Even by the criminally low standards set through the notoriously awful history of San Diego sports, 2015 was a banner year. The lows so epically outnumbered (and outweighed) the highs, it almost seems depressing to do a story recapping the year.
So take a walk with me down amnesia lane as we remember the Pros and Cons of San Diego Sports, 2015 Edition, starting with the good stuff:
The Gulls returned! Pro hockey and San Diego were meant for one another. The American Hockey League came to our town with a really good product featuring the top prospects in the Anaheim Ducks organization and fans have flocked (pun intended) to the Valley View Casino Center to watch. Plus rarely will you see an organization spend as much time or be as good in the community as the Gulls. Overall they’ve been a blessing in a year full of garbage.
Matt Kemp hit for the cycle! You probably have the day memorized … August 14, Coors Field, Denver, CO. Kemp had a single, double, triple and home run in one game to give the Padres their first cycle in franchise history, ending years of jokes about how the Friars don’t have a cycle or a no-hitter. Now the jokes are centered on the no-hitter.
The Aztecs won a NCAA Tournament game! SDSU beat St. John’s in the first round before running in to Duke, the eventual national champions. It also comes off the heels of winning yet another regular season Mountain West Conference championship.
The Aztecs won 10 straight football games! The last time the Aztecs won 11 games in a season was in 1969 when a certain coach named Don Coryell was in charge. Rocky Long’s guys overcame a slow start to win the MWC title and demolish Cincinnati 42-7 in the Hawaii Bowl.
[G] Sweetwater Valley Little League All-Stars in Williamsport
Sweetwater Valley LL goes to Williamsport! We had yet another local team reach the Little League World Series, setting offensive records along the way.
Junior Seau was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame! One of the most emotional nights of the year for San Diego sports fans as our favorite son took his rightful place among football’s immortals. Junior’s family did a wonderful job representing him in Canton and showing his legacy lives on through his children.
Class of 2015 Professional Football Hall of Fame Induction Weekend
Philip Rivers threw for 503 yards at Lambeau Field! Only 18 times in history has an NFL quarterback thrown for 500-plus yards in a single game. Rivers did it at the most historic venue in the league. Alas, like everything else this season with the Chargers, that ended with a loss, giving us a nice transition to …
Everything associated with the Chargers except that 500-yard game: Yup, this includes their truly horrible record, the fact their first round pick (running back Melvin Gordon, who they traded up to get) that was supposed to free up the offense had more touches without scoring a TD than any other player in the NFL, the season-ending injury to Keenan Allen who was on a pace to set NFL records with Rivers, injuries to pretty much everyone else, the 4-game drug suspension for Antonio Gates, the contentious media sessions with Mike McCoy, the free agent signings that did not work, the fact they celebrated the retirement of LaDainian Tomlinson’s #21 by not scoring a single touchdown for the man who scored more touchdowns than anyone else in franchise history, the entire ugly stadium saga, the silence during the ordeal from Chargers CEO Dean Spanos, and every time Mark Fabiani opened his mouth.
The Padres give us hope then yank the rug out from under us: Such hope. Such excitement. Such a letdown. Padres General Manager A.J. Preller gets points for trying and for those few months leading up to Spring Training the Friars fan base was more energized than it’s been in years. Starting 10-5 just sent the hype to a fever pitch. Then they hit a bad stretch that lasted until October, firing Bud Black along the way, replacing him with Pat Murphy (who was simply in over his head) and losing plenty of guys to injury along the way.
The Sockers hit a rare rough patch: After being nothing short of dominant in their reincarnation the Sockers finally lost their first playoff game at home to get knocked out of the 2014-15 post-season. Their 2015-16 year got off to a non-Sockers-esque start with four losses in eight games after losing four matches all the previous regular season.
Jimmie Johnson has trouble at Dover: The El Cajon native was right in the thick of another NASCAR championship run when the series arrived at Dover international Speedway. Johnson has 10 wins at the Monster Mile, more than any other driver has at any other track in history. So of course he had mechanical problems with the #48 Lowe’s Chevy, finished 41st and was eliminated from title contention. It’s what happened to San Diego sports in 2015!
Phil Mickelson goes winless: For the first time in his career Mickelson, the most successful golfer ever to come out of San Diego, has gone winless in two straight seasons. He finished 2nd at the Masters but missed the cut at his home town tournament (the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines) and his old collegiate haunt (the former ASU star only got in two rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale).
While the pros may outnumber the cons, the cons certainly outweigh the pros. This has been a rough year for the San Diego sports scene. However, things can turn around in 2016. But that’s a story for another day.