A couple of days ago, I attempted to lift the spirits of my fellow Padres fans by posting the ten best moments in San Diego Padres history. However, being a Friar fan has been traditionally defined by sporadic tastes of glory matched up to prolonged periods of misery.
Consider this a return to reality.
10. The Padres miss the playoffs by a fake run
This wound is still open, so much so that I've spent the last 15 minutes trying to find the replay again.
You can't blame this one fully on a blown call, as Jake Peavy—San Diego's ace—was less than stellar, and Trevor Hoffman, the MLB's all-time saves leader, was unable to close out the game as he gave up three runs while recording a whopping one out.
Expansion teams are expected to be bad in the first few years they exist. This was especially true in the era before free agency. The Padres came in to the league a few years before Curt Flood made his famous case for freedom, and the Friars got steadily better when they were able to buy talent instead of relying solely on their farm system.
Even then, in their first six seasons—the Padres lost more than 100 games in four of their seasons. In 1970—when they didn't lose 100 times—they lost 99 times. In 1972, a strike prevented them from losing more than 95 games. Until 1978, the Padres' topped out at a lofty 73-89.
8. Roseanne "sings" the Star-Spangled Banner
In the early 90's, the Padres were owned by a group that included TV producer Tom Werner. As part of a publicity stunt to boost ratings for one of his shows, Mr. Werner decided to choose one of his stars to sing the National Anthem. It's not uncommon for actors to be good singers, so Werner made a logical choice by having Roseanne Barr sing The Star-Spangled Banner.
Yup. That Roseanne Barr.
I have a feeling that if anyone tried something like that today, they'd be halfway to Guantanamo before they could finish a verse.
6. Padres select Matt Bush No. 1 in 2004
One thing you can look forward to every year if your team is terrible is having the first crack at the nation's most talented amateurs via the MLB draft.
In 2004, San Diego set a record for lazy scouting by drafting San Diego native Matt Bush with the No. 1 pick. In four years, Bush has: been suspended before playing a single game, broken his ankle and missed half a season, been switched to pitcher from his original position of shortstop, and, torn a ligament in his throwing arm and thus not being able to play again until at least 2009.
Other members of the 2004 draft class? Stephen Drew, Jered Weaver, Jeremy Sowers, Taylor Tankersley and Blake DeWitt.
5. The 1998 World Series
In the regular season, San Diego had trounced the opposition, finishing the regular season with a franchise record 98 wins. In the playoffs, they defeated favored Houston in four games and heavily favored Atlanta in six. The Padres featured All-Stars Tony Gwynn, Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, Andy Ashby and Greg Vaughn—as well as former MVP Ken Caminiti.
All of this meant exactly diddly when the Padres squared off against one of the best single season teams in modern history: The 1998 New York Yankees, who had won 114 games in the regular season (a record until 2001), had a pitcher throw a perfect game, employed the AL's batting champion and had also sent five players to the All-Star Game.
Despite the Padres' Goliath slaying in the playoffs, they were promptly swept by New York and forced to watch them celebrate in their own stadium.
4. Dock Ellis no-hits the Pads...on LSD
In baseball, you usually have an advantage if the pitcher can't get a good feel on the ball, is having trouble seeing the catcher—and is freaking stoned out of his mind. Not the San Diego Padres, who couldn't get a single hit against a guy who sometimes felt he was throwing a balloon or a volleyball at home plate.
One fine day in 1970, despite walking eight batters, hitting one and loading the bases twice—Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter after taking copious amounts of marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines and a large dose of "Purple Haze" acid. Maybe a Padres pitcher should try that some day, because...
3. As of 2008, the Padres haven't had a pitcher throw a no-hitter in franchise history.
Or had a batter hit for the cycle. That's at least one pitcher going out to the mound every game in 162 games a year. In 40 years. Think that's bad? You have nine batters having an average of four, sometimes five chances a game (okay, other times it's three). For 40 years.
2. A playoff team with a losing record?
In 2005, the NL West was terrible. So terrible, in fact that it took San Diego just 82 wins to clinch a playoff spot by taking the division. After barely finishing over .500 in the regular season, the Padres played a tough St. Louis team (that had won more than 82 games) in the NLDS.
Understandably, the Padres got swept. Laughably, the Padres became the first team ever to make the playoffs and have their combined record be under .500 by season's end.
1. Trades and Fire Sales
It's hard to blame the Padres futility and sad history on bad breaks or even a curse. Not when over the course of history you've done your best to stock every other team in baseball with talented players.
For prices ranging from magic beans to a new robe for the Swingin' Friar, the Padres have traded away the following players they've either developed fully or acquired through grace of God:
The Alomar brothers, (Roberto and Sandy, Jr.) Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez, Matt Clement, Joey Cora and Joe Carter.
Not impressed? Okay.
Oliver Perez, Jack Cust, Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady, Jason Bay—and Ozzie Smith. With our luck, we'll trade away Matt Bush and he'll become the next Sandy Koufax.
Dishonorable mentions: Randy Myers is picked up to block his trade to Atlanta, Pads owner Ray Kroc apologizes over the loudspeaker for the terrible performance of his players, the 1994 strike kills Tony Gwynn's chance to hit .400, Padres get no-hit twice in the same season. At home. The 1993 season. The 2008 season.