There exists in the world only five games that I consider to be so heartbreaking that I both can't forget them and want only to forget them. They are, in no particular order:
1) Arizona vs Illinois, Elite Eight, 2006 - Arizona blows a double digit lead with 4 mins to play.
2) Chargers vs Patriots, Divisional Round, 2007 - Another blown lead late, erasing a 14-2 season.
3) Padres vs Yankees, Games 1-4, 1998 World Series - No one wants to be swept
4) Padres vs Brewers, Game 161, 2007 - Trevor blows the save, Tony Gwynn Jr. hits a triple.
and number 5....
5) Padres vs Rockies, Game 163, 2007...
Game 163 was perhaps the most nervous I had ever been watching any sporting event, live or on television. The entire day, all I could think about was the game. As confident as I was on the outside ("Peavy's on the mound, its in the bag!") I was a ball of nerves inside. I didn't relax at any point during the game, counting down the amount of outs that were left. Peavy didn't have his ace stuff and the Padres fell behind early. I woke the neighbors when Adrian hit his grand slam to make it a new game, screamed at the t.v. while watching Brady Clark "play" center field, and was ready to pop the bubbly thanks to Scott Hairston's 13th inning home run. For a game with so many ups and downs, it seemed that the Padres had finally stuck the dagger in the heart of the Rockies. Or so I thought...
When you have watched Trevor Hoffman for as long as I have, you know when you're in for a long night. You can tell from the beginning of an inning. A hard hit double that you try to convince yourself doesn't matter because you lead by 2. But you know, he doesn't have it tonight, and you hope they hit it at someone. And then there was the now infamous slide. Did Matt Holliday touch home? Well, you know my answer to that.
So here we are, April 15th, 2008, and for the first time since that night in Denver, the Padres play the Rockies. Does it have the feel of a Padres/Dodgers series? Not quite, but there are enough Padres fans out there who have a very bitter taste in their mouth from Game 163 and the controversial way it ended. So perhaps we should look at Game 163 for the positive it has created...a new rivalry in the NL West. It may be too early to say this is a big series, but this is a big series.
- ESPN The Magazine has a great article on Greg Maddux in which this story was recounted (paraphrased): As a member of the Dodgers, Brad Penny believed that Maddux knew Penny's pitches better then he did. So one night Penny had Maddux call the entire game for him. Penny would glance into the dugout between pitches, get the sign, and throw. And he did throw, 7 innings, shutout.
- Speaking of ESPN The Magazine, Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) wrote in his column this month that Barry Bonds was the "best hitter since Ted Williams." Now while the article had to do with the deafening silence that has met the news that Bonds is unemployed currently, I would like to draw a bit of an issue with the term "best hitter since Ted Williams." .338 Lifetime BA, 8 Batting Titles, over 3,000 hits and 19 consecutive seasons over .300 beg to differ with that title being given to Barry Bonds. Need further proof? SI already crowned such a person in this cover:
This is the Best Hitter Since Ted Williams. Consistent, a student of the game, and, to use Ryne Sandburg's term, he did it "the right way."
- Rockies fans are not afraid of Trevor Hoffman and are convinced Holliday was safe as evident here: http://www.purplerow.com/
- The Padres offense has managed only 2 runs in their last two games. More will be needed to beat a very potent Colorado lineup.
- Pitching Matchup for the Series: Jimenez vs Wolf; Redman vs Germano; Francis vs Peavy
- Bud Black has this to say about the recent struggles of Trevor Hoffman (who, it is worth noting, still has 4 saves already in this young season):
"Like I've said, it looks like his overall stuff is there," Black said. "For whatever reason the location is off 3-4-5-6 inches. ... He's hitting the glove. He just must be off a little."
- Finally, the pick. I'll take Peavy over Francis on Thursday, Wolf has looked good so far so let's take him on Tuesday and Germano has yet to give up a run. Wednesday he gets his first win of the season. Padres sweep and drink from the glass of revenge!