Last month I wrote about chirping.
This month’s topic is bitching. Yours. End it.
Andy Green should be fired. A.J. Preller has to go. Where’s Bruce Bochy? Keel-haul Kinsler (fans, please, eff-bomb Ian is not worth the angst – see my May 20 Tweet).
Can’t you see how amazing this season has been already?
After 50 games the Friars are two games above .500 and in second place in the NL West. Who among us in January would not have taken that as a gift from the faceless, historically indifferent baseball Gods?
Yes, the Padres have lost too many games to the hated Dodgers. One loss is too many. Face it. The Dodgers are damn good. What we know is we have pushed the Dodgers in every game. The home series sounded and felt like the playoffs. Have you forgotten that already? Have you forgotten Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off bomb with the bases loaded? Wicked amperage is now part of the ticket price. Have you already taken this precious rarity for granted?
Do you not appreciate how tough the Padres have been without Fernando Tatis Jr.? Tatis suffered a severe hamstring injury April 28 and the Padres have been without his glove, bat, speed, hustle and verve for nearly a month – and faltered only slightly. Tatis Jr. is an amazing talent with an infectious joy for the game and uncommon youthful confidence. A loss of that magnitude would crater most teams as young as the Padres. That it hasn’t is a testament to Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and Andy Green – stalwarts who know this team has unappreciated depth, talent and more moxie than a Padre club in a decade.
Can you believe Kirby Yates? People, Yates had 20 saves through 50 games, a first in franchise history. Yates had 20 saves before the end of May – also a Padres first (the March beginning of the season creates a bit of an asterisk here). Let me remind you…… the Padres claimed Yates OFF OF WAIVERS on April 26, 2017. Waivers. That means he was literally plucked from the scrap heap. A scrub. Ballast. But wait….. Yates studied under Brad Hand and has become this season’s elite closer and All-Star lock. C’mon!! How great is that?
The Padres are the youngest team in the NL. The average age of Padres batters through 50 games this year is 26.6. The league average is 28.5. The average age of Padres pitchers is 26.9, the second youngest in the NL (the league average is 28.6.) This youthful team leads the NL in comeback wins with 13. The Friars also have a record of 13-6 in one-run games, staggering for a club this young.
The staff ERA is 3.86 through 50 games, fourth best in the NL. The NL ERA average is 4.19. If, before Opening Day, you projected this club would have a team ERA this much below the league average YOU… ARE… A… LIAR. It is almost inconceivable a team with arms as young as this would be this competitive. I must tell you, I was terrified of the month of May. I feared by then scouting reports would have made the rounds and our roster of newbie starters would be exposed for their youthful flaws and batters would feast. Some of that happened. But our starters have, for the most part, held it together and made adjustments. In San Diego, Chris Paddack is a borderline star with his own T-shirt (in the proper color, by the way).
Offensively, the Padres have been a bit underwhelming, but also very clutch. Our team numbers are pretty flat – Batting average .225; On-base percentage .287; Slugging percentage .403 and On-base plus slugging percentage .691. Ho-hum. Even worse, the Padres strikeout (483) the most and walk (124) the least in the NL. We don’t steal very much – 16 bases – and we get thrown out a lot – 10 times. The Padres have also grounded into 40 double plays – second highest in the NL. And yet, the Padres have left only 273 runners on base – the lowest in the NL. Clutch hitting plates runners and the Padres have been clutch enough to go 26-24 while scoring 188 runs and giving up 207. The Friars have a negative run differential of 22 or -0.4 per game (the Dodgers run differential is plus 62 or +1.2). That the Friars are only six games back with this disparity is encroaching on miraculous.
Watching is fun. Listening is fun. Going to Petco is electrifying. We sit on the edge of our seats. The energy is contagious. The sense of possibility palpable. The gloom is gone. No more slouching. We no longer assume the worst. Have you forgotten that hopeless default mindset?
This is baseball. We are winning. The team is young. Statistically, the Friars are defying gravity.
And…. It’s San Diego.
Major Garrett was born and raised in Clairemont, is Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News, host of “The Takeout” podcast and author of the book “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams and Occasional Blackouts of His Extraordinary First Year in Office.”