Mercifully, there are only 18 games left for the Dodgers in this 2010 season. And looking at the remaining schedule of games, all of which are against NL West teams--there are only two remaining series with post-season stakes: Sept 14-16 @ the Giants, and Sept 21-13 vs. the Padres.
Both the Giants and Padres are tied atop the NL West and 1.5 games behind Atlanta for the NL Wild Card. The Giants have 18 games left, mostly against cushy teams like the Brewers, Cubs and Diamondbacks, with two extra rest days built in. The Padres have 20 games left, including a ten-game road trip that starts today in Colorado, then host NL Central-leading Cincinnati as part of seven games at home, before ending with three games in SF.
And though the schedule is stacked against them and they're fading down the stretch, the Padres should be the team Dodger fans support.
Here are five reasons which come to top-of-mind as I sit on a Sunday night with a beer and a laptop:
1. The Padres are one of the two pleasant surprises in the NL this year. No one expected the Reds or Padres to last into the late season, and despite an early September swoon, here's San Diego, a team most people picked fourth or fifth in the NL West before the season began. They're doing it with stepped-up performances from unexpected sources like Chris Denorfria, Ryan Ludwick and Yorvit Torrealba, as well as mid-season pickup Miguel Tejada; and their pitching, led by rookie Mat Latos, washed-up Giant Kevin Correia, washed-up Dodger Jon Garland, and youngster Clayton Richard, and of course the league-leading bullpen nicknamed the "Pen-itentiary". If there's a nice underdog story, it's them.
2. The Padres are Star Wars fans, according to ESPN the Magazine--stimulated by an unlikely source:
"And inspired by shorrtstop David Eckstein's wife, Ashley, who voices one of the characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, the bullpen has adopted a Star Wars motif. The younger guys, most often Ryan Webb, carry a Yoda backpack filled with snacks out to the pen before every game.
MSB's wife? Holy Ashoka Tano! This news, which I read in the Sept 20 2010 issue ("The List Issue" cover story), is causing me to re-think everything about MSB. Okay, maybe not everything.
3. The Padres may trot out those embarrassing camouflage uniforms at a rate more often than fashion police would recommend, true. But at least they don't inflict snuggie-wannabes on their fans for stadium giveaways. That shit ain't right.
4. Should the Padres make the postseason, it will be a lot easier for Dodger fans to both acquire playoff tickets (the Padres have the majors' 19th-best attendance and the 18th-best capacity % level), as well as travel to the stadium for a game (you can't get more convenient or economical than taking the Surfrider train from Union Station).
5. The Padres aren't the Giants.