The Morning Report
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Visit Petco Park on any given day in the calendar year, and enjoy sweeping views of San Diego’s beautiful downtown ballpark, San Diego’s beautiful downtown, and from the proper angle, the Pacific Ocean.

A similar visit, during the third week of September 2007? Now that’s something else entirely.

And there are few times better for seven consecutive victories, and sweeps of the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates than the third week of September. Sure, the fourth week of September is a better time, but with the Padres on the road against the Giants and Brewers, you won’t get quite the same view, even if they do sweep.

But look, before we go any further, let me be emphatic about something. The way the Pads are playing right now, and not just the seven straight wins, but the manner in which they are unfolding; this is how you win pennant races. This is how you win championships. This is exactly how you win championships.

That Scott Hairston ninth inning blast on Wednesday? That’s it exactly. Exactly. There’s no more perfect an example. Clubs in the midst of championship runs get those kinds of contributions while en route. Period, exclamation point.

The idea that Hairston is a mid-season acquisition, filling in for another mid-season acquisition, and a man at nearly 10 times his pay grade, makes the result all the more telling.

In a more general sense, when a team has a high-priced free agent infielder struggle and miss time to injury, but can go to a backup like Geoff Blum, a bona fide World Series hero, to pick up the slack, that’s no coincidence. That’s what happens en route to a championship.

And don’t get me started on Brett Tomko. I have no explanation for Brett Tomko, and I’m guessing, the Padres brass doesn’t either. But they’ll gladly take those two decisions and not look back for a second. Whatever the reason behind Tomko’s turnaround, like I said, this is how you win championships.

Of course, you also win championships with career years from important players who were headed in that direction prior to the season. Khalil Greene and Jake Peavy (that’s in alphabetical order, by the way) are those two players. Like duh.

There are plenty of other reasons why the team is where it is at this exact point in time, and almost all of them positive. We’ll detail the rest later. One hundred and fifty-two games do not a season make.

But forget what some are saying about sweeps being required. They’re not. It’s one game at a time, one series at a time. Take care of business, and you’re in the playoffs.

— HOWARD COLE

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