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The San Diego Padres: Baseball's best team story in 2010?

Big League Stew

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With a 5-0 victory over the D'Backs on Tuesday night, the San Diego Padres earned their 75th win of the season. That matches the entire victory output of San Diego's 2009 squad and there are still 38 games left before the playoffs start in early October.

Indeed, it's a pretty good time to be a proud Papas follower. San Diego owns the best record in the National League, the second-biggest division lead in baseball — 5.5 games over the San Francisco Giants — and has a 95 percent chance of securing a playoff berth, according to Baseball Prospectus. All by a team that was picked by most to finish last in the NL West this season (a prediction I've already apologized profusely for).

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Barring a late-season collapse, Bud Selig and FOX executives will be in a position where they're praying that the fourth-smallest TV market in the league won't possibly be squaring off against the second-smallest (Cincinnati) in the NLCS — before a potential World Series matchup with Tampa Bay or Texas.

Yet as we come down the stretch, I think real baseball fans have to be pretty excited about what's going on.

MVP candidate Joey Votto(notes) and the Reds are resurrecting baseball mania in Cincinnati with their lead on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers battled through their bankruptcy woes and will be in a good position to win the first playoff series in team history. The Rays are neck-and-neck with the Yankees in the AL East.

The Padres, though, are my favorite story, just because absolutely no one saw this coming. Throw in the fact that they haven't buckled in the face of a midseason surge by the San Francisco Giants and what they've done is even more admirable. The bulk of the team probably doesn't even get recognized in La Jolla, but that's no indication of their true achievement.

I'd be lying if I said I still didn't have concerns about their young pitching staff going forward as the innings pile up, but I've also had them since May. If you're at all thinking about hopping aboard their bandwagon as your own team has crashed and burned, this might be the time.

Which underdog story are you pulling for the most?

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