If there’s one thing that I don’t think I’ve gotten over from last season, it’s the feeling of dread that I had before every single series against the Padres.
Okay, maybe I was able to get over it. But I didn’t forget it.
Before the September sweep in Petco, every Giants/Padres game unfolded the same way. Some guy who wouldn’t make the Yankees’ 40-man roster would get on via catcher’s interference, he’d advance on a broken-bat grounder, and then he’d score on a balk. This exact sequence happened 48 times last season. Look it up. It was brutal. Also, the Giants would cooperate by not scoring against Clayton Richard, Richard Clayton, Tim Stauffer, Mat Latos, Matt E. Latos, Stauff Timmer, Jon Garland, or any other starting pitcher the Padres could find at a YMCA and throw on the mound. The Padres/Giants games were, inning-for-inning, the least enjoyable games of the past five years, at least.
True story: I was far more distraught over the Friday night loss to the Padres in the final series of the season than I was over the Game Two loss in the NLCS or the Game Three loss in the World Series. Both meant roughly the same thing -- if the Giants lost about three more games after that, the season was over. There was something about the Padres last year, that here-we-go-again-but-with-Scott-Hairston-dancing-on-the-car-instead-of-Tawny-Kitaen feeling that you just can’t bottle. And when Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run homer to give the Padres a four-run lead, my heart turned into a liquid and escaped from the pores between my toes. I think that’s what that was, at least.
An aside: remember how there were KNBR callers and comments here that were livid about Matt Cain’s performance? Waited all this time for games that meant something, and he couldn’t perform in the clutch. What a shame.
But it’s a new season. The Padres had to feel the same way in 2008, when one of the worst offenses to ever offend was able to take 13 out of 18 from the Padres. That led to a mostly even 2009, which led to the painful season series last year. These things don’t carry over. There is no such thing as one team owning another from season to season. You are trying to find a pattern because your puny ape brain is wired that way.
Of course, I might know that’s logical, but I can’t believe that just yet. The second I see those blue-and-silver, or brown-and-yellow, or camouflage-and-more-camouflage jerseys, I’m sure I’ll start twitching. It’d be a lot less stressful if the Giants hadn’t opened the season with three losses against another hated rival.
Hitter to watch
With Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett, the Padres dramatically improved their infield, both on offense and defense. While Cameron Maybin might not be a superstar yet, at least he represents someone with more potential than Tony Gwynn, Jr. or Scott Hairston. I liked just about every move the Padres made in the offseason. But at the risk of repeating myself, all I can do when I look at the Padres’ roster this year is dance a little jig at the absence of Adrian Gonzalez.
Seriously, I’d rather give the Padres 30 outs a game rather than watch Gonzalez hit against the Giants again. I don’t care that they improved at multiple positions. I don’t care that they have more depth. I spent most of my offseason hugging a picture of Not Adrian Gonzalez as I rolled around on my four-post bed in my pajamas. Oh, Not Adrian Gonzalez! It is surely meant to be!
If I have to pick a hitter, though, I’ll go with Maybin. He’s still young enough to join that McCutchen/Rasmus/Young group of young, covetable center fielders.
Pitcher to watch
I go to the bathroom when the Giants are hitting against the Padres. Send some e-mails, do some laundry. Cook a little dinner. You watch those pitchers. I’m done with it. What we need is some old-timey guy to read the game to us from a ticker. We can pay him extra not to describe what Aaron Harang looks like.
Some guy with a slider will strike out one of the Giants in the late innings. Possibly on a slider.