Lebron James gets a one-hour special to announce his move to Miami. (Something most of us knew even before the special).
Alex Rodriguez has his own segment on their bottom line to show his inefficiencies at the plate between his 599th and 600th home run. (Something no one is really showing any hullabaloo about if you agree with a columnist friend of mine known simply as Knowsbleeds).
The Washington Nationals, a last place team, gets more airtime in one day (depending on which day Stephen Strasburg pitches) than the team at the center of this column gets in a month's time.
With Brett Favre announcing his quote/unquote retirement, it's no doubt every national sports medium will be on "Favre Watch 2010". (Something citizens outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area don't really care about).
... and yet the National League West leading San Diego Padres have gotten no kind of national media love and/or respect.
Am I the only one that thinks this is just a little bit crazy?
The Finest Friars in all the land were the first team in the National League to win 60 games -- an impressive feat considering most people thought the Padres would be the first team to 60 losses. They're 20 games over .500 and lead the NL West by two games over the San Francisco Giants and have better road records than any of the other division contenders or leaders (Braves @ 25-32, Phillies @ 25-31, Reds @ 27-24, Cardinals @ 22-30 & Giants @ 28-25).
Something else you should see (and love if you're a citizen of the San Diego metropolitan area):
- 4-2 vs. Atlanta
- 7-1 vs. San Francisco
- 2-1 vs. St. Louis
- 2-2 vs. Philadelphia
- 2-1 vs. Cincinnati
For those of you scoring at home, that means the Padres are 17-7 against the top teams in the National League, but they aren't getting any of the media coverage that these other teams are getting. Well, as wrestler Owen Hart said when he joined the Nation of Domination:
It's true that the Padres don't play the kind of baseball that blows your skirt up. They're last in just about every offensive category. Adrian Gonzalez is the only Padre that has 20+ home runs, and only one other player before the trade deadline had 10 (Scott Hairston). You know about Adrian Gonzalez, but do you know about Chase Headley? He leads San Diego in runs, hits, doubles and has 13 of the Padres 91 stolen bases.
The Padres added some MUCH NEEDED offense at the deadline (Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Tejada), and I have to say they were pretty smart moves. Ludwick's second halves are pretty impressive (career .281/40/151), so he could just be the protection that A-Gon needs in the lineup. Tejada is what he is at this point of his career. While he's not the same guy that bashed 25-30 HRs a game at a .300 AVG, but he does provide a bit more of a pop than Everth Cabrera or Jerry Hairson, Jr. for that matter.
The Padres do, however, boast a stat that's worth noting: only the Mets have more stolen bases this year, which means that someone finally figured it out that the best way to score runs at PETCO Park is the old fashioned way ... just manufacture runs, baby. This team could remind you of the 2003 Florida Marlins. Sure, they had Derrick Lee and Mike Lowell's 31 and 32 home runs, respectively, but they also had three guys who stole 20+ bases -- including Juan Pierre's redonkulous 65 stolen bases.
Know what else about the 2010 San Diego Padres reminds you of the 2003 Florida Marlins: PITCHING! Let's play the comparison game with two pitchers.
- Pitcher A: 16-2, 2.67 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .203 BAA, 126 K
- Pitcher B: 11-4, 2.45 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .195 BAA, 113 K
Pitcher A is pretty obvious (Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez). Pitcher B? How about Mat Latos. Where'd this kid come from! Latos leads the National League in WHIP and BAA. Even more impressive is the stat that among other NL pitchers that have logged 110+ innings or more, he leads the National League in hits allowed (84). Reminds me of how I am when I get a fresh box of Dunkin' Donuts .. STINGY!
As a team, the Padres lead the National League in ERA and WHIP, and they're doing all of this without arguably their best pitcher since Jake Peavy left, Chris Young -- obviously not anymore since Latos's arrival. Jon Garland has trailed off a little since starting the season 6-2, but he's still a serviceable arm as the season gets close to its end.
If those starters get a lead, they get the great fortune of handing the game over to the NL's best bullpen who are just as stingy and filthy as the starters as these numbers would suggest:
- Luke Gregerson: 50 appearances, 2.45 ERA, 0.66 WHIP
- Mike Adams: 42 appearances, 2.18 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
- Edward Mujica: 41 appearances, 2.74 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
- Joe Thatcher: 34 appearances, 1.64 ERA, 0.64 WHIP
Hope diminishes even further if you hear this song. That means that Heath Bell is coming into the game. "Bell's Hell" -- as the top of the ninth is referred to in San Diego -- hasn't made everyone forget about Trevor Hoffman, but old school fans of the Hoff are starting to come around. Kinda easy to do when only two other closers in the majors with 25 or more saves have lower ERAs than Heath Bell's 1.99: Tampa Bay's Rafael Soriano and Atlanta's Billy Wagner.
Memo to the national media drones (i.e. ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, CNN/SI), you have just been put on notice! The San Diego Padres may not have the glitz and glamour that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves or even my hometown Philadelphia Phillies, but like it or not, their record of 62-42 suggests they've been doing something right since the season started. For all of you who thought the Pads would just trail off into obscurity, you were wrong.
It's not too late to give some kudos to this team. America's Finest City will thank you, and their citizens won't hold a grudge, either.