Sunday afternoon the San Diego Padres finished a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, opening the second half of the season with a bang. The Friars outscored Arizona 26-10 over the weekend and have shown more life offensively over the past few weeks than they have for most of the season.
Despite the fact that on July 19 the Padres have the best record in the National League 54-37, ESPN (for the third straight day) did not run a headline about San Diego in its list of top baseball stories of the day. Above is a screenshot of what ESPN thought the top stories in baseball were yesterday.
Apparently the fact that the Dodgers were swept is important and a note about Roy Oswalt being sort of injured is more important than a team extending its division lead to four games by a sweep, and moving to the third-best record in baseball.
The Padres are certainly the biggest surprise of the Major League Baseball season thus far. ESPN ran 100 simulations of the season back in Spring Training, and the Padres won the National League West zero times. Zero. San Diego only won the Wild Card once in those simulations, and ranked as the 29th-worst team in baseball. Sports Illustrated also ranked the Padres dead last in the N.L. West in its 2010 baseball preview.
At this point, the Padres have allowed just 314 runs, best in the majors and 24 ahead of the second place team (San Francisco Giants at 338). San Diego also carries a run differential of plus-88, third best in baseball.
The Padres have done all of that with No. 1 starter Chris Young out all season and with starting outfielders Will Venable and Kyle Blanks currently on the Disabled List.
How have they done it? By having someone new step up every night.
On Sunday reserve outfielder Chris Denorfia went 4-for-4 with two home runs, two RBI and three runs in San Diego’s 6-4 win.
Saturday night it was catcher Yorvit Torrealba playing the hero by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI in an 8-5 win.
Friday night the whole lineup stepped up in a 12-1 rout, in the team’s first game after the All-Star break.
Yet on none of those days did the Worldwide Leader mention anything about the Padres in their headline section.
And another thing, why is Heath Bell still listed in ESPN’s Rumors Central as one of the relievers potentially available for a contending team? Since when is a division leading team’s closer on the market? When was the last time a playoff-bound team traded its closer? ESPN has crossed Bobby Jenks off the list because the White Sox are now in first place in the A.L. Central, but haven’t done the same thing for Bell.
Will ESPN ever give the Padres the respect they deserve? At this point in the season the team’s success can’t be just a fluke.
Maybe they should ask Heath Bell what he thinks about ESPN and Baseball Tonight. Oh, wait, we already know.