Padres vs. Dodgers

I need more.

Jim Rome
April 26, 2021 - 10:30 am
Fernando Tatis Jr

USA Today

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How ya livin? How was your weekend? Good?  Great? The best weekend ever? I hope it was. But even if it was your weekend of a lifetime, I guarantee it still wasn’t half as awesome as Fernando Tats Jr’s was.

The Padres and Dodgers have played seven games this season. And I’ve seen all I need to see to know I don’t want just 19 of these games. I need more. In fact, why don’t we just tell everyone else in major league baseball, y’all can do whatever the hell you want to do, because we all just want to see the Dodgers and Padres beat the crap out of each other 162 times? Just wipe the schedule and let these two give each other the hands for 162. Let these two, rake, cheat, allegedly hit bombs, style em and talk bleep to each other on the field and then on social media. Every single night. Do that. And I’m good.

The other 28 teams in baseball can play amongst themselves and leave the big DOGS to just drive back and forth on the 5 beating the crap out of each other.

Because right now in baseball, for HEAT AND JUICE, it’s Padres-Dodgers and everyone else. In fact, right now, in team sports, its Padres-Dodgers and everyone else. Nobody else is close.

I MEAN, This rivalry is so good, it could single-handedly make baseball relevant. That rivalry alone could save this sport. Don’t believe me? Check the first series of the year, which had extra innings, benches being cleared, “bull-bleep swings,” an incredible game-winning catch, and plenty of junk talking.

There’s no way the rematch could be as good. And then it was. And that was pretty much all due to ONE DUDE. ONE FREAK OF NATURE: Fernando Tats Jr.

El Nino touched down in Dodger Stadium and lit up the place. On Friday, he came up in the top of the third in a tie game. And he broke that tie in a hurry.

One pitch. Bomb. He saw that 90 mile per hour fastball and turned it around at 113.4 miles per hour.

And then he did it again in the fifth and I’m not sure what was better – the blast or the trip around the bases.

Having an exit velocity of 115.9 is great. Taking a trip around the bases that could be timed with a sundial is even better. There have been guys who stutter-stepped during home run trots, but I can’t remember the last time someone did a stutter-step that was practically rocking back and nearly taking a few steps backwards before rounding third.  That’s practically some Jeffrey Leonard, flap down, bleep right there. 

Two homers in the same game and he did it on the 22nd anniversary of Fernando Tats Sr. going absolute legend with a pair of grand slams in the same inning off Chan Ho Park. El Nino didn’t quite out-do Pops on Friday, but it was damn good.

And if that’s all he did during the series, it would’ve been incredible. But it wasn’t. Because on Saturday, he came back and was even better, in terms of action and spice.

Because Saturday, he led off the game against Trevor Bauer. He took a strike and then on the second pitch, he homered.

Again, the home run was great, BUT, the trip around the bases was even better. Because on his way to second base, he turned back to the Padres dugout and covered his eye, mocking Bauer pitching to the Padres with one eye closed in spring training.

And then he led off the top of the sixth against Bauer and this time, both guys battled. Tats fell behind 0-1, 1-2, and then got to a full count. He fouled off the next pitch to stay alive. And then went yard again.

And this time, he broke out the Conor McGregor’s Billionaire Strut after he crossed home plate. Hell. Yes. That is the best. The absolute best.

Normally, a guy does something like that, the opposing pitcher gets a red ass and the next batter is wearing a fastball and eating through a straw. But not Bauer. He says he actually likes it.

"I like it. I think that pitchers who have that done to them and react by throwing at people, or getting upset and hitting people or whatever -- I think it's pretty soft. If you give up a homer, the guy should celebrate it. It's hard to hit in the big leagues.

"So, I'm all for it. And I think it's important that the game moves in that direction, and we stop throwing at people because they celebrated having some success on the field."

That is the totally right take. Throwing at someone because you screwed up and gave up a home run isn’t tough, it’s soft. It’s the opposite of tough. Its horse bleep.

