This is the way it works in the Padres’ clubhouse after Padres closer Trevor Hoffman pitches.
If he blows a save, you’ll find him standing forthright in front of his locker waiting to answer questions and invariably accept responsibility.
If he adds to his Major League Baseball record total of career saves, you might have to wait a little while n but not as long as some players force the media to hang around their locker n until he emerges from the trainer’s room with ice taped around his shoulder.
In other words, it’s more important for him to accept responsibility or deflect blame directed at teammates than it is for him to hear praise.
What more could a baseball fan want? In some factions of the Padres’ nation, they unrealistically want perfection from Hoffman.
Usually, when we see the ugly side of San Diego sports, it can be blame on East Coasts transplants behaving the way fans do in Boston, New York and Philadelpha instead of adapting to the San Diego weather and sports climate.
I can’t think of a San Diego sports icon that has heard more unwarranted criticism than Hoffman.
Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts twice threw five interceptions in playoff losses — Dec. 29, 1979 in a 17-14 loss to the Houston Oilers and Jan.
16, 1983 in a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Do you think anybody was hesitant to send Fouts back out on the field?
Maybe it’s because Hoffman isn’t an overpowering pitcher that he draws so much inexplicable criticism. He beats people with placement and changeups.
When Hoffman saved Thursday afternoon’s game against the Houston Astros with three outs on eight pitches, he didn’t fire back at his critics.
“I’d like to see us get on a roll for 10 games so I don’t have to talk to you guys,” said Hoffman, who really meant the call-in critics given air time on sports talk radio.
That was a rare sardonic comment from Hoffman. It suggests the critics calling into sports talk radio are starting to gnaw at him.
But after all he’s done for this franchise, he shouldn’t have to hear any of it. Padres owner John Moores saved the franchise when he bought it in 1994, but he may not have been able to save it in the city, with a new downtown ballpark, without Hoffman.
Manager Buddy Black and general manager Kevin Towers aren’t concerned. They say his velocity is still there.
In Hoffman’s two loses this year, he’s hurt himself with walks that turned into winning runs. He didn’t lose games with balls being banged around the park. In Sunday’s defeat, he lost on a walk, a tapper to the mound that advanced the runner and a single.
Remember how quickly the Padres dumped David Wells last year? He had pitched effectively early in the year before teams started banging the ball all over the park. The Padres let him go because they felt he lost his velocity and placement and batters were teeing off on him.
If Black and Towers aren’t alarmed, there is no reason for Hoffman’s critics’ to be foolishly complaining about him on sports talk radio.
— TOM SHANAHAN