I met HJ Preller several years ago at a Christmas party at Fall Brewery. I had organized a little get together for the writers of Padres Public as my family was in town for the holidays. I thought it would be great to see the PP team over a few beers. Woe Doctor came down from North County and brought HJ along with him. I had long been a fan of the Gwynntelligence team so I was happy to meet the infamous Padres Jagoff in person. The meet up set the stage for our next get together in Monterrey Mexico for the Padres-Dodgers series down South. We communicated through texts and he had scored some VIP tickets he was willing to share with my wife and I. We agreed to do a podcast from the hotel we were all staying. It was a great experience and several more beers were consumed together. I had been writing a little bit for The Kept Faith as Padres Public was defunct, but HJ asked if I would consider someday writing for this site. In ‘21 I contacted him to say I was in and I started writing semi-regularly here. It’s been a fun outlet for in-season semi-weekly musings.
The thing about writing about the Padres is it is easy to do when they are playing poorly. The material is right there. Snark flows freely and being miserable about a terrible team is easier to swallow when you have comedic relief. But I felt I needed the challenge of writing an entertaining post when the team is good. And I wanted to chronicle the season’s success after having obliterating the lowly Padres for years. I have to admit, it’s not as easy to be amusing when the team is rolling toward a playoff spot. I did my best last season as the Pads rose to seventeen games over .500 in early August. And then the roof caved in. My beloved Padres pissed away what should have been a magical season. But there were some good lols. Like Jayce Tingler.
This season had the promise of contending for a title a bit more than last in my eyes. The pitching staff was healthy, robust and fairly deep. Then Fernando Tatis Jr. decided to yell “hold mah beer” before jumping on the seat of a motorcycle. A fractured wrist fractured a clubhouse. Sure, Ha-Seong Kim could fill in defensively for Nando, but no one expected him to fill the huge hole in the lineup. That job fell squarely on the shoulders of MVP candidate Manny Machado. He carried the team’s offense and played terrific defense. The Padres probably lose 8 games in the standings if not for Manny.
Then there is the pitching. Yu Darvish was named NL Pitcher of the Month for September. Blake Snell strikes everybody out and actually led the Padres with 1.2 fWAR for September (0.9 for Darvish). Joe Musgrove is a very strong number 3. The lessons from ‘20 and ‘21 have been learned and the knowledge gained was applied to this staff. The starters pulled this team into the playoffs. It’s the starters this team will need to carry them through.
And then there’s Bob. Manager Bob Melvin has been the steady hand this team desperately needed. He is a player’s coach and uses his entire roster for long range success. Even though he is a big supporter of his guys, he kicked them in the butt when they sorely needed it. The Padres won three straight after his talking to, and then clinched the number five seed in the NL. He gets to manage a playoff team now. It will be interesting to see how he switches focus of long term goal setting to a short term win at all costs mentality. He’s got the team to do it. Let’s hope he has the touch.
I’ve enjoyed this season probably more than any previous year in my long Padres fandom. It might feel like there were lots of ups and downs for this team, but they are on the cusp of a 90 win season and are heading to New York for a three game playoff series. I’ll try to keep this up during the playoffs, and would love to be writing deep into October. As to next season, who knows? I hope to catch up with HJ and other Padres fans in Mexico City next season. Maybe even fire up the mics and do another podcast. And there will be beer.