Tuesday, September 7, 2010
By David Newhan
It was confirmed Monday night, God does answer prayers. In the midst of a lively Sunday sermon by our pastor Roger Friend, a request for a reprieve in the Padres 10 game losing streak was made. Although certain members of the congregation were rebuking his appeal for a Pad Squad victory, it appears as though his prayers were indeed answered. I suppose Tommy Lasorda is in dismay. He always talks about the great Dodger in the sky donning Dodger Blue! Perhaps, that great Dodger in the sky was detained in a courtroom. Maybe He had too much on the docket to actually be concerned with the playing of a game as the Dodger owners battle in a high priced divorce. Anyhow, the Fighting Friars, Pastor Friend's favorite team and the surprise team of the year, went back to work on Labor Day after what was tantamount to a week and a half off, unable to shake their longest losing streak of the season. Their league best record is now third best and they now find themselves in a dogfight to fend off those nasty Giants and ever-surging Rockies. Oh, the drama of the playoff push. A season's worth of great play by the Padres was almost thrown away by a humbling two week stretch! Now, every game matters, and for the fan, this just adds to the excitement as September baseball unfolds. It is likely to come down to the end of the Padres with several key series remaining to be played with both Colorado and San Francisco and a season finale by the bay.. By the way, how can you not love a pastor with the last name of Friend!
Obviously, Adrian Gonzalez is the cog that gives the Padres credibility and a middle of the lineup power threat. His .303 average and 27 home runs in spacious Petco Park are impressive and deserving of notice. Also, on the offensive side, I love the two additions that general manager Jed Hoyer and his staff made in acquiring Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick. Both are gamers and professionals who will help down the playoff stretch. The young Mat Latos has been infallible. He has shrugged off any pennant race pressure while giving his team a string of quality starts and leading the league in earned-run average while throwing more innings than at any time in his career. Latos has the look of someone who will vie for the Cy Young award annually. Surely, Heath Bell would be welcomed to close for just about any team and proved his worth again in the ninth inning of Monday's streak breaking victory over the Dodgers.. Bell, 5-0 with 37 saves and a 1.78 e.r.a., should get some Cy Young consideration himself. All that being said, the unsung hero of this team has been the play of versatile Jerry Hairston Jr.. It was not totally a surprise that the 10 game slide coincided with his stint on the disabled list. Although his average is modest, he has provided consistent, professional at bats and is always a tough out. Hairston Jr., will play "team ball" and do the little things throughout the game that result in wins. Also, he does it every day. Whereas some guys show up to play three or four times a week, Jerry is there with the same drive and fire every night. He might not jump off the page at you but when you see him day in and day out you understand his worth to a team. By the way, isn’t baseball played just about every day for six long months? Hairston has delivered double-digit home runs, stolen some bases, and been able to play all over the field. He has filled in for extended time at shortstop and been totally serviceable. He can score from first on a double and score from second on most singles. He provides life and energy as well as experience. Jerry has probably played twice as much as the Padres originally intended, but that is because he is this teams unsung hero and behind the scenes MVP. I am certain, Padre fans and management will be happy to see him return as quickly as possible from this DL stint!
More Padres…….OOPS, Errr,…….I mean Brewers
Trevor Hoffman has endured a season like no other in his storied career. Unquestionably, this has been his toughest from a numbers standpoint: A 2-7 won lost record, 6.23 ERA and 8 saves. He was ultimately forced to relinquish closer role. It has been a battle and grind for him to say the least. They always say you learn the most about a person on how they react during their toughest times. If that is true, then Trevor has shined! There has been no bickering or complaining. He has not quit on his team. He has not punched out or retired and taken it to the house early as he easily could have. In the face of adversity, Trevor has shined and shown the world the person and consummate professional he is. Trevor has led bullpen conditioning boot camps. He has mentored the young John Axford in what it takes to be a closer in the big leagues. Moreover, I am certain his San Diego successor Heath Bell is quick to tell everyone that Trevor’s influence when Trevor was still with the Padres has helped him to be the dominant closer he is today. Trevor could have easily walked away early when demoted from his closer position in Milwaukee. Instead, he has shown the baseball world his dedication and innate qualities that made him the all-time saves leader, a clubhouse leader and a shoe in for Cooperstown. Hopefully, he can get the opportunity to reach that 600 save milestone during this last month of the season. It would be a nice capstone on a Hall of Fame career for a Hall of Fame person. Hopefully, I will be able to attend the induction. I'd love to hear ACDC's Hells Bells blaring over the loudspeakers when Trevor Time comes to Cooperstown. .