“Slam” Diego Padres Poised for Playoff Run

Zachary Grover, Sports Editor

 “Struck him out and the Padres win!” boomed Padres Play-by-Play Broadcaster Don Orsillo’s voice after Pitcher Trevor Rosenthal struck out the final batter, marking the Padres’ victory over the Seattle Mariners on September 20. The game allowed the Padres to clinch a spot in Major League Baseball’s postseason tournament for the first time in 14 years. Yes — it’s been that long. As Padres Color Analyst Mark Grant often says, “These aren’t your father’s Padres.”

   The 2020 Padres are led by a unique and talented cast of players. Athletes like Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who is in the conversation for National League MVP, and Second Baseman Jake Cronenworth, who seems to be a shoe-in for National League Rookie of the Year, have stepped up this season and grabbed the attention of the entire League, according to CBS Sports. Third Baseman Manny Machado is a bonafide superstar, and a former American League MVP. Not to mention, starting Pitcher Dinelson Lamet has an outside shot at the National League Cy Young Award, the award given to the best pitcher in both the National and American Leagues (cbssports.com). 

   Baseball pundits and Twitter users everywhere have crowned the Padres as “…baseball’s most exciting team to watch,” and the young stars of the Padres are a big reason why. Tatis Jr. has amassed a very impressive highlight reel throughout his young career, garnering praise from many current and former MLB players, like Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, and has rendered Padres announcers Orsillo and Grant either speechless or screaming in awe. He most recently topped an ESPN list of the most exciting players in the game of baseball today (espn.com).

   The Padres also etched their names into baseball’s history books earlier in the season, according to the MLB, when they became the first team to hit a grand slam in four straight games. Tatis, who made a grown man (ager) cry in the process, hit a grand slam, and was followed by another one, courtesy of Outfielder Wil Myers, in the next game. They were followed by Machado and first baseman Eric Hosmer in two consecutive games (mlb.com). 

   As seems customary for 2020, the Padres had to outdo themselves. After a game break,  Cronenworth barreled up a fastball and drove it over the right field fence for the Padres fifth grand slam in six games. Orsillo appropriately nicknamed the team the “Slam Diego” Padres, which quickly stuck and inspired shirts, jerseys, and other merchandise. The Padres even changed their official Twitter account to the “Slam Diego Padres” during the grand slam streak (mlb.com).

   The excitement around the city has been unmistakable as the Padres are up near the top of the standings and officially playoff bound. UC High Baseball Coach Richard Frink, a lifelong Padres fan, enjoyed the season and is excited for the playoffs. “There is definitely a buzz around the team because all the players make it fun to watch games,” he said. “The Padres have so much talent, youthful energy, and confidence,” he continued. Frink added that as the team’s confidence grew, so did fans’ confidence in the team. “The Padres showed that they want to win now [with the trades at the trade deadline],” said Frink. 

   UC High Junior Alyssa Kaplan, who is also a lifelong Padres season ticket holder,  is excited about the team but also disappointed fans aren’t allowed in the stands. “I’ve been going to games since I was a month old,” she stated, “I’m so happy about [the season], but I’m also bummed that this great season was only watchable from home.” UC Junior Nadiv Meltzer also stated that he was excited about the team and the season. “It’s super exciting,” he said. “The team is set up to be as good as this if not better for the future. It’s awesome.”

   The Padres advanced to the National League Division Series to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in a best-of-five series in Arlington, Texas, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals in thrilling fashion. On the back of five home runs near the end of Game 2, the Padres forced a winner take all Game 3, which they won definitively

   As the Padres continue their incredible season, San Diegans and fans across the nation will be keeping a close eye on their success.