The Los Angeles Dodgers are doing a good job of making the Padres look good this year by occupying the cellar of the National League West, but make no mistake: The Padres are awful.
Far be it for us to turn down a $15.99 ticket -- the lowest average price in the league -- on a sun-drenched San Diego day, but the Padres have a nasty habit of ruining days like that. Management let players such as Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, slugger Adrian Gonzalez and closer Heath Bell walk without putting up much of a fight. Even a switch in ownership last year didn't exactly go as planned, as former owners John Moores and Jeff Moorad took a $200 million portion of the Padres' new TV deal with them. Rumors have swirled that the Padres are broke, but the new ownership group denies it despite making no offseason acquisitions.
Not surprisingly, even after moving in the fences for its hitters, the team finds itself in a familiar position in 2013: Under .500 until a recent six-game winning streak put them at .507 and just close enough to first place to toy with fans' emotions. Instead of staring blankly at the Western Metal Supply facade just beyond left field, however, Padres fans find consolation in shrimp tacos and Sonora dogs.
With apologies to Randy Jones' barbecue, Petco's best offerings originate south of the border. San Diego restaurant Rubio's brought its shrimp and fish tacos up from Baