See you next season

For 22 teams, today was it. The end. And those fans go back to the drawing board hoping for a better 2011.

It is an important day of the baseball calendar. If opening day is the time where optimism is abound, the last day is where some sobering reality kicks in.

When you come out today, that’s it. The baseball card’s stats for the year are done.
Some players have played their last games with a team and will appear elsewhere next year.

Some veterans played their last game today and didn’t even know it.

Some September call up will not get another shot.

Some managers and coaches know that they’ll probably be looking for a new gig.

I’ll miss the box scores and scoreboard watching… and man I’ll miss seeing MY team play.

But enough reflection. All anyone remembers is the post season… and that is around the corner.
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No person I’d rather watch a clinching with than Poppy

My dad was in town this weekend and we watched a lot of baseball. That wasn’t the original plan… the plan was we’d watch his Giants clinch on Friday night and spend the rest of the weekend in L.A. County with my kids.

As it turned out Cain got bombed and Barry Zito blew his chance to redeem his contract in the eyes of Giants fans.

So we were glued to the set today… and watching a game with my dad is an experience.

Sometimes he doesn’t move. You wonder if he is asleep. Then when Guillen grounds out you just hear a “JE-sus… swinging on the first pitch.” And then you know my dad hasn’t missed a pitch.

Or then comes his predictions.
When Miguel Tejada came up in a key spot today, he grumbled “This is it… he’s about to hit the home run that will haunt us forever.” Then with added emphasis pointed at the screen… as if I were about to miss his seer like abilities.

Tejada grounded out.

Later when Aubrey Huff came up in a critical situation, he said “Watch. He’s about to hit the home run that will forever cement his legend.”

He also grounded out.

Back when Bonds was with the Giants, every time a pitcher threw to him, my dad would say “Gone.”

And when the odds caught up to him and Bonds DID hit a homer, my dad would turn to me and say “I called it.”

I would reply “You call EVERY pitch.”

My dad would have it off and say “admit it… I called it.”

And I couldn’t deny it. I am thrilled for my dad this year. He follows the Giants closer than anyone who isn’t currently employed by KNBR.

I remember in 2008 I was driving home and listening to a Giants/Dodgers game late in the season. The Giants were 100% out of it and it was a week night. Bengie Molina homered for the Giants and I called my dad.

He picked up the phone. He didn’t even say “Hello?” He just said “How about Bengie Molina?”

Dedication to a team… my dad has it.

So I’m glad we could see the Giants win the West.

But today my dad asked me “if I can get World Series tickets, will you fly up?”

He’s already past Atlanta, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

Let’s go Giants. My dad has paid enough dues watching this team to finally see another World Series title.

And I have a feeling he has many more predictions to make this post season.

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I can’t call the Padres chokers

I know it would be easy to call the Padres choke artists… heck you might even have the numbers to back it up.

On August 25th, the Padres looked like a team of destiny. They improved their record to 76-49. They were up by 8 games in the loss column over San Francisco with 37 games to play.

The Padres had a better record than anyone else in the National League by 5 games in the loss column and were on a run where they won 12 of 15 games.

And then it happened.
The 10 game losing streak.
Squandering a 6 ½ game lead in 16 days.

Finishing the season 14-23.

And now out of the playoff picture. The playoffs start this week and the Padres are playing golf.

On the surface it looks like a huge face plant.

But let’s call Doc Brown and go back in time.
Going into this season, the Padres (with the NL’s second lowest payroll) look like they would be sitting with the Nationals, Pirates and Mets as the few National League teams with no hope.

The only questions going into 2010 were “Where is Adrian Gonzalez going to be traded?” and “Should the Padres deal Heath Bell as well?”

What if I told you a Padres team that EVERYONE seemed to have picked for 90 losses would actually be a 90 WIN team?

That they would be in contention for the entire season with arguably the deepest bullpen in baseball and make it all the way to the last day of the season before being eliminated?

That they would play 3 “lose and your season is over” games on the road and win the first 2?

You’d think I was crazy and demand to know the physics of time travel.

But I think the season should be judged based upon expectations and outcomes. A team whose payroll is less than what the Red Sox paid for Tim Wakefield, J. D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett this year, is not expected to win more games than the Red Sox.

But they did.

A team with a no name rotation and line up (save for Gonzalez) is expected to contend.

But they did.

They didn’t choke. They destroyed all expectations. If they started off horribly and then caught fire and made it to 90 wins, they’d be considered a triumph.

This isn’t going to look pretty for San Diego’s underrated tortured history. But this wasn’t a choke.

If the METS did this, it would be a choke. But then again the Mets didn’t even contend despite paying $95 million more for their players.

But that is another post.

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