Tonight, I'd thought I'd share how this young Padre fan became a hater of those damn Yankees. Our story begins on October 17, 1998. It was the first time i've seen my San Diego Padres in the Fall Classic, and Kevin Brown looked decent against New York. Tony Gwynn and Greg Vaghn provided all that David Wells could handle that night, as Vaghn had a two home-run night, and Gwynn's two-run blast that made the upper deck of Yankee Stadium I. That would have been the story of Game 1, had it not been for key events that set the tone for the rest of the series.
2. Having seen enough, then-manager Bruce Bochy yanked Brown for reliever Donne Wall. 2B Chuck Knoblauch knocked a three-run blast that tied the game at 5.
3 (and this was the big one). The bases are loaded and Tino Martinez is at the plate. It was a 2-2 count, and the pitch delivered by Mark Langston was on the nose for strike 3.....or at least, it should have been. Instead, home plate umpire Rich Garcia screwed the Pads on that last call, and Padre fans remember what happened next: Martinez hits a grand-slam to the second deck, thus sealing a Yankees victory, 9-6.
That was a heartbreaking game for most of us to watch, and even harder to see our Pads chewed up and spit out through the last three games. I'm not saying that San Diego could have beaten the '98 Yankees, because, let's be honest: they were too damn good to be denied #24. But it would have been the shot saying that if they wanted another WS trophy, then they were going to have to go through Hell with us to get it, so you could only imagine how deeply satifying it was for me to see New York go down in flames in 2001 vs the Arizona Diamondbacks, in 2003 vs. the Florida Marlins, and imo, the ultimate choke job in 2004 vs. Beantown in the ALCS.