Hitting a home run IS hard, guys should get fired up. And Tats was. As he said after the game, it was “Payback time.”

He also said: "It's just fun. When you know you're facing a guy like that -- he's doing his stuff, he's having fun on the mound, and when you get him you get him, and you celebrate, too. He's a hard guy to deal with."

And then they took the heat to Twitter. Because Bauer retweeted a video posted by someone of Tats at the at-bat with the caption: am I crazy or like... Did Fernando Tats Jr. know what was coming?? Let me know!

Bauer’s message with that video was: If you need to know what pitch is coming that badly, just ask daddy nicely next time. You know I ain’t scared homie.

And there was no way that Tats wasn’t going to respond to that. And he did. With a photoshop of him holding a baby with Trevor Bauer’s face and the caption: “Tranquilo hijo” or “calm down, son.”

Again, I cannot stress how this awesome this all is: Two great teams, who clearly don’t like each other, battling their asses off on the field, talking junk during games, and after it, and mocking each other on twitter. This is the absolute best. The best possible thing that could happen to baseball. 

That’s why I’m saying this should just be a freeway series from now until the end of the season. Scrap the rest of the games and just keep running this back. And this is not over, because before yesterday’s game, Dave Roberts talked about the notion of Tats peeking.

“When you talk about peeking, that’s just not the way you play baseball. If that is the case, which I don’t know, that’ll be noted.”

And he’s not talking about having his catchers change their signs. And Bauer wasn’t thrilled about that either.

“That’s the type of stuff that would get you hit in other games. Now, I’m mild-mannered about it…flip the bat, do all that stuff, fine. If you’re gonna look at the signs, not OK, and if you do it again, the team that you’re playing probably isn’t gonna take too kindly to it, and there might have to be some on-field stuff.”

And I know what they’re saying. For the most part, I’m so over baseball’s code. But in this case, I’ll acknowledge. In this case the code says, if you can pick signs, fine; but there’s a right way of doing it and a wrong way: an accepted way and a way that might have you wearing one. And peeking back to look at the catcher is the wrong way. And if they catch you doing it, those baseball vigilantes will take matters into their own hands. All-time great guy Dave Roberts, pretty much said as much.

I’m not a fan of guys settling things by throwing a hard rock at each other in triple digits, so I’m not going to sign off on any of that. But I am going to stress, that I need this series to continue on a daily basis.

Because the Sunday finale might have been even better than the three that came before it. LA jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then guess who came up in the top of the fourth.

Five home runs in three games. The first visiting player in MLB history to homer five times in three games at Dodger Stadium. But it seemed like it really wasn’t going to matter as the Padres fell behind 7-1.

I’m not going to say the game was over, but given that teams that entered the seventh inning down by six runs had a record of 100 wins and 13,547 losses over the last 50 years, the game was over. Pretty hard to get jacked up about a .007 winning percentage in situations like that, especially against the defending champs.

But the Padres scored two in the seventh, two in the eight, and two in the ninth to tie it. And then in the 11th, guess who would start the inning on second base and steal third? El Nino.

And then the Kid came home with the go-ahead run on a sac fly.

From down 7-1 to winning 8-7. That is one hell of a comeback for the Padres. As Eric Hosmer said, that wasn’t just a win, that was something else.  

"I think we certainly made a statement. The whole baseball world was watching these games, and I think we showed we can compete with these guys. We respect who they are, we respect what they've done, but we're certainly not going to back down from them."

You’re damn right that was a statement win. Coming back from the dead like that is massive. And doing it in that situation is even bigger.

I know it’s April, but they had to have that. If you’re going to be serious about competing with the Dodgers, you can’t win the first two games of the series and then drop the last two. And you can’t watch them go to 10 games over .500 while you drop to .500. It’s April, but you cannot let that happen. San Diego had to have it and they got it.

And while it’s only April, I will say this again, there is nothing better in this sport than dodgers v. Padres.  There may not be anything better in any sport right now.  And I need more of this, because I cannot get enough of it.