The 1998 San Diego Padres were a team that brought much joy to the city of San Diego. Their success came at the right time, as the city was in the midst of a battle over a potential new ballpark for the Padres. Keep the Faith was the slogan given to the fans by Larry Luchino and team executives.
The Padres had brief appearance in the 2006 playoffs, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. The Padres organization saw how energized the city of San Diego became after that 1996 playoffs. A city that had only been in the playoffs in 1984 and 1996 was starved for playoff baseball. The city was to Keep The Faith, and that’s exactly what Padres fans did. The team rewarded the Padres fans with a magical season full of ups and downs.
The 1997 season saw the Padres actually finish last in the National League West. Their 76-86 record put them 14 games behind the San Francisco Giants. The team wasn’t horrible but it was missing something. On December 15th, 1997 Kevin Brown was acquired from the Florida Marlins for Derrek Lee, Rafael Medina and Steve Hoff.
Kevin Brown was a legitimate ace and an absolute work horse. He had just helped guide the 1997 Marlins to a World Series Championship, and was shockingly available. Padres GM Kevin Towers jumped at the opportunity and parted with can’t miss prospect Derek Lee. It proved to be a great move for the short-term, but horrible in the long-term. Lee ended up being a 2-time All-Star, Batting Title winner (2005) and 3-time gold glove recipient at first base. He also help guide the 2003 Marlins to a World Series title. Still, the 1 year of Kevin Brown was probably worth it.
The type of swagger and expectation to win is what Brown brought to the Padres. Very similar to what James Shields bring to the current Padres team. Brown in the right situation, was a perfect leader for a team eager to find an identity. He provided that for a pitching staff that needed a boost. With Kevin Brown on the mound, the Padres players expected to win the game. That in itself is a rare thing. Only ace pitchers bring that to the team, and there are only a handful of ace pitchers each season.