Friday, February 1, 2013

February 1- San Diego Padres

For any baseball fan born before let’s saaaaaayyyy… 1988, clearly 1994 was by far the worst year we can recall. I put the marker at 1988 because who really cares about anything intently before the age of six? I was 11-years-old at the time, and while I wasn’t exactly the most savvy when it came to multi-million dollar negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreements, I was at least old enough to understand that was happening to my favorite sport really sucked balls (11-year-old Benjamin talking). August 12 not only served as a dark day in my youth in regard to my favorite sport, it also served as a three weeks to go marker for when I had to go back to school. And even though I didn’t know it at the time, exactly one month later my mother would relinquish custody of my brothers and me and give my father full custody rights. Needless to say, it was a really shitty time in my youth (29-year-old Benjamin talking). Now, as an adult, the 1994 season doesn’t upset me as much as it leaves me, and other baseball fans, in a state of confusion and intense discussion. So many unanswered questions: Could the Montreal Expos have really won the World Series? Was Matt Williams going to break the single-season home run record? Would Michael Jordan really make it up to the Majors? But I think the most important and most forgotten question is: Could Tony Gwynn have been the first person to hit .400 on the season since Ted Williams in 1941?

Having been born and raised in the Bay Area my older brothers and I were taught to hate the Southern California teams at a very young age. This of course included the San Diego Padres. I never really bought too much into that as the late 1980s/early 1990s really confused my when I saw highlights of the Padres and San Francisco Giants and thought they were the same team. Go back and look at each team’s road uniforms and you’ll totally understand my previous sentence. But, there was always that one guy who played for the Padres that I just couldn’t have ill will toward; and no, it’s not Benito Santiago.

’94 - .394: (This is the first appearance of stats on my hat posts) Tony Gwynn played 20 brilliant seasons, all of which came as a loyal member of the Padres from 1982-2001. His career stats are .338/135/1138; however, the 3141 career hits (and of course batting average) were a dead lock for the Hall of Fame, but it was the 1994 season that gives me the most issue. Gwynn had missed on 6 of the 116 games that had been played, which put him 65 at-bats behind the season leader Dante Bichette. However, even with those missed games Gwynn still led the League in hits with 165. What’s even more impressive is that Gwynn was on the upswing with his .394 average. In what turned out to be the final six games of the season Gwynn went 12-27 and hit safely in all six. In two of those games Gwynn went 3-5. With only 42 games left in the season, who knows what could have happened? Even more of a cliffhanger, would that have affected the MVP voting that year? Gwynn finished in seventh place as Jeff Bagwell won the award with all 28 first place votes. I don’t blame him; dude pal went .368/39/116, but still!!! .400!? At least Gwynn has 15 All-Star appearance, 5 Gold Gloves and 7 Silver Slugger awards to keep him company. Oh! And that spot in the Hall of Fame.

Maybe next year Bagwell.

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