All-Star Game Weekend 2016.

Back in July of last year, my brother and I made the trek to attend the All-Star Game festivities in San Diego. I filled my trip by attending MLB Fanfest (twice), visiting the chaos that was the All-Star Game Street Fair, and going to both the Futures Game and Home Run Derby. In addition to this, I attended the grand opening of the AleSmith Tony Gwynn Museum, which was pretty amazing and possibly my favorite part of the weekend. Needless to say, I was a bit burnt out by the time Tuesday rolled around and I decided to watch the All-Star Game on television.

Since then, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a post about the trip and including some photos, but it just never materialized as it seemed a bit unnecessary. Well, I recently figured out how to create a slideshow and this sparked my interest in sharing my photos from the weekend. These photos are nothing special and were all taken on my iPhone, but still, I figure that some of you will appreciate them – regardless if it’s half a year late. With that said, enjoy the photos and the celebration that was San Diego baseball!

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The Friars of Sports Illustrated.

It’s no secret that the Padres go under the radar in regards to national press. While some take issue with this and are quick to call out the “East Coast Bias,” or something else along those lines, I could care less. Even when they do make the postseason, the Padres are generally viewed as “meh.” Which, from an objective stance, I understand due to the history of the organization and the city they represent. With all this said, you have to admit that when the Padres do get recognition by the larger media outlets, it’s usually pretty cool and memorable. The exception to this, of course, was dealing with the deaths of Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman last year. I think we can all agree that as Padres, this is media recognition that everyone could have done with out due to the heartbreaking nature of it all.

Sports Illustrated is one of the biggest sports publications out there and years ago, I realized a fair amount of Padres had graced the cover of the iconic magazine. In 2010, I decided to create a post on 90 Feet of Perfection with some of these covers. When I realized it wasn’t appropriate for the site, I deleted the post. Oh yeah, I can’t fail to mention that it also sucked and was incomplete, so yeah it had to go. Well, when I created The 5.5 Hole, I thought it would be cool to do it again and right. So here is (as far as I know), every Padre featured on the cover of SI. I hope you enjoy these gems.

July 12th, 1976.
Randy Jones Sports Illustrated
After coming in second to Tom Seaver in Cy Young voting in 1975, Randy Jones was honored with the prestigious pitching award in 1976. Sports Illustrated took notice of the season he was having and gave him the cover in July. Their headline surely jinxed his chances at 30 games though. Speaking of, Jones ended up finishing with a 22-14 record that season. If the Padres were any good (they finished 5th in the West), Jones would have most likely won 30 games. Even though wins are kind of a lame stat, that would of been a cool accomplishment for Jones and the Padres.

August 27th, 1979
Gaylord Perry Padres Sports Illustrated
Prior to the 1978 season, the Padres acquired the old spitballer, Gaylord Perry. At 39 years old, he went on to win the Cy Young award and place 8th in MVP voting. The following season, at now 40 year old, he was having another hell of a season, and Sports Illustrated acknowledged this by lumping him in with various other aging baseball stars. Unfortunately, Perry’s time in San Diego didn’t end well though, as he quit the team less than 10 days after this issue came out (another SI jinx?). He threatened to retire if the team didn’t trade him back to the Rangers, which they did in the offseason. I understand that he was sick of losing and was butting heads with management, but that was a douchey move on his part.

April 25th, 1983
Steve Garvey Padres Sports Illustrated
The Padres signed former Dodgers star Steve Garvey prior to the 1983 season and with that, he carried over his consecutive games played streak. Sports Illustrated honored Garvey and his streak by giving him the cover in April, however in July Garvey broke his thumb in a home plate collision against the Braves. This lead to the him going on the DL and ended his streak. If you ask me, this sounds like another SI Padres cover jinx.

April 16th, 1984
Goose Gossage Graig Nettles Padres Sports Illustrated
In what may be my favorite Padres Sports Illustrated cover, former Yankee stars turned Padre stars Goose Gossage and Graig Nettles were featured early on the cover in the 1984 season. I’ve never read the article that accompanied the cover, but would love to check it out sometime. Anything related to the 1984 season fascinates me and I wish I was old enough to of been able to experience it.

