The San Diego Padres lost their seventh straight game Wednesday night and, even though they still lead the NL West by four games in the loss column, Joe Posnanski fears the worst for Adrian Gonzalez(notes) (helmet) and manager Bud Black.
Though he praises the Friars for their solid starting pitching, their solid defense and their ridiculous lockdown bullpenitentiary, Poz is still not sure how the team with the No. 21 offense in the majors had the best record in the NL until last week.
Choosing to not mince words, Posnanski went and compared the first-place Padres to a recent squad from his hometown team, the Kansas City Royals.
Losing seven straight in a pennant race is bad, but there's no need for slurs, sir!
In 2003, the Kansas City Royals were in first place until the end of August. The thing that made it wonderful and baffling all at once is that nobody was quite sure how they were doing it. It was like a magic trick. I was watching them every single day, and I had no idea how it was done. Only, it really wasn't like a magic trick. At a Vegas magic show, when you don't know how something is done you think, "This guy's is a great magician." In baseball, when you don't know how something is done you think, "Oh boy, this ain't gonna last."
Posnanski's opinion is probably uniform with most of America, which has been waiting on the Great San Diego Collapse since May. And then June. Later, July. Into August. And everything after.
Speaking of the Counting Crows, the headline of Posnanski's post — "The Padres and a Long September" — recalls one of their hits, "A Long December."
But here's the thing about "A Long December": It's actually an optimistic tune.
Aside from "Mr. Jones," most Counting Crows tend to be good musical companions for the apocalypse. "December," though sad-sounding, has an upbeat lyric right out of the batter's box.
A long December, and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last.
I see a seven-game losing streak and marvel that it took this long. Baseball seasons feel interminable. The Padres gave us 4 3/4 months of winning baseball. It's just a slump. I'm aligning myself with their body of work over five months.
They play 17 of their remaining 30 games at PETCO. They play 13 times against the Giants and the Rockies — so they control their own fate. They're healthy. They're relatively young. They can do this.
One of the commenters on Posnanski's post made a simply brilliant point: These Padres are less the '03 Royals (a mediocre team in a bad division) and more like the '85 Royals. Those guys had the best pitching in baseball, a suspect offense led by one superstar (George Brett/Adrian Gonzalez) and a certain obnoxious winning way about them. Few believed in the '85 Royals, either.
Look at some of the other similarities:
And, of course — Bud Black (LHP): Bud Black (manager).
It IS, eerie, Commenter Mike Williams. Seeing Brett hug Saberhagen (pictured) brings it all home. That could be Gonzalez and Latos a month from now.
That was the column. I think the Padres will give Posnanski another chance to write it.
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