It’s a tough time for sports fans everywhere. Let’s look back at some of the best times in Padres history and see who indeed was the best.
1998 and 1984 are the two most successful seasons in San Diego Padres history. The 1998 squad won 98 games while the 1984 version won 92, both reaching the World Series, the two appearances in team history.
What if these two teams played against each other?
First, we must acknowledge that the greatest Padres player of all-time, Tony Gwynn, was on both teams. He will be his 1984 and 1998 self on the respective teams. Also, Bruce Bochy managed the 1998 squad, but before he was a coach, he was the backup catcher for the 1984 team.
The rules are that each team is playing strictly in that situation of that season, 1998 or 1984, regardless of the player’s career trajectory or the outdated style of play. Imagine the 1984 team going through a time machine and arriving in 1998 to play that year’s Padres squad (which might interfere with the nature of the present as Tony Gwynn would have met his future self). This will be in a best-of-seven game scenario.
Let’s go game by game.
1998 will have a home-field advantage, using the 2-3-2 format.
The decision for the Game 1 starter for 1998 manager Bruce Bochy is obvious. Kevin Brown will be the ace taking the hill for Team 1998, who had one of the greatest single seasons by a Padres pitcher in his lone year with the club, with an 8.6 WAR and 164 ERA+. He started Game 1 for the Division Series and World Series in that postseason run.
Opposite Brown will be Eric Show for Team 1984. The Friars’ all-time wins leader had a 106 ERA+ with a 2.1 WAR in that pennant-winning season.
Clearly, this matchup favors Brown.
In the lineups, Team 1998 comes stocked with power. Greg Vaughn’s 50-homer season still stands as the franchise’s best season total, Ken Caminiti is just two years removed from winning the National League MVP, and Tony Gwynn, Wally Joyner, and Quilvio Veras also turned in 100-plus OPS+ seasons.
Team 1984 has one thing that 1998 did not, and that is Tony Gwynn in his athletic prime. He posted a 6.3 WAR, his third-highest total in his career as he won his first of eight batting titles with a head-spinning .351 average.
It should be noted that Kevin McReynolds got injured during the NLCS and was unable to play in the 1984 Fall Classic against the Detroit Tigers. In this simulation, he will be healthy and able to play in the series between the two Friars clubs.
Newly acquired 39-year-old veteran Graig Nettles swatted 20 home runs in the regular season and provided some pop, but in Game 1, Kevin Brown shuts it all down as he goes seven innings of shutout ball, striking out nine.
In this game, Greg Vaughn launches a home run, driving in Quilvio Veras and Steve Finley and the Team 1998 rides a gem from their ace to a 4-1 victory, with 1984’s lone run coming off of a clutch RBI single by Gwynn after Alan Wiggins, who had 70 steals during the regular season, stole second base ahead of him.
None other than Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman closes the game and earns the save for 1998.
Final: 1998 (4), 1984 (1)
1998 leads 1-0
Mark Thurmond takes the hill for 1984, trying to even up the series. The fifth-round pick of the 1979 draft had the best season of his eight-year career in 1984, with a 2.97 ERA, 121 ERA+, and a 2.3 WAR.
Opposite Thurmond is Andy Ashby for 1998, who posted a 4.7 WAR and 117 ERA+ for the National League champs.
As did the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the N.L. Division Series, team 1984, gets to Ashby for a few runs early, thanks to extra-base hits by Gwynn and Steve Garvey, two of the five former Padres players with their number retired.
1998 counteracts with a blast by slugger Ken Caminiti, tying the game at two apiece heading into the late innings.
Kevin McReynolds gets a chance to play hero and does not disappoint, sending a ball into the palm trees beyond the fence at Qualcomm Stadium, giving 1984 a slim 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
1984 has a Hall of Fame closer of their own as Rich “Goose” Gossage comes into the game late and tosses a perfect frame, clinching the victory for Team 1984.
Final: 1984 (3), 1998 (2)
Series tied 1-1
During his postseason run, Hitchcock showed the squad that he is clutch, despite his somewhat pedestrian regular-season numbers (a career 90 ERA+). That becomes evident in this game as he mostly quiets 1984’s lineup to start the game.
Meanwhile, 1998 chips away at Whitson, with a two-run double by Wally Joyner followed by an RBI single by catcher Carlos Hernandez.
1998 leads 3-0 after six, but 1984 finally chases Hitchcock from the game in the seventh with a leadoff double by 1984’s catcher, Terry Kennedy. After reliever Dan Miceli replaces Hitchcock, 1984 gets on the board as that version of Gwynn once again comes through with a run-scoring single.
The score is a tight 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, where Hoffman tries to close it out against the heart of 1984’s order. After allowing a leadoff single to Garvey, Hoffman retires Nettles and McReynolds, both representing the tying run, with his signature magic changeup.
Kennedy is 1984’s last hope, and he works a walk, giving way for outfielder Carmelo Martinez to try and walk it off, representing the winning run. Hoffman buckles down and retires the right-handed Puerto Rican outfielder to clinch the game for 1998 and re-take the series lead.
Final: 1998 (3), 1984 (1)
1998 leads 2-1
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