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Will this MLB postseason, World Series champ come with an asterisk?
Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Reporters discuss the future of the MLB
SAN DIEGO – Get ready, America.
You want entertainment? You want sheer, unadulterated emotion? You want flash? You want cool? You want the wildest, bat-flipping-est and charismatic team in baseball?
Here comes the San Diego Padres – the archenemy of baseball tradition.
The Padres, winners of their first postseason series since 1998 with a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, are about to be introduced to a much wider audience, playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.
The Padres got here in the most eccentric way, using nine different pitchers to shut out the Cardinals, with their starting rotation lasting a grand total of only six innings in the three-game series – with the bullpen covering the remaining 21 innings.
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The Padres became the first team in postseason history to use at least eight pitchers in three consecutive games, and able to laugh about it.
Hey, they’re not about to apologize. If you don’t like their brashness, emotion, and those wild bat flips into the sky, feel free to change the channel.
“Nobody’s showing anybody up,’’ Padres manager Jayce Tingler said before Friday’s Game 3. “It’s energy. It’s raw. It’s real. They’re playing the game, and they’re firing up their teammates.
“We play the game right. Play it with energy. Have a ton of fun. Play it with passion. These are all plus-plus qualities in the game. We value those things. That’s great. We want people to be themselves. That’s where we’re at.
“Whatever people say, we’re going to have critics. That’s fine. We’re pretty comfortable with who we are.’’
The Padres aren’t about to apologize for anything, and fear no one, and are taking the bravado now to the heart of Texas where they will play the Dodgers, their version of the Evil Empire, in the NL Division Series.
And the Padres may be arriving with reinforcements – with ace Mike Clevinger (right elbow impingement) and starter Dinelson Lamet (right biceps tightness) perhaps joining the playoff roster after the Cardinals series.
“They both had positive days,’’ Tingler said. “We need to stack a couple more positive days. Its really is pointless to predict or get into it.’’
The Cardinals, who had to play 53 games in 44 days to end the season after a COVID-19 outbreak, could only helplessly watch, perhaps even a bit envious of their energy, bat flips and all.
“Look, that’s not how necessarily I am personally,’’ Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter said ahead of Game 3, “but I have no issue with it in the game. If you’re a good players player, and you celebrate on the field, and if that’s what people want to see and watch, more power to you.
“I think the celebrations in the game of baseball, that’s just part of it now.”
Even Padres veteran Mitch Moreland, who was on that Texas Rangers’ team that went ballistic when Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista wildly flipped his bat in the 2015 American League playoffs, says he has come to understand this new way of celebrating.
“It’s just a different game now,” Moreland said. “It’s a new time. I don’t know if you’ll ever see me flip one like that. But it’s just different now. It’s a different type of entertainment. It seems like it’s happening more and more all around the league. It’s just the new baseball.’’
A flamboyant style that these Padres are making famous.