It’s easy to feel sorry for a franchise, and a fanbase, like the San Diego Padres.
The Phillies did it to them again over the weekend, coming back from early deficits in all three of their wins, including a soul-crusher of a loss in the finale on Sunday, reminiscent of the Phils’ five-game victory in the National League Championship Series last October.
The Padres took a 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader before allowing six runs in the final three innings to lose 6-4. They were up 2-1 heading into the 5th of Game 2 before the Phils exploded for eight runs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings of a 9-4 win, and on Sunday, the Phils trailed 3-0 early, took a 5-3 lead in the 6th, watched as the Padres tied it in the 8th, went ahead in the 10th, tied it in the bottom of the inning with two outs, and then won in the bottom of the 12th.
One only needs to watch Harper’s game-tying single in the 10th to sum up the forlorn Padres’ fanbase.
Of course, Harper’s heroics in Game 5 of the NLCS are still raw for fans of San Diego — as they should be.
The Phillies have owned no team like they have San Diego since their Major League debut in 1969. They are now 282-224 against them, 58 games over .500. That ties them with the Washington Senators from 1891-1899 for success against one team, but it’s also the way they’ve crushed their souls these last two seasons that have Padres fans wondering what they did to deserve this.
Philadelphia fans should be able to relate to what the Padres are going through. The California team has yet to win a World Series and has only ever been to two of them — both times facing teams widely considered to be among the greatest ever assembled.
They lost in 1984 to a Detroit Tigers team that went 104-58, never spent a single day out of first place, and won the AL East by 15 games. And they were swept by a 1998 Yankees squad that went 114-48 and won their division by 22 games.
The Padres have reached the postseason just seven times in their 54-year-history. By comparison, the Phils have been to the playoffs 13 times over that same time period.
San Diego’s payroll is third-highest in baseball, $246.8 million, about $3 million more than the Phillies, and yet they are 44-50, eight games out of the wild card picture. Generally speaking, we don’t feel pity for other franchises, especially when they do things like this.
That said, if there is any fanbase that can identify with Padres’ fans feels, it should be us. This isn’t like the late 2000s when the Phils owned the Dodgers in the NLCS, a team that had more than enough success in their history and didn’t need any more. The Padres deserve a break. They deserve a title, especially when they are one of the few small market teams actually spending money and trying to win it all.
But the Phillies continue to stand in their way, much to our glee and their chagrin.