Okay, I may be wrong here, and I’ll get to the point in a second, but far as I can tell, here’s what the “All-Time San Diego Padres” team would look like going by WAR, minimum five years with appearances on the team:
Starting Pitchers: Jake Peavy, Andy Ashby, Andy Benes, Randy Jones, Eric Show
Relievers: Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell, Mark Davis, Scott Linebrink, Craig Lefferts, Luke Gregerson
Catchers: Terry Kennedy, Benito Santiago
First Basemen: Adrian Gonzalez, Nate Colbert, Ryan Klesko (also OF)
Second Basemen: Tim Flannery
Third Basemen: Chase Headley, Phil Nevin
Shortstops: Garry Templeton, Khalil Greene
Outfielders: Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Gene Richards, Brian Giles
Tell me, oh reader, does that strike the fear of god into you? The answer: No, not really. I mean, yeah, it’s got two Hall of Famers and another likely one (Hoffman), but it doesn’t look like an “All-Time Team”, but rather a “Probably going to win a Wild Card if there aren’t too many injuries” type of team.
And that’s what leads me to this: The Padres may well be the most non-descript team in Baseball’s history. They aren’t good, they aren’t bad, they just usually seem to be… there, as if they exist only to make sure the schedule is full and that the divisions are even. Sometimes it seems as if they don’t even exist at all outside of box scores and the bottom-ticker of ESPN.
To put it another way: I once took a online quiz where I had to name all 30 MLB teams. The Padres were the last ones I remembered to put in.
And that’s why it is a bit surprising to see the Padres make so many deals this off-season- just yesterday they acquired Justin Upton and Will Middlebrooks, not long after they had acquired Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, leading me to say this:
But why is it in the first place that the Padres seem to far down in the Baseball Zeitgeist?
I have some ideas:
1) Lack of Postseason Success
The Padres have been to two World Series- 1984 and 1998. Both times, they got to play Washington Generals to some of the greatest teams in history, going down to the 1984 Tigers in five games and being swept by the 1998 Yankees. And the road to those World Series aren’t particularly notable outside of San Diego. The 1984 NLCS, for example, is more known for a Leon Durham E3 that set-up a big Padres inning that doomed the Cubs.
2) They traded away Ozzie Smith and Roberto Alomar
Fun fact: If I hadn’t had the “minimum five years” thing for the All-Padres team, the Shortstop would have been a young Ozzie Smith and his double-play partner would be a young Roberto Alomar. Problem for the Padres: they traded both of them away. And it’s not like they were nobodies treading around in the minors when the Padres traded them away- they were both traded coming off of All-Star seasons. One would think the Padres’ history wouldn’t be so nondescript if they had had them for most of their careers.
3) No No-Hitters
The Padres are the only team in baseball without a no-hitter. That means that they lack one of the signature moments that every other MLB team has.
4) They are crowded out
They share the same division as the Giants and Dodgers, who suck up almost all of the attention given to NL West. Not having the history of other “stuck in the division of giants” teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati means that they look even more non-descript by comparison.
This is all a shame, really. They have a beautiful stadium and lovely weather, and San Diego has a good baseball culture (amateur, etc.) even if their team doesn’t get much attention outside of the area. Perhaps the Padres’ moves this off-season will finally get the franchise that big moment that we can remember it by.