April 5th, 1989
Benito Santiago Padres Sports Illustrated
If you were a Padres fan in the late 80s/early 90s, Benito Santiago very well could have been your favorite player behind Tony Gwynn. I’m pretty sure he had to be mine at some point due to a being a rookie of the the year, 4 all-star appearances, 4 silver slugger awards and 3 gold gloves. Maybe it had nothing to do with any of the awards though, and it was probably based solely on the fact that he threw guys out from his knees. This blew mind mind as a kid and even more now, due to the fact that I now catch from time to time.

Sports Illustrated took note of San Diego’s rising star and featured him on the cover of the special “1989 Baseball” issue that coincided with the start of the regular season. This is a great shot, but it strikes me odd that Santiago got a cover before Gwynn ever did. Also, I’m pretty sure a photo from the same shoot was used for his 1991 Topps card.

July 28th, 1997
Tony Gwynn Padres Sports Illustrated
After 16 seasons in the big leagues, Tony Gwynn was finally given a Sports Illustrated cover and boy was it awesome. Anytime you compare someone to Ted Williams, it’s going to garner attention and this cover boldly said, without question that Tony was “The Best Hitter Since Ted Williams.” I own this issue and will never get rid of it.

October 12th, 1998
Greg Vaughn Padres Sports Illustrated
I wasn’t aware of this cover until a couple years ago, which is is due to the fact that there were 4 different covers made for this issue. Each cover featured a player from the final four teams in the postseason, with Greg Vaughn getting the honor for San Diego. Vaughn was a good choice due to the fact that he hit 50 home runs and ended up placing 4th in the MVP honors. While looking over the MVP voting for 1998, it caught me off guard because there were 4 Padres in the top 20. Man, what a year 1998 was for the Padres…

May 13th, 2002
Trevor Hoffman Padres Sports Illustrated
In 2002, Sports Illustrated was somehow convinced that Trevor Hoffman was the best closer ever and gave him a cover. Hey, I loved Trevor as much as the next guy, but to say he’s the best closer ever is silly, even in 2002, before both his and Mariano Rivera‘s legacies were not entirely solidified yet. I come from the frame of mind where I take modern closers with a grain of salt and think they pale in comparison to those of the past. Still, Hoffman was great and this photo is incredible. Hoffman’s leg kick still blows my mind all these years later.

July 25th, 2007
Gwynn Padres HOF Sports Illustrated
In 2007, Sports Illustrated published a Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative issue with covers featuring both Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. I’ve never got my hands on the Gwynn issue, but I will one of these days. An article by Tom Verducci entitled “Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr on the Art of Hitting” is something that I need to read.

June 4th, 2012
ken caminiti padres sports illustrated
You can file this under mainstream media coverage of the Padres that we could all do without. As we all know, the Padres were not immune to PED drama, as the late Ken Caminiti was potentially the first MLB player to openly discuss the growing steroid problem in the game. He did so back in a 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated (read HERE) and in 2012, they revisited the issue, which featured a cover with Caminiti in his Padres uniform. I’ve always felt that it’s a haunting image that stays with you after looking at it.

April 1989
Tony Gwynn Padres Sports Illustrated for Kids
And for an honorable mention, I present Tony Gwynn’s cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids. I had a subscription to SI for Kids when I was a little boy but never had his issue, which is weird because I swear I had a subscription for the first year of the publication. It’s too bad I never owned this, as I would have been SO stoked on it. Honestly, I’d still love to read the his article in it.

A Blast From The Past: “The Heartbreak of Being a Padres Fan.”

In 2012, I wrote “The Heartbreak of Being a Padres Fan” for 90 Feet of Perfection and recently got the idea to share it here on The 5.5 Hole. I’ve generally kept my rooting interest for the Padres at a minimum on that site, but at that time I had no other outlet for a post of that nature. This was written prior to losing both Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman in 2014, so that’s not included. Also, the perception on some situations have changed a bit over the years, but the overall theme of the post still remains the same. This is why I’m leaving everything intact from the original post and not updating it; minus fixing a few grammatical issues that caught my eye.

