Padres 20/20 vision: A corrected stigma-tism

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

In 2021, the San Diego Padres are focused with a 20/20 vision on a World Series title. 

As we age, our eyesight fades, and it takes greater effort to see sights right in front of us. Our vision is a depreciating skill, and only about 35% of adults are blessed with 20/20 vision.  There are corrective measures one can use to adapt, but none of us truly gets a choice in the matter.

As time passes, we are also faced with choices in how we choose to see things in life.  Should we be optimistic?  Pessimistic?  Realistic?  Fatalistic?  Maybe, at times, we want to tell others where to “stick” it.  As 2020, a year most of America would rather forget, finally elapses, many people are reassessing and correcting their views of themselves and their futures as is the fashion of the season. Our vision impacts our everyday lives more than we might realize, and the 2020 San Diego Padres have corrected the world’s vision of the organization going forward.

Approximately a year ago, ESPN released this article delving into the worst professional franchises in North American sports. In 2019, it was the Kings of Sacramento, the Bills of Buffalo, and then the Padres of San Diego. The pre-“2020” Padres logged in as nearly the best on the continent at being the worst. This stigma-tism with the franchise after a decade bereft of meaningful baseball again could wear on some Padres fans and alienate the baseball world in general. However, 2020 was the season that corrected that stigma-tism.  How much damage the A.J. Preller and Jayce Tingler-led crew of this past season did to that reputation is yet to be released by ESPN, but it’s sizable and worthy of second mentions.  

San Diego finished with the third-best record in baseball in 2020, and the Padres were second only to eventual World Series champion Los Angeles in the National League.  Their .617 winning percentage set the new high mark for the franchise in a season. This season was the Padres’ first winning season since 2010, and by beating Seattle on September 20, the Padres entered the MLB playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Padres also won their first home playoff game and first postseason series since 1998, and as a bonus, they bested their postseason nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the process. Never in the history of beautiful Petco Park had the Padres won a home playoff game till 2020.  

Additionally, at least in some circles, individual players experienced heights not often reserved for Padres.  Among the many award winners this past season, the Padres had two first-team All-MLB players in shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr. and third baseman Manny Machado. These two players, of the three Padres earning votes, also finished third and fourth in National League MVP voting.  Starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet earned second-team All-MLB standing, and Jake Cronenworth, a jack-of-all-trades second baseman, earned Rookie of the Year consideration. Additionally, centerfielder Trent Grisham earned a Gold Glove, the first organizational win in this category since Chase Headley’s outlier season in 2012.  These are not small accomplishments when they happen in a single season on what has been, apparently, the third-worst organization in professional sports.  

A new decade now begins.  What vision do you have for the upcoming Padres decade?  While submitting this article news broke: A.J. Preller struck again, having acquired 2018 American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell from Tampa Bay for Francisco Mejia, Luis Patino, Cole Wilcox, and Blake Hunt.  Preller is one of the most significant reasons for the recent accolades and future optimism Padres fans now wield, and this acquisition further adds to that legacy.  There have been voids of tangible success in the organizational past, but 2020 continues to provide change and reasons to believe the next decade (or two?) could be monumentally successful.

Another ESPN article, this one by Pedro Gomez, outlines the challenge it takes for San Diego to win when their neighbor to the North and National League West Division rival stand in their way.  Gomez compares the task to that of the 90s Marlins as they watched the Braves win repetitively.  On the one hand, yes, the Dodgers have some historical, geographical, and financial advantages to maybe all but the New York teams in the panorama of the MLB landscape.  It must be a gut punch as Preller leads a monumental turn-around in San Diego, and that is what was for sure, only to see the MLB Executive of the Year Award go to? You guessed it: Andrew Friedman, Los Angeles Dodgers.  

But, on the other hand, the vision Preller and company have provided in this last year of the past decade is bright and wonderful for the organization.  “2020” Vision is hopeful; it’s fearless; it’s expectant.  “2020” Vision realizes there is a moment in time that divides what “was” from what “is.”  The very best franchises in sports, more specifically, have a cadre of people who arrive together and change the results forever.  In contrast, ESPN lists the New England Patriots as the most successful franchise in American professional sports in 2019.  But, in the first 40 years of that franchise’s existence, they only reached the NFL playoffs in 10 seasons, only recording playoff wins in 1963, 1985, 1996, and 1997.  This history is not significantly different from our own Padre history.  The Patriots simply had a moment of greatness coalesce in 2000: Bill Belichick was hired as de facto general manager/head coach, and Tom Brady became their quarterback.  No one could have predicted the two decades of championships and overall dominance to come.

