History of The San Diego Padres - 1998: The Second Pennant

1998: The Second Pennant

See also: 1998 San Diego Padres season

In 1998, Henderson and Valenzuela were gone, but newly acquired (from the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins) pitcher Kevin Brown had a sensational year (his only one with the Padres) and outfielder/slugger Greg Vaughn hit 50 home runs (overlooked in that season of the Mark McGwire–Sammy Sosa race). Managed by Bruce Bochy and aided by the talents of players such as Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Wally Joyner, Steve Finley, pitcher Andy Ashby and premier closer Trevor Hoffman (4–2, 1.48 ERA and 53 saves), the Padres had their best year in history, finishing 98–64 and winning the NL West division crown.

In the next year, the team owners would make a bid to have the city of San Diego construct a new stadium for the Padres. To guarantee that the city fathers would vote in the affirmative, the Padres recruited a record number of players for the 1998 season, most of whom would become free agents in 1999. Therefore, they would have the best incentive to have a successful season, to get the best contracts possible (potentially with other teams), in 1999. This gambit was completely successful : The Padres had a record season, the new Ball Park was approved, most of the stars of 1998 left, and the team would have a lackluster year in 1999.

The Padres defeated the Houston Astros in the 1998 NLDS, 3 games to 1, behind solid pitching by Brown and Hoffman, and home runs by Greg Vaughn, Wally Joyner and Jim Leyritz (who homered in 3 of the 4 games).

In the 1998 NLCS, the Padres faced the Atlanta Braves, who had won the National League East with an astonishing 106–56 record. The offense was paced by talent such as Andrés Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Javy López. Their pitching staff had the perennial big-3 of Greg Maddux (18–9, 2.22 ERA), Tom Glavine (20–6, 2.47 ERA), and John Smoltz (17–3, 2.90 ERA), as well as Kevin Millwood (17–8, 4.08 ERA) and Denny Neagle (16–11, 3.55 ERA). However, it was the Padres that would prevail, 4 games to 2, with ace Kevin Brown pitching a shutout in game 2 (winning 3–0). Steve Finley caught a pop fly for the final out, as the Padres clinched the series.

In the 1998 World Series the Padres faced the powerhouse New York Yankees, who had steamrolled through the season with a 114–48 record and drew acclaim as one their greatest teams of all time. There was no offensive player with more than 30 home runs, in contrast to the teams of the 1920s, or 1950s, but they had four players with 24+ and eight with 17+. Yankee pitching had been paced by David Cone (20–7, 3.55), Andy Pettitte (16–11, 4.24), David Wells (18–4, 3.49), Hideki Irabu (13–9, 4.06) and Orlando Hernández (12–4, 3.13). Mariano Rivera, their closer, was excellent once again (3–0, 1.91 ERA with 36 saves).

The Yankees swept the Padres in four games. Mariano Rivera closed out 3 of the 4 games. One of the few bright spots of the series for the Padres was a home run by Tony Gwynn, in Game 1 that hit the facing of the right-field upper deck at Yankee Stadium and put the Padres ahead briefly, 5–2. But the Yankees would score 7 runs in the 7th inning en route to a 9–6 victory.

This World Series loss by the Padres was the only time during the Yankees' dynasty of the 1990s that did not revive the rivalry between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Three of the four Yankees championships during their dynasty came against either team (1996 and 1999 against Atlanta, 2000 against New York).

Read more about this topic:  History Of The San Diego Padres

Famous quotes containing the word pennant:

    They are preparing to begin again:
    Problems, new pennant up the flagpole
    In a predicated romance.
    John Ashbery (b. 1927)