
The Padres are in a funny place right now. On the one hand, I suspect they’ll do better than many folks expect (I keep hearing fourth place, which is a step up from last year’s predictions of fifth place, which preceded a 90-win season) and they could contend again. On the other, it’s vital given the financial state of the ballclub for them to maintain a solid long-term vision.
If Maybin develops into the player the Tigers thought he was when they picked him 10th overall in 2005, the Padres won’t have to worry about center field — a difficult position to fill — for a while. If not, then they get to hope that one of Reymond Fuentes, Donavan Tate, or Blake Tekotte turns into something. I don’t need to explain the difference between having hope and having a solution.
I still people folks lamenting the loss of Tony Gwynn Jr. Maybin is Gwynn’s equal with the glove and has offensive upside that Gwynn can’t imagine. I don’t know what to tell those people other than keep watching.
On the Cardinals’ side, Albert Pujols went 0-for-5 and grounded into three double plays, which was not only unexpected but also beautiful. Only Joe Torre has hit into more double plays in a game, and a mere 24 players have pulled the trifecta in the past decade.
Thanks for that.
Meanwhile, the Padres are assured of finishing no worse than 1-161 in 2011. Dude, if that doesn’t get you pumped… go watch basketball or something.
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- The 32 Best Players in Baseball for 2011 (SI.com). No Padres make Joe Posnanski’s list, although one guy who used to play here did. I’ll let you guess who. Nice to see my sleeper pick for AL MVP (Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo) check in at no. 25. Caveat about my sleeper AL MVP picks: In the past, I’ve gone with guys like Grady Sizemore and Nick Markakis… so, yeah.
- Comparing 2011 Division Projections (Baseball Analysts). You can find the team that led the NL West for almost all of 2010 down near the bottom.
- How often does neither starting pitcher get a decision? (Baseball-Reference). A little less than a quarter of the time in 2010. Not sure how significant this is, but I find it interesting.
- Timing The Trots For Six Famous Home Runs; Or, Bo Jackson Will Blow Your Mind (Deadspin). The footage of 75-year-old Luke Appling taking Warren Spahn deep in an old-timers game at RFK is awesome. [h/t BBTF]
- A New Delivery (Baseball Prospectus). Congrats and welcome to my colleague Christina Kahrl, who is joining ESPN’s SweetSpot.
- Maybin, victory (Inside the Padres). Tom Krasovic gives his take on the opener. He also chats with Craig Elsten at 619Sports about all things Padres.
- A Pitch F/x Primer: Some tips on Run Values, Pitch Classifications, and Heat Maps (Beyond the Box Score). If you want to get your hands dirty…