The new ESPN article will presumably appear in the next few days as the end of the year approaches.  Where the Padres emerge in its unveiling is yet a mystery.  It’s easy in life to focus on the disappointments or failures, especially when the days of faith seem to be rewarded only with days of dearth.  As the calendar is about to turn from 2020 to 2021, Padres fans can either focus on the history of disappointments, or they can focus on the here and now.  There is no evidence that great times aren’t right around the corner.  

Reviewing the roster for the upcoming season, it bears repeating: Preller and company did an amazing job not only creating the 2020 team but in making it sustainable for 2021 and presumably much longer.  Let’s look at the team by position as it stands now, long before the final version emerges for opening day in 2021:


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Tony C
Tony C
2 years ago

I will agree with TT. Anyone who thinks we didn’t overpay for Hosmer is likely part of the Hosmer family. I’ll also agree that EVT is a good read. I’ll go further to encourage more interaction. Why bother with a comments section when there are only a few of us who do comment with any regularity. I enjoy Diane’s writing also and she is the only one I believe I’ve seen participate… other than you this one time.

EVT… keep up the good writing.

2 years ago

Please stop with the Hosmer gross exaggerations. He stinks. He might be a great guy, but he stinks. Even his stats are inflated because the Padres continue to bat him cleanup, when he is a 7, 8, or 9 hitter (at least in the new lineup). He does not even make it into the top 10 non-pitchers on his own team!!!!!! He is FAR below average for a first baseman offensively, and horrific defensively. He has one of, if not the worst contract in baseball (output compared to amount paid). Yet in an age of propaganda….he will continue to get propped up. If he sat, and Cronenworth started at 1b, they would be far better offensively and defensively.

“…a title in San Diego will not have come without his efforts on and off the field.” Really? I’m all for the home team, but please be objective.

“What draws us to Pham is his ability to overcome adversity.” Really? What tangibly shows that he has overcome anything? But the bigger concern here, how much of this has he brought on himself? Yet you make him out to be a martyr of sorts, yikes.

James Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  TT


Hosmer was brought here for his “efforts” on and off the field. He certainly has not justified his contract with the bat. The team values his intangibles and that was why he was given so much money. Writing about that fact is hardly an over-exaggeration. You or I can not speak about what he brings to the locker room. So speaking about it is really pointless.

as for Pham… He has battled adversity his whole life. COME ON. From his initial family problems to debilitating eye issues, to the fact the Cardinals gave up on him to play garbage in the outfield. Pham has certainly grinded his whole career and that is what he brings to a team full of millionaires who sometimes can lack focus. He is no martyr, but certainly brings value in the locker room. Again. Something we can really not speak about with true knowledge.

You are free to your opinion. But I think both cases are pretty evident. Just reporting the facts.

2 years ago
Reply to  James Clark

Thanks for commenting.
I realize that it is said Hosmer was brought for his intangibles, off-the-field impact,” etc. If so, that is beyond silly. When this is said, it is usually code, like calling a hitter with no power “a line-drive hitter”; or calling a tiny, rundown home “a cozy, fixer-upper.” It is also used to mitigate or cover up a massive blunder. The fact is, players are not overpaid $50-$100+ million for their intangibles. Plus, there is zero evidence of his leadership, or positive impact in the clubhouse.
The fact is, he did not need to be signed at all. Far worse, there was no competition for his services. Literally every other team (and perhaps every other baseball fan) saw his (rapidly) declining value, and declined to offer much, if anything. Preller bid against himself, and, instead of 3 years at $10 per, he gave 8 years (and $144 million) to an average-ish, on-the-decline player at the easiest to fill position, when it was already filled, which caused multiple players to be displaced, and likely greatly contributed to Myers collapse in play and value. And, in turn, this prevented the Padres from trading their other bloated, foolish contract. That is not opinion.

It is wonderful if Pham has overcome adversity in his life. That, of course, is clearly NOT what the article mentions (e.g. 2020). Let’s not move the goalposts. Furthermore, it was your website (I believe Diane) who did an article questioning his leadership, impact on the team (e.g. locker room), etc, and, due to a series of foolish decisions that put himself and others at risk, and his horrible on the field performance, asked if he should be cut, or not. Those are the words/assertions of EVT, not just me or others.

So, you think both cases are evident, as I do, yet we are perhaps on opposite ends. Such is life these days.

For what it is worth, I would like to commend you, however, for commenting. Your website is good, and provides value, and their is demand for such, but I believe you/it could have even better success if you somehow encouraged more interaction (e.g. in the comment section). Most fans desire this, yet there is, of course, the downside when things get nasty (as is the case in most all comment sections). How you go about encouraging more interaction, I am not sure, and you likely thought about it, but as a reader I wanted to mention this.

James Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  TT

I appreciate the feedback.

This is baseball. We all have an opinion, and not one of us is right. That is my philosophy. I allow my writers to pursue several topics at different angles. As long as their argument or presentation is put together well. Again. I appreciate the criticism and, most of all, the fact you read our work. Thank you.

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