Here on Friars on Base, we have been recounting our favorite moments from Padres games we’ve been too. For someone whose never been farther west than Omaha, Nebraska it’s a little difficult to have a favorite in-person moment, so I’ll tell the story of how someone whose never been further west than Omaha, Nebraska became a Padres fan.
My first year I bought MLB.TV was 2011. I tried to watch as much baseball as I could from the first day of the season. Whenever there was a game on, I was watching. I’d usually turn to the Padres games for the late night west coast games, because I knew the Padres pitching would keep them in the game and their lack of hitting would keep the opposition in the game. Despite watching a good chunk of Padres games, I didn’t develop any allegiance towards them. I watched the games because it was baseball, it didn’t matter who was on.
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That all changed on Sunday, June 26th. It was an afternoon game, so I don’t know why I was watching, but somehow I found myself engrossed in this Padres/Braves battle. It might have been, because Tim Hudson was starting for the Braves and I always pull for my fellow Tims. Opposing Hudson was a guy who I had never really heard of, Cory Luebke, who was making his first start of the season. Luebke went on to throw 5 shutout innings, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 6. The Padres would go on to win the game with a 4-run 8th, but that didn’t matter all that much to me. I was fascinated with Luebke. A guy whose name I had only heard briefly mentioned on the local Padres broadcasts, dominated the Braves that day and I just had a whole lot of fun just watching him pitch.
From there on out, I made it a point to watch every Luebke start. His next start was as good as the first, if not better. He went 6 innings this time, still without allowing a run on just 2 hits and 7 strikeouts. After that, he finally allowed a couple runs, but he punched out 8 in the process. This was the first time I’d found myself enjoying watching just one player more than the game itself since I watched Pedro Martinez as a little kid.
I couldn’t even figure out what made Luebke so much fun to watch, but I just kept coming back for more. Eventually I just decided to watch all Padres games,so that it became habit and I’d never miss a Luebke start. Once you start to watch a team everyday, you begin to learn the players’ names and you start to pull for them. That’s why when Luebke went down in 2012 I kept coming back to the Padres night after night. I couldn’t keep myself away. It was no longer Luebke, but a collection of 25 guys who I wanted to see win every night. Now I’m here writing about the team and follow every last move they make whether it be DFA’ing Irving Falu or trading for Justin Upton. All because of Cory Luebke.
Hopefully Luebke can get healthy at some point in 2015 and make a return to the Padres. It will make rooting for this great team just a little bit sweeter.