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The Padres are not the Dodgers (and that’s okay)

It’s a good thing that Padres fans care, but realistic expectations are important, too.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I haven’t written a game recap for either of the last two San Diego Padres games, both of them 1-run losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers where the Padres had the lead fairly late in the game.

Part of this has been because I am watching my toddler by myself while my wife is out of town, which puts me somewhere between overwhelmingly busy and incredibly exhausted. The other part is that it’s hard to find the words to describe what these games mean or should mean.

Here’s my best attempt:

What losing this series means

Nothing! At least, not to me.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the three best teams in baseball, have been for years, and spend about twice what the Padres do on player salaries. They have infinite resources to pour into their farm system, scouting department, front office, and coaching.

In the last four seasons, the Dodgers have...

  • Lost to the NL Champion
  • Lost to the World Series Champion
  • Lost in the World Series
  • Lost in the World Series

The Padres tanked and schemed to build a team that might one day be able to compete with the Dodgers, and all of their money. Today is not that day.

The Padres are still throwing out a pitching staff chock full of unproven rookies. And, yes, even the Padres will struggle to build a dominant bullpen some years.

If you want to make the argument that Andy Green has made some bad calls in these two games, I certainly won’t argue with you. But that’s not my big takeaway from this series.

What losing this series should mean

Here is where we start playing the “head vs. heart” game.

Everything above is your head. And here’s one more:

The Padres have been very close to beating the Dodgers in both of these games, and they’re doing it without Fernando Tatis Jr., without Luis Urias (whom I still believe in), and without a catcher that can hit his body weight at this level. This is a great sign!

There’s a ton of reason to believe that the 2020 Padres are going to be better than the 2019 Padres. There’s even reason to believe that the 2021 Padres will be even better than the 2020 Padres!

If the 2019 Padres can put a scare into the Dodgers, this team isn’t all that far from being able to compete with them. (Author’s Note: The Dodgers will probably just buy good young pitchers to replace their old pitchers that keep getting embarrassed by Manny Machado, and they’ll probably also be better.)

Now, about that heart.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in every game, and easy to be disappointed if the Padres miss an opportunity to win a game against a division rival. In the grand scheme of things, the Padres are still over .500 and ahead of schedule.

The thing with losing about half of your games is that 1) a lot of pretty good teams do it and 2) it’s better to lose those games to the Dodgers than it is to lose them to the Reds.

So, sit back and relax when the Padres play the Dodgers this year. Remind yourself that one team’s season is a success if they make the playoffs and the other’s is a failure if they don’t win the World Series. Smile and check on how the Padres’ top prospects are doing, and remember that it’s a great time to be a Padres fan.