It may seem like a mirage now, but the Padres did indeed go into the All-Star break last year on top of the National League West with a 51-37 record, second in the National League only to the Braves. San Diego scored 72 runs more than it allowed, whereas this year's team, which today takes a 40-51 record into its final game before the break, has scored 31 fewer than it has given up. Lurking four games back in 2010 were the Giants, who for all their great pitching, which would carry them to the playoffs and the World Series victory, had allowed 26 runs more than the Padres.
Chase Headley remembers those fun, not so distant days. The third baseman spoke of them recently to this blog.
"Last year, obviously we would have liked to win one more game and get into the (163rd game) and the playoffs," he said. "But that was one of the most rewarding teams I've ever been on, if not the most rewarding team, because it was completely comprised of selfless people. Nobody cared about anything but winning games. And when the expectations were so low and you just heard people keep chirping from the outside, saying, 'This is going to fall apart, they're not any good,' it was very satisfying to play that type of baseball for an entire year, even though we fell a little short. You win 90 games, it's a pretty good season. So I looked at that as a really good experience."
Headley, who is having his best season, said he "learned a lot" from several veteran teammates last year, mentioning fellow infielders David Eckstein and Adrian Gonzalez. "I think that's what I've been most thankful for, getting to play with those guys, trying to pick their brains and model not really my game after them, but their approach to the game, how they prepared, how hard they played the game, and the consistent mental approach," he said.