Hey all five San Diego Padre fans still on fannation with me, does the date Friday, September 28, 2007 have any meaning to you? It sure does to me. Clearly that night, was the last time up to this very moment I felt just amazing as a San Diego Padre fan, and felt like all was right in the world of baseball, and I'd be watching my team for the third straight year in the play-offs as a team no one could take lightly in the National League race to the World Series. That's what came to mind for me this morning at 5 a.m. here in New Jersey watching the replay, the different angles, the ESPN ultra-coverage (the most San Diego has recieved on SportsCenter in the last three years) of Chris Young taking a Albert Pujols linedrive right between the eyes, and Josh Bard's ankle making angles it shouldn't a few batters later after a Pujols slide.
And I began to replay the highpoints of this nightmare in my head backwards - Young and Bard now out, Peavy on the DL, Khalil Greene, the 2008 edition, swinging at every pitch thrown every at-bat, the 22-inning mental torture with Colorado, Trevor Hoffman having troubles, San Diego signing Jim Edmonds in the offseason but unable to resign Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley, the "is Greene staying or going" offseason saga, the Bradley blow-up/ACL tear at first base, the Matt Holliday conspiracy at the plate in the play-in game, Tony Gwynn Jr's "big hit"...
Then I stopped trying to fill in the rest of the nightmares we have seen as Padres fans since last September. And I went back to the day before Gwynn Jr's big hit started this all which was Sept. 28 - the franchise's last important and big victory on the date mentioned above - 9/28/07. I was lucky enough to see this one on ESPN here on the East Coast played at Miller Park at a reasonable time EST. It was a 6-3 victory for San Diego that put them at 89-71, just a win away from clinching a play-off berth and still alive for the NL West title at that point. The win did clinch at-worst a clinch for a play-in game (which as we now remember...). It also knocked the Brewers out of the play-offs. AND it was a wonderful Padre game, with everything just about, going right. Greg Maddux got the win going five innings with 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, and a ton of his usual ground balls to a solid infield.
At the plate, Khalil Greene was solid a solid 2-for-3, smacking a 2-run homerun in the eighth off of former Padre Scott Linebrink to extend a 4-3 lead into a 6-3 lead that held thanks to a solid bullpen behind Cla Meredith, Heath Bell, and Hoffman (Thatcher was the lone hint of thins to come perhaps with an ineffctive stint in the fifth). Adrian Gonzalez was 2-for-2. The game was done in under 3 hours as I remember. I hit sack feeling good about my Padres with the biggest concern being how I would be able to watch every playoff game of the NLDS.
And then I woke up on September 29 and my entire Padre fan world began its downward spiral right into last night's grissly scenes. Heading into a series with the Reds tonight (Thursday 5/22) the Padres are the slowest team in baseball, the weakest hitting, the least winning - an MLB worst 17-31. And worst of all by mid-July I may not see too many of my favorite Padres even in this franchise's uniforms.
So there it is folks, the current state of San Diego and the last time I felt just wonderful as a Padre fan - September 28, 2007. Please someone wake me up and tell me it's Saturday morning, September 29, 2007 and my team is hours away from another NL West title and the play-offs?