The Swinging Friar

The San Diego Padres are not a baseball team that many people give much thought to due to the fact that they are a small market team on the West Coast lacking franchise success in terms of post-season achievements. Many fans can not name 5 players currently on the Padres roster due to their lack of “superstars” and their decision to embrace the youth movement which often comes hand in hand with teams in rebuild mode.

Being a San Diego sports fan is a tradition in my family. To this day I still bond with my Father and Grandmother over the Padres. In fact, my Grandmother is in her late 80’s and still a Padres fan. During my childhood, my parents, older half-brothers, and Grandmother all filled my head with various stories about the Padres that still resonate with me. Hearing stories about watching the Padres prior to their MLB debut in 1969 while still part of the PCL blew my mind. Hearing my Dad quote Jerry Coleman (“Oh, Doctor!” “You can hang a star on that baby!”) will always entertain me and bring me joy. Stories about players with names like Nate Colbert, Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith, Goose Gossage (My Mom’s favorite player), Rollie Fingers, Dave Winfield and Randy Jones all held my attention and captivated my imagination at a very young age. I still retain these stories in my memory bank and always will.

When I discovered Baseball around 1987 or 1988 I quickly found a baseball hero of my own and his name was Tony Gwynn. I could be wrong but I believe my Grandmother thinks Tony Gwynn is a saint and she has every right to believe so, as he is still the one shining beacon of joy, hope and pride that Padres fans never lost or felt betrayed by. Even with potential free agency looming at the end of contracts and when being pursued by large market teams such as the Yankees; he stayed with San Diego more than once and often for below market value. Unfortunately this is where the joy for many Padres fans end.

I am now 32 years old and I started to follow the Padres around the age of 8. What this means is that I have 24 years of baseball heartbreak in some shape or form. I’m not implying that this heartbreak is as bad as what Red Sox fans went through during their 86 year drought or what Cubs fans have gone through since 1908. That would be ridiculous to compare the teams as the Padres are only entering their 44th year in Major League Baseball. However, It hasn’t been easy though.

In my years as a Padres fan there have been a number of heartbreaking moments that still do not sit well with me and that is the purpose of this post; to list my most heartbreaking Padres moments. If you see the list and wonder why I did not list the 1984 or 1998 World Series defeats, the answer is easy: they were not heartbreaking for me. I was too young to remember the 1984 World Series and I never thought for a moment that the Padres could beat the Yankees in 1998. I was just happy to see them in the World Series and to see them get National recognition and respect.

So with all this said, I now give you my most heartbreaking moments a Padres fan in a somewhat chronological order:

-The Padres 1992-1993 fire sale.

I was too young to completely understand what was going on but there were 2 things which were very apparent to me. The first is that all of the Padres stars were being shipped off at an alarming rate, with the exception of Tony Gwynn. The 2nd being that to this day my Dad has never said or heard the name “Tom Werner” without following it up with an explicit name not to be said around those easily offended. I too have inherited this trait from him and would like to think if I ever met Werner I would give him a piece of my mind.

The only positive aspect of the fire sale was that we got Trevor Hoffman. Andy Ashby may have been good, but not good enough to erase the sting of the team getting gutted. (Screen capture courtesy of Baseball-Reference)

-Cardinals defeating SD in the 1996, 2005, and 2006 NLDS.

With the exception of 1998, I have not personally seen the Padres win a playoff series. I have seen the Cardinals knock out my Padres on 3 different occasions. To add insult to injury, out of all three of these playoff series, the Padres only managed to win one game (Game three of the 2006 NLDS ). This post-season domination by St. Louis is both embarrassing and frustrating.

With that said, I must proclaim that Chris Young will forever have my respect and admiration for his performance during Game 3 of the 2006 NLDS. (Screen capture courtesy of MLB)

-October 1st, 2007: Game 163 against the Rockies.

An extra inning battle which was settled in the 13th inning after Trevor Hoffman blew a save and was rocked to the tune of 3 runs for a final score of 9-8. I really thought they had this nailed shut when Scott Hairston crushed a home run in the top of the 13th inning off of Jorge Julio. Unfortunately the Baseball gods thought otherwise.

I’ll always be somewhat bitter towards Umpire Tim McClelland and will forever hold the stance that Matt Holliday did not touch the plate. It’s safe to say that it still hurts when I think about this night.

