Photo courtesy of Friars on Base
Among San Diego natives, the Padres have become the butt of a joke. When the Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2017, the Padres became the only major league sports team in San Diego. People find this pretty unfortunate, seeing as they are considered one of the worst baseball teams in the country. May marked the first time since 2013 that the Padres won more games than they lost in a month during the first half of the season. In previous years Padres fans had very little hope of their team reaching the World Series. However, this season feels different.
Normally, when Padres gain a new player, that player is a rookie. Rookies, who have never played on a Major League Baseball team before, are cheaper to employ than more established players. If a rookie shows talent by the end of the season, the Padres will sell them to another team in favor of another rookie. Rookies are cheaper than more established players, so this method allows the owners of the Padres to make a greater profit. However, this also means that the Padres are usually a team almost completely made up of players who have never played in the major leagues before. The team normally spends the first half of the season adjusting to baseball at a higher level and only starts to pick up wins in the second half of the season. Because of the way that baseball is structured, a team must do well during both halves if they want a shot at playing in the postseason. For years, the Padres have missed the mark for playoff eligibility. In fact, the 1998 postseason marks the only year that the Padres played in the World Series.
At the beginning of the year, the Padres did something surprising: they traded for already established players. This is something that they have not done in ages, and it has boosted their roster considerably. Even with some talented players injured, they still have managed to pick up wins more often. Spectators no longer enter Petco Park, the Padres’ home stadium, expecting a loss as before. While the Padres could usually pull out wins against other low ranked teams, when they played better teams they would often lose. However, the Padres have already been able to beat highly-esteemed teams like the Cardinals this season. While there is no way to know what is in store for the Padres later in this season, so far 2018 has been their most promising year in a long time.
While the improvements made this season may not be enough to secure them a spot in the playoffs, it seems that the Padres are on their way to stronger seasons in the future. If they keep this up, baseball fans and commentators might finally take them seriously. They have the support of San Diego sports fans, who are desperate to cheer on any team. If the team continues to put resources and effort into building a strong roster, the future seems very bright for the Padres. Who knows? They might even make it to the playoffs. Or, and this was purely fantastical thinking a year ago, win a World Series sometime in the future.