Tony Gwynn died of cancer on Monday.
He struck out 434 times in his career. As a 41 year old on the 2001 Padres, well past his prime, getting 112 PAs in 71 games, he struck out 9 times. Miguel Cabrera struck out 98 times in 2012, the year he won the Triple Crown. Only 19 guys in the last decade have had an individual season with an average higher than Mr. Padre's .338 lifetime mark. An anecdote that made the rounds this week told of how Greg Maddux said the key to his success was changing speeds. Hitters, he said, can't tell the difference in speed, leaving them helpless. "Except," Maddux said, "for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn."
Yet it isn't these numbers that led to a spontaneous outpouring of love from the denizens of San Diego following his passing. It was the way he treated the people around him, from the bat boys, to the kids he coached at SDSU, to a then unknown local sports anchor. In an era of self important prima donnas, Tony Gwynn was a true rarity: a truly humble human being who always looked for ways to give back to those around him.
The Padres staged one the classiest tributes in recent memory to their fallen hero. The photo above shows right field in the first home game following Gwynn's death. Before the game, the entire team gathered around the number 19 in a moment of silence. In the left of the photo, you can see the retired numbers above the batters eye. As the sun set, a spotlight on #19 left it bright as the other numbers appeared grey and faded. In the best tribute possible, the Padres won the game on pitcher's pitch slapped into center for a run-scoring single.
RIP, Mr. Padre
- Let's start off with an odd one: the Athletics acquired LHP Brad Mills from the Brewers for $1. Mills expected to move into Oakland's starting rotation. Mills last pitched in the majors with the Angels in 2012. So far this season, he has been excellent for Nashville with an 8-2 record and 1.56 ERA.
- Grady Sizemore was DFA'd by the Red Sox today after hitting only .216/.288/.324 in 52 games with Boston this season. Sizemore was signed to a $750,000 contract over the winter in an attempt to come back from injuries which derailed his once promising career. Reports later in the week had several teams interested in bringing him in.
- White Sox phenom Jose Abreu hit his 20th home run of the year in his 58th game. Among all-time MLB rookies, only Wally Berger (51) and Mark McGwire (56) hit their 20th home run earlier.
- The Dodgers Clayton Kershaw pitched the best game since Kerry Wood's 20K masterpiece in 1998 and may, in fact, have done him one better. Kershaw struck out 15 on the way to a no hitter. The only baserunner was an error on shortstop Hanley Ramirez that almost certainly should have been an out.
- Replay controversy in Pittsburgh. With the bases loaded, Cincinnati's Alfredo Simon hit a swinging bunt to Pirates pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. Pimentel threw to catcher Russell Martin, forcing out Devin Mesoraco. Open and shut, right? Nope -- the call was appealed and the office in New York called Mesoraco safe because Russell was blocking the plate. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was then ejected for arguing a replay result. He immediately called vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre, who later admitted that the office in New York blew the call.
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