-Losing Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy.

  • 2008 opening day payroll: over $73 million.
  • 2009 opening day payroll: under $43 million.
  • 2010 opening day payroll: under $38 million.

After reading the payrolls above, you may be asking yourself how did the Padres payroll drop so dramatically in such a short period of time? Well, the majority of the blame is to be pointed at soon to be former owner of the Padres, John Moores. His nasty divorce screwed the Padres in terms of payroll and led to him beginning the selling process of the team in early 2009. Add this to an outdated television deal and the results were a financial nightmare for San Diego with the main casualties being Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez, as the Padres were not able to retain their stars through this transition period. Thankfully, the completed purchase of the Padres and new TV deal should be finished in the next couple weeks.

It still stings to see the both of them in other uniforms, especially Peavy as he is without a doubt my favorite Pitcher in Baseball.

Note to owners: Don’t be idiots in regards to your marital affairs, it can and will screw your team in some way shape or form as both the Padres & Dodgers can attest.

-Trevor Hoffman leaving San Diego.

Trevor Hoffman was the face of the Padres after Tony Gwynn retired and he should have played out the rest of his career in San Diego. This did not happen. Take the above mentioned payroll issues into consideration along with the fact that now former Padres CEO Sandy Alderson is a egomaniac with an attitude problem who retracted a contract offer to Hoffman. What you have left is Trevor playing his last 2 seasons with the Brewers.

Much like Tom Werner, I wish nothing but failure for Sandy Alderson in regards to the rest of his career in Baseball.

-The 2010 late season collapse.

This still stings. 2010 could have been, in many ways, the Padres unexpected year of greatness. Overall it was a very good year but a monumental 10 game losing streak late in the season, smack in the middle of a division race will screw any team. Add that to a loss to the Giants on the final day of the season and their chances of the post-season were destroyed.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the loss on the final day of the season fell on my birthday? It was a birthday that I will never forget, although it is one that I would love to, as I was almost brought to tears by the team’s collapse.

Padres Pics #3.

SNYDER.
Duke Snider San Diego Padres
Duke Snider was an announcer for the Padres from their inaugural season of 1969 until 1971. This photo captures the former Dodgers great in a Padres uniform during the team’s first spring training in Yuma, Arizona. As a huge fan of baseball history, I like this photo a lot…even though I’m aware of how weird and wrong it is. With that said, I’d LOVE to own that jacket.

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GARVEY.
Steve Garvey 1984 All-Star Game

Tony Gwynn, Goose Gossage and Steve Garvey all represented the Padres in the 1984 All-Star Game. Gwynn and Garvey were both starters and had a hit apiece, while Gossage closed the game with a save. This photo from the second inning captures Garvey successfully picking off Chet Lemon of the Tigers.

You can watch the game HERE. Gwynn leads off for the National League and his first at-bat starts at around 17:05, his second at-bat is at 49:55 and unfortunately, I believe his third at-bat (where gets a hit) is cut off. Garvey putting the tag on Lemon is at 37:00 and Goose enters the game at 1:52:23.
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JACK MURPHY STADIUM.
Jack Murphy Stadium 1984 World Series
If I get down on the Padres and their lack of success, I can always look at this photo of Jack Murphy Stadium and be reminded that the team has been to the Fall Classic before. While I obviously miss the team being in the postseason, I feel like this photo makes me miss Jack Murphy just as much. Yeah it kinda turned into a dump, but I loved baseball there.

Remembering Tony Gwynn.

Following Tony Gwynn’s death last year, I posted this on 90 Feet of Perfection. I’ve since launched this blog with a name in honor of him, so it’s only fitting that I share it again, one year after his death. Needless to say, it still hurts and I’m still in shock that my childhood hero is gone.
tony-gwynn-header

Southern Oregon was a long way from San Diego, but my family always maintained our roots; particularly when it came to sports. It was my Dad who officially introduced me to baseball and I still remember the conversation quite well. I must have been in second grade at the time and he explained a little about the game and told me about the San Diego Padres. To be honest, I didn’t think too much of the conversation, but I knew that my parents, grandmother and older brothers all liked baseball, so I wasn’t turned off by the idea. Around the same time, I remember kids starting to play little league and being slightly jealous. Not that they were actually playing, but more so that I could not take part in the conversations about their games. Related to this, a lot of kids I knew went to the local Medford A’s games and in turn were fans of the Oakland A’s. I almost feel like it was the “cool” thing to do. The same went for collecting and trading baseball cards. After a short period of time, I wanted in on all of these things as well and before that year was over, I was consumed by it all.

