Padres baseball is more fun than imagined

Wil Nieves

Whew. You have to catch your breath, too?

One week into the Padres season and it’s already been a sensory overload. New team, new offense, new scoreboard and a new way to look at things when eyeing the local nine.

What the first seven games revealed is that the Padres won’t retreat. They have the goods to go with the swagger and seldom has there been more fun at Petco Park.

The four-game, weekend series with the Giants was gigantic and each day’s crowd of 40,000-plus proved it. Extra-inning affairs, pitching duels, a 20-hit explosion and a grand slam by a Wil not named Myers, Venable, Middlebrooks or Ferrell!

That all came on the heels of three sweat-producing outings against the Dodgers. Now here come the Diamondbacks and we welcome the Zonies, albeit they arrive a bit early to escape the desert heat.

Ever hear Arizona Senator John McCain’s great line as why he spends his summers on Coronado? “So I can be with my constituents,” he said …

Nice to see Rancho Santa Fe’s Phil Mickelson make a Masters run at Jordan Spieth — so to speak.

Spieth was never really threatened, although there are no sure bets on Sunday’s back 9 of the Masters and somewhere Greg Norman is nodding his head. But as cool as it was watching Lefty tie for second, Poway’s Charley Hoffman was also on the Augusta National radar. The two played together Sunday, putting San Diego’s best on display for the golfing world.

Mickelson’s 3-under-par 69, which left him four strokes behind Spieth, was a joy.

Hoffman’s 2-over 74 put him 10 behind Spieth and was good for a tie for ninth. But in only his second Masters, Hoffman had his best showing in a major. And by finishing in the top 15, he punched his return ticket to next year’s Masters.

Maybe the biggest beneficiary of Hoffman’s Georgia trek was his charity. When warming up on Thursday, Hoffman came across honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Proving he didn’t go Samson when cutting his noted mullet, Hoffman had the power and gumption to ask all three to sign a Masters pin flag. That’ll bring some big bucks to Hoffman’s big-hearted, Charley Hoffman Foundation. …

Speaking of the Masters, it’s always informing to hear former pro and Encinitas’ Dennis Paulson’s work for Sirius Radio. His son, Dillon, is a serious baseball prospect and is proving it with a stellar season at Santa Fe Christian. The younger Paulson is USC-bound, if he stiff-arms what will likely be a high draft position. …

So San Diego State vs. University of San Diego in hoops at Petco? Kudos to Padres owner Ron Fowler, the Sultan of Suds, for insisting the Aztecs play the Toreros. We toast keeping this city rivalry alive, despite many trying to throw cold water on it.

Regarding the players’ outside shots — beware of the toughest defender in Petco: the marine layer!…

The Padres’ James Shields was more proud of his base knock that throwing seven scoreless innings in beating the Giants on Saturday. He had some help with his hitting in the offseason, as La Costa Canyon coach Justin Machado threw him batting practice.

“But I made him square around because I knew he would be bunting,” Machado said. “But he never wanted to bunt. Finally I said, ‘I’m not throwing the pitch until you square around.”

Shields got the last laugh with his sharp single to right. And right on to Pads skipper Bud Black for giving Machado his due in the post-game press conference.

Although Black was just as pumped about iconic surfer Rob Machado, Justin’s brother, being among those throwing out the first pitch on Friday. At least this Machado didn’t insist someone show bunt before delivering his offering. ..

With baseball in full swing, did you miss the mud-slinging regarding the Chargers stadium soap opera? Me, neither. But one of the NFL’s big shots, Eric Grubman, rolls into town on Tuesday for an update.

Let the posturing begin! …

Chargers coach Mike McCoy was at a Padres game last week, with his son wearing a Padres jersey with “McCoy” on the back. But in the long entrance line, not one person came over and acknowledged the coach. Not sure what that says about McCoy other than heading into his third season in San Diego, he still doesn’t have a connection with the fans.

+ Contact staff writer Jay Paris at



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