There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres have a lot of animosity toward the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The feeling is justified, as the Dodgers have dominated the division for the last ten years, and it isn’t even close. Los Angeles has won 91 games or more every year in the previous ten years of play. The only year they didn’t win that many games was the 2020 Covid-shortened season, in which LA went on to win their only World Series title since 1988. This 2022 season, the Dodgers won 111 games, tied for the fourth most in MLB history.
The Dodgers are a great team and have repeatedly picked apart San Diego’s deficiencies. During the 2022 season, San Diego won only five of 19 games against the Dodgers and failed to win a single series all year. In critical situations, the Padres’ hitters failed this season, and the starting staff has not received run support.
However, the playoffs are essentially a new season—a new beginning. Trent Grisham put away the stink of the 2022 season to be a massive part of the offense during the Padres series win over the Mets. Anything can happen. Baseball is funny like that.
Los Angeles has made intelligent baseball moves in signing and acquiring talent over the last decade, providing a stable franchise built to win now. In years past, the franchise made foolish acquisitions and handed out money carelessly to players. Though the Dodgers still have the highest annual salary of any franchise, they have learned to allocate funds toward productive players.
San Diego has slowly built their franchise to be relevant. When general manager A.J. Preller was hired in 2014, the organization immediately began to discover an identity. Preller and the Padres made a huge splash in the winter of 2014-15 and traded for Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers (among others). The MLB community began to recognize the Padres as a competitive team, and people were talking about the baseball team from San Diego for the first time in a while.
That first attempt to win from this regime was unsuccessful, but it energized a dormant fanbase. It showed that the ownership group was committed to winning. Something that was a bit of a mirage presented to Padres fans for years and years. There were seasons of hope in the first 35-plus years of the franchise, but they were quickly followed by firesales and liquidation of assets. There was no stability for the fans, which hurt the club’s overall value.
Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler deserve tons of praise for creating a stable franchise in San Diego. The Padres are spending money, and the team is getting rewarded by its fans in attendance and merchandise sales. The 2022 Padres came up just short of three million tickets sold, which was the second-highest total in the organization’s history. Only the 2004 Padres, amid the first year of Petco Park, drew more visitors to the stadium.
There are Padres fans all over the nation. People who have never set foot in San Diego. That was unheard of before this recent regime. The marketing department has done well to present a suitable commodity to the world. With an energized play and a roster full of international talent, the Padres have finally gone outside their own county to secure fans. The team knows that fans worldwide are starving for baseball, and they don’t have a major league home team. These people are baseball fan free agents, and the Padres are scooping them up by the handful. From Korea and Japan to Colombia and Curacao, the Padres possess fans in dozens and dozens of countries.
The Dodgers have handled the Padres in the last few seasons. The San Francisco Giants are the Dodgers actual rival, and history dictates that, but the Padres are certainly a great annoyance to Los Angeles. The fans regard the Padres as their ‘little brother’. A franchise that is only striving to be like its elder sibling. The Dodgers may have laid down the game plan for a competitive franchise, but San Diego only looks up to them in a business manner.
The Padres are their own entity, and their exciting brand of baseball looks to be the future of the sport. There will be only one way to gain respect if you are the Padres. To shed that “little brother” label, they must win this series. It is not an insurmountable task, but it will surely take a team effort to complete. San Diego must play inspired baseball. The Padres are capable, and that is what makes this five-game series must-watch T.V.