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HOMESICK

Chris Ello
August 18, 2018 - 2:21 pm
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The 1962 New York Mets, generally regarded as the worst, most laughable team in baseball history, won 22 games at home in their inagural season at Shea Stadium.

The 2018 Padres, not regarded by anybody as being anywhere close to the worst team in baseball history, have won 19 games at home so far this season. With 20 or so games left at Petco Park, the Padres should easily blow by the '62 Mets' total (shouldn't they?). Nevertheless, the fact remains, that this year's Padre ballclub is, at best, homesick.

Nineteen wins, 41 losses. That's not even one out of every three. And that's just the beginning of the bad news. Recently the Friars lost 10 straight in their home park. They've only won the first game of a homestand twice the entire season. In the first game of any series at home, they're 3-19. Ugly.

Look. We've been told time and again that the future of the Padres is bright. Maybe so. But guess what? That future is going to include playing games at Petco Park. Half of them every season, even. If San Diego ever wants to contend for anything, it's going to have to find a way to conquer its own not-so friendly confines.

And by the way, the days when Petco Park was simply unfair to hitters are long gone. Sure it's not a band-box, but with the fences in right field moved in and the alleys angled shorter, the Park nowadays plays pretty much straight-up. The Marine layers of April and May could keep a few extra balls in the ballpark, but for the most part blaming Petco for the team's struggles is no longer an acceptable option.

The Padres' highly-ranked minor league system is only going to translate into a highly-ranked major league ballclub if the the much-ballyhooed prospects of San Antonio, El Paso and other places can thrive in America's Finest City. Give you an example: on a recent road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, the Friars' young outfield of Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot and Franmil Reyes swung from their heels and helped the team blast its way to 47 runs in seven games.

Then the team came home. And in the seven games immediately following at Petco Park, the team scored only 21. Renfroe hit one meaningless home run. Margot had a total of one meaningless hit. Reyes didn't have any.

That's not going to cut it.

A lot of it probably is in the heads of the Padres' players. They seem to swing with a lot more confidence on the road than they do at home. It's going to take some good coaching (or a psychologist) to change their way of thinking. The Padres have to get to the point where they look forward to coming home. Petco Park can't be a place of doom and gloom for the offense.

The rival Colorado Rockies used to have similar problems on the road, away from the thin air of Coors Field. The Rox simply couldn't contend because they couldn't hit at sea level. The last couple of years, however, Colorado has a winning record away. That's why it was a Wild Card team last season, and could make the postseason again this year.

The Padres currently can only dream of such success. When (if) they ever awaken, the bats are going to have to work at Petco as well as they do on the road. You can't be 22 games under .500 in your own stadium and ever expect to have success.

Right now, the Padres at home are sick. What they need soon is to find a way to shed their illness. 

They need to create a winning fever.