The Padres aim for the promised land, with a Solana Beach resident privy to what might be on the horizon.
Or, better put, what might not be included in the month to come.
“These things happen in competitive sports,” Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Black, a longtime North County local, was the Padres’ skipper in 2007 when the wheels fell from a potential playoff ride. It wasn’t so much that the Padres spit the bit as much as it was the Rockies winning 21 of their final 22 games to edge Black’s men.
“It was a great race,” Black told reporters recently during a series against the Padres. “But a couple things didn’t go our way at the end.”
The Padres lost outfielders Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley. The latter was waylaid when Black was attempting to impede Bradley’s path to an umpire after a close call and Bradley wrenched his knee.
“But we still felt we had what it took,” Black said of the Padres’ quest to make the playoffs for the third straight year. “We had Jake (Peavy), who was on his way to the Cy Young Award, and some good, veteran players.”
The current Padres have an exciting team — even minus first baseman Eric Hosmer (broken finger) — as they remain close to the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, managed by Cardiff’s Dave Roberts.
The Padres seem assured of a spot in the expanded playoffs, their first since 2006.
But anything can happen, and Black knows first-hand — and that goes in both directions.
“If you are close in September, and a couple of things go your way, a break here, a break there, it can spur you toward a championship,” he said.
Black has two World Series title rings, one as a crafty lefty for the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the other as the then-Anaheim Angels’ pitching coach in 2002.
Guess those champagne-soaked moments ease the pain of 2007, his first year with the Padres?
“I’ve relived that numerous times over the past 13 seasons,” Black said.
Black was the pilot when the Padres were supposed to take 2015 by the collar, after rookie general manager A.J. Preller acquired players blessed with solid statistics on the back of their baseball cards.
That veteran squad laid an egg and Black was shown the door as the fall guy.
Preller, of Encinitas, was busy again at this year’s trading deadline, which didn’t surprise the guy he fired.
“He’s not afraid to go out there and be creative and make a deal,” Black said. “It’s in his DNA.”
The Padres were A-OK before Preller’s swapping. In its aftermath, Black tips his cap to his old boss’ haul.
“From my chair, the Padres got better,” Black said. “Those are great additions.
“(Mike) Clevinger is a legit, front-line starter. (Closer) Trevor Rosenthal is having a big year. And the two catchers they got, Jason Castro and Austin Nola, are pros.”
There are cons to anticipating a World Series crown. Black said just reach the playoffs by any means for a payoff which could be memorable.
“The Nationals barely got in last year and they looked like they were about to be eliminated by the Brewers,” Black said. “And they went on to win the World Series.”
The Rockies are fighting for their third playoff appearance in four years under Black. He’s well-versed in fall’s celebrations and its humbling finishes.