The San Diego Padres’ magical 2022 season came to a disappointing end, as the Philadelphia Phillies erased an eighth inning deficit in Sunday’s Game 5 with a two-run Bryce Harper home run off Robert Suarez while shutdown closer Josh Hader sat in the bullpen.
Losing after getting a sniff of the World Series is an awful way for a season to end, but the Padres will (hopefully) look back on 2022 as a success when the wound heals.
We’re not normally in the business of handing out moral victories, but there’s something to be said that they made the playoffs for the first time in a 162-game season since 2006 and knocked out at an all-time great (regular season) Dodgers team in the NLDS after Los Angeles had their number all season.
This also marked San Diego’s first NLCS appearance since 1998, so the Padres have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.
Players and coaches certainly don’t feel that way right now, but Padres fans are a different story. Though the loss stings, San Diego diehards were out in full force at Petco Park before the crack of dawn waiting to welcome the Padres back from Philadelphia.
The reception the club received is simply incredible.
Padres given incredible reception by fans after they returned to San Diego from Philadelphia after losing the NLCS.
How many other fan bases do this? Seriously. You think Yankees fans would pack the Bronx to the brim if New York dropped the ALCS in Houston? Obviously not. They would rather boo future MVP Aaron Judge after a historic regular season and leave Yankee Stadium early after the Astros rallied for a late lead.
That’s just one example.
Padres fans created a raucous atmosphere at Petco Park throughout the postseason. You’d have to conduct a thorough search of the stadium to locate a fan who wasn’t standing and going ballistic for all 27 outs. And how about those watch parties at Petco Park after the series shifted to Philadelphia?
Incredibly, though, the fan base had just enough leftover energy to give the club a deserved welcome home reception.
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed, either. Manny Machado, maybe the team’s most consistent postseason performer, gave fans their own standing ovation and they responded by serenading him with “MVP” chants.
Over 12 games in October, Machado led the Padres with a .271 batting average, 13 hits, four home runs, seven RBI, a .910 OPS and .583 SLG, so the “MVP” chants fit like a glove.
It was a representative postseason for Machado, though the entire club — players, coaches, trainers and all — deserved a warm reception after their playoff run ended. The same can be said for every team who comes up short in the playoffs, but not every fan base would come through like this.
Just goes to show that Padres fans are a different level of committed.