I come from a family of long-time San Diego Padres fans and that for some members of my family, this goes back to the days of the old Pacific Coast League Padres. Once I personally became interested in the team, this meant getting my hands on every single Padres baseball card possible. I remember being absolutely fascinated with the brown and orange that Padres players donned on my 1987 & 1988 Topps cards. However, what captivated me the most was the guy who wore #19 for the Padres, Tony Gwynn.

gwynn-brown

I have so many fond childhood memories that involve Tony Gwynn on some level or another: I remember the Gwynn-related magazine and newspaper clippings on my bedroom walls. I remember countless conversations with family about him. I remember my Grandma meeting him on different occasions and her telling him about me and even attempting to organize a phone call between us, which, unfortunately, never successfully happened. I remember saving paper route money to buy an autographed photo of him. I remember my Mom getting me his 1983 Fleer rookie card for Christmas one year and just staring at it in amazement. I remember seeing his 2000th career hit in person and being so happy that tears came to my eyes. I remember attempting to negotiate a trade for a Gwynn Donruss card that my brother got in a pack while playing left field during a little league game (he was behind a fence watching and had just opened a pack). I remember writing #19 on bills of my caps. I honestly can go on and on.

In a way, I think it’s safe to say that Tony Gwynn was and is a big part of who I am. I’ve always thought this was odd, since, in many ways, I’ve always disliked the idea of idolizing people. I guess Tony Gwynn is one of the few exceptions I’ve made in regards to this.

tony-gywnn-1994-all-star-game

Like many people, I knew he was sick. I knew the cancer had returned and that he was being treated again. However, this time was different as there was an uneasiness about it all. All you had to do was read between the lines to know that something was very wrong. He was not able to attend the 1984 San Diego Padres celebration back in May and speculation began that this was quite serious. Still, when I got the news the morning Tony passed away, I was in complete shock. At first, I didn’t think it was possible and I felt numb. This quickly changed and I have no problem admitting that I shed tears that day and on different occasions since. This is something I experienced when Jerry Coleman passed away in January, but with Tony, it went much deeper. The Padres, the city of San Diego, the world of baseball and many people I care about all lost someone that meant a lot to them. It shook me to my core.

I never met the guy, but he was my hero due to what he accomplished on the field and the person he was off the field. How I felt about the guy never changed. Even during the time in my life when interest in baseball often took a backseat to things like music and skateboarding, I always managed to check box scores and read articles to stay updated on how he was playing. There’s a reason I kept everything from my childhood Tony Gwynn collection and have continued to add to it in adulthood. Simple enough, the guy was special and had an impact on me.

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs

My grandmother passed away this last November and my whole life, up until she got sick, I would call her and talk about baseball. Specifically the Padres, and for many years this meant Tony Gwynn. She would have been heartbroken if she knew that Tony had passed at such an early age. She absolutely adored the man. I spent a lot of my childhood talking to my own late mother about this him as well. She also thought he was great, although her favorite all-time Padre was Goose Gossage. Since Tony passed away, I’ve had multiple conversations with my Dad about him. What I’m getting at is that Tony Gwynn was special and impacted so many people in a positive way and in my case, he impacted 3 generations of my family. I have a hard time believing that this is unique to just my family.

Sportswriter Barry Bloom recently said that “Tony Gwynn may be the single most important sports figure in history to a single community.” To some, this may be a bold statement, but not me, I believe in it wholeheartedly. Like many people, I’m still having a hard time grasping the fact that this person, who was a big part of my childhood and represents so much about the game I love, has passed away.

With that said, it brings me joy knowing that there was a Tony Gwynn in this world and while growing up, I had such a great guy to look up to.

Mr. Padre may be gone, but I think it’s safe to say that he will never be forgotten.

tony-gwynn-brown-yellow