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New Padres manager Mike Shildt led the Cardinals to the playoffs in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Courtesy photo
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Padres, Aztecs have new leaders and work to do

Good leaders are in short supply and isn’t that an understatement.

But just maybe, two San Diego teams were perfect in picking a pair of men to front their programs.

Then again, the test of time is just that and while fingers are crossed, no one really knows.

What’s clear is Mike Shildt will run the Padres and Sean Lewis will pace San Diego State football.

Shildt takes over a Padres bunch that won 82 games last year, but not the hearts of their most ardent fans. Baseball is a grind and the Padres weren’t up to the day-to-day commitment that separates the pretenders from the contenders.

Sean Lewis had a rocky stint as offensive coordinator at Colorado this past season. Courtesy photo

The Padres finished strong while feasting on inferior rosters, with September being their best month of the demanding season. But it wasn’t sufficient to slap lipstick on six months that will long be remembered for disappointment and a disconcerting discourse between the front office and manager Bob Melvin, which cost him his job.

Many think this will be A.J. Preller’s last stab at selecting the right guy.

True, that was written after the Padres’ general manager, an Encinitas resident, failed when bringing in Pat Murphy, Andy Green, Jayce Tingler and Melvin.

But the merry-go-round starts anew with Shildt and he certainly has the credentials.

So did Melvin, a three-time manager of the year who blended with Preller as water embraces oil. These two strong-willed, baseball-lifers seldom were on the same page, and in some instances, not even reading a duplicate book.

Shildt, who directed the St. Louis Cardinals to three playoff appearances in his four years on the top step there, oversees a roster loaded with talent, but not tenacity.

After beloved Padres owner Peter Seilder’s passing, maybe some of his attributes — being positive, tackling big endeavors and possessing an unrelenting passion for a championship parade in San Diego — will be embraced by those between the lines.

It’s up to Shildt to ensure that stuff doesn’t hit the fan when the predictable challenging times arrive.

Lewis has a taller task and that’s a mouthful. But a football program that once jammed massive then-San Diego Stadium with fans has drawn crickets at cozy Snapdragon Stadium.

The Aztecs hit the trifecta last season that no team wants. SDSU didn’t win, presented a boring offense better suited for the days of leather helmets and its tickets were overpriced.

It’s up to Lewis to pull a rabbit out of the hat or it’s possible he’s the last person to coach football on Montezuma Mesa.

In the fast-changing landscape of college football, it’s easy to get left behind and not unthinkable to speculate that the future of the program is at stake.

While SDSU officials won’t say Brady Hoke was pushed out the door, at least they shoved it open for him. A change was needed, in a big way, and the Aztecs are all-in on Lewis, who talks as fast as his offense operates.

That he was Colorado’s offensive coordinator but stripped of his play-calling duties midseason isn’t mentioned often, which hardly buffs a resume that many aren’t impressed with.

Hopefully, both gentlemen are the tonic for teams with potential to excite their fan bases with more than smoke and mirrors. In reflection and on the surface, they were the right selections.

But it’s a mistake to think these resurrections are a slam dunk, noting the mitigating circumstances standing in each of their ways.

The Padres lost 600 innings pitched to free agency, including their closer, and are slashing payroll with gusto, which will likely cost them superstar Juan Soto.

The Aztecs don’t have a reliable quarterback on scholarship and yes, Lewis needs to deliver his first trick by enticing Danny O’Neil to come west. The prep star from Indianapolis took a checkered flag on Colorado once Lewis bolted.

Good leaders shrug at obstacles and these two will be tested. How they react will reveal if Preller and SDSU athletic director J.D. Wicker were keen with their due diligence.

Fight on?

Lead on is more appropriate and that’s what’s being asked from Shildt and Lewis.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] and follow him @jparis_sports

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