As much as I love the Padres, I am a huge pessimist. Sure, I keep the faith, and love this team no matter what, but sometimes it is just so hard to stay positive. I also scoffed at the notion of Jeff Suppan starting for the Padres–especially on a day when they had a chance to win their first series of the year. I joked about Suppan’s age (he is like 100) and the fact he had not won a ballgame since 2010. Well, Old Man River shut up all of the pundits, and pitched the Padres to a series win.
Suppan is a great story. He made his major league debut way back in 1995, when Ace of Base was tearing up the Billboard charts, and film audiences were captivated by Kevin Costner in ‘Waterworld.’ Suppan was just a young pup, all of 20 years old. That Red Sox lineup featured the likes of Jose Canseco and Mo Vaughn. Suppan faced the Kansas City Royals, and allowed his first home run that night to former Padre Keith Lockhart.
Suppan bounced around a little after that night. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1997 Expansion Draft, and played for several teams, before signing a huge contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Ultimately, Suppan flamed out with the Brew-Crew, and drew the ire of the fans. Heck, one fan even tried to sell Suppan on Ebay. Once Suppan was released by Milwaukee, it seemed like his career was over.
Many pitchers would have called it quits. However, Suppan is not most pitchers. He kept pitching, despite little interest from big-league clubs. He spent the 2011 season pitching AAA with the Omaha Storm Chasers, with no sniff at a big league job. Suppan is not pitching because he needs the money–he has made nearly $60 million in his career. He simply loves the game. How many other 13-year veterans would exchange first class flights, million dollar salaries, and penthouse suites for 12-hour bus rides, small paychecks, and Motel 6 stops? Suppan is an easy player to cheer for, a positive story, amongst the disaster that has been the 2012 Padres.
Soup gave the Padres a great outing, and a veteran presence that this team could use. Once Cory Luebke returns from the DL, it would not be a bad idea to keep Suppan as a long man in the pen. Sure, perhaps this outing today was just an aberration, but I will be rooting for Suppan. How can you not?