By Sam Kroin
It is an odd season of baseball to say the least. With its 7 inning double headers, altered extra inning rules, and 60 game season, nothing seems normal about the MLB this year. It should come as no surprise, then, that the historically disappointing and irrelevant San Diego Padres are the hottest and most exciting team in baseball. Fernando Tatis is lighting up the majors with a .313 batting average and a league leading 33 RBIs, the Padres lead the league in runs and slugging percentage, and they find themselves with a 22-15 record, chasing the MLB leading Dodgers for the division crown. But how did this success come to be? Well, it didn’t happen all at once – the building blocks were there last season, but things just didn’t seem to really click. Padres fans entered the 2019 season with newfound enthusiasm and hope for their team. San Diego had signed all star 3rd baseman Manny Machado in the offseason, and were feeling good about their bullpen core led by Kirby Yates. However, when the season rolled around, the Padres severely disappointed, finishing dead last in the division with a 70-92 record. The season was not a total disaster though, because the Padres showed glimpses of promise through their new young stars. In just 84 games, Fernando Tatis Jr electrified the league with his bat and athleticism, putting himself in the ROY conversation. Also, the emergence of Chris Paddack gave the team an ace-like starter that had been sorely needed while Kirby Yates continued to dominate in the bullpen. There was potential in this team, but what the Padres really needed was a culture change – and that was exactly what they were going to get. In the offseason, Padres ownership decided to change the color scheme for the team back to its original brown and yellow and let their young stars run the show. This season the Padres have been electric, hitting four grand slams in four straight games to earn the monaker “Slam Diego”. Fernando Tatis continues to move the game forward by breaking the unwritten rules of baseball, swinging on 3-0 counts and stealing bases when up 9 runs, and Manny Machado has returned to all star form. In a short span of time the Padres have evolved from a culture of losing to a team that represents a youth and attitude that is the shot in the arm baseball needs. Is the Padres success a short lived dream that’s only made possible by a 60 game season. Maybe. Will they crumble in the playoffs to superior pitching. Perhaps. But for now we should all sit back and enjoy the greatest show in baseball this year: The 2020 San Diego Padres.