There are two major sports franchises in San Diego, the Padres and Chargers. Hopefully, it will stay that way for eternity. There is much still in the air about the fate of the Chargers football team remaining in San Diego. They are hoping for a $1.8 billion stadium downtown. The “Vote Yes on C” campaign has begun with an uphill climb.
With the Chargers season looming just a few weeks away, let us compare the two pro sports teams that San Diegans hold dear.
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The very fact that the Chargers in San Diego is in question is a difference. The Padres are here to stay. Petco Park is only 12 years old. They are in the middle of a 22-year contract with Petco for the rights of the ballpark being named Petco Park. They are receiving some $60 million for that. The Padres are very much apart of why downtown San Diego has flourished and bloomed.
The Padres have not been to the playoffs since 2006. Only twice since then have the Padres put together winning seasons, in 2007 and 2010. Since the Padres’ last postseason berth (counting the 2006 NFL season), the Chargers have reached the playoffs 5 times, with another two winning seasons without playoffs mixed in.
The Chargers have enjoyed far more success in the last decade. The Chargers also boast the 2006 NFL MVP in running back LaDanian Tomlinson and the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year in Philip Rivers. The only individual awards the Padres have won in that same time are Jake Peavy‘s 2007 Cy Young and Chase Headley‘s Gold Glove in 2012.
The Chargers’ powder blue alternate uniforms have been constantly named the best alternate uniforms in football. Even their new navy, yellow and white is a good look. People seem to like the Bolts’ threads. When a lightning bolt is your logo, you can get creative. The Bolts just look good.
The Padres on the other hand have been consistently criticized for their vanilla and boring uniforms. The oh-so-common navy on white with road grays induces yawns from the Padres fanbase. There is even an entire Twitter account and hashtag for Bring Back the Brown. Padres fans are clearly unhappy with the Friars’ current look. Although I personally think the yellow trim on the home whites are a great step in the right direction.
Both the Padres and Chargers have been bad enough recently to get good draft picks. The Padres drafted highly touted prospect Donavan Tate 3rd overall in 2009. He never reached higher than Single-A and has a lifetime .226 average in 299 career minor league games. Or the Padres draft a good player and trade them away before they can contribute with the big league club. We saw that with Joe Ross, who is now in the rotation of a playoff team in the Washington Nationals. Trea Turner is another example, who now is also a National and is hitting .335 and a.904 OPS in 37 games.
The Chargers’ draft issues have been well documented this offseason. The Joey Bosa Soap Opera is exhibit A. Whether you are on the organization’s side or Bosa’s side, things are getting ridiculous as Week 1 looms close. Every team has busts in their history. Though it’s not fair to call Melvin Gordon a bust yet but the Bolts selected him 15th overall and he did not score a single touchdown in his rookie season despite 217 touches. In 2009, the Bolts drafted defensive end Larry English 16th overall and only started 9 games in 5 seasons.
This is not entirely fair with the Chargers if you count their 1963 AFL championship before they became apart of the NFL. Let’s just call this zero Super Bowl championships. The Bolts have only reached the Super Bowl once, in 1994. They were slaughtered by Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers. Despite 13 playoff appearances since joining the NFL, the Bolts are without a Super Bowl ring. They have also lost in the AFC championship game three times.
The Padres have had two shots at a World Series ring, to no avail. Their first one came in 1984 against the Tigers. The series was at one point tied 1-1 but the Tigers were too much. Then the Friars ran into the buzzsaw that was the 1998 New York Yankees and were swept in that Fall Classic.
Deceased, Universally Beloved All-Time Greats
Both franchises have all-time greats that are beloved throughout their respective sports even outside of San Diego that have passed on suddenly. For the Chargers, it is Junior Seau. Number 55 played 13 seasons with the Chargers as a linebacker. He racked up 1,286 tackles, 47 sacks and 15 interceptions as a Charger on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year posthumously. He also went to 12 Pro Bowls and was voted 1st Team All-Pro 6 times. He sadly committed suicide in 2012. He still is considered the standard for linebackers in the NFL.
Tony Gwynn is not only “Mr. Padre” but he is also “Mr. San Diego.” He played all 20 seasons of his career with the Padres, who drafted him in 1981. He accumulated 3,141 hits along with a .338 lifetime average. He also won 5 Gold Gloves and went to 15 All-Star games. He was the king of his craft. He hit .415 against fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in 107 plate appearances. He would be voted to Cooperstown in 2007. He passed away suddenly from salivary gland cancer in 2014.
The city of San Diego has lost two immortal legends way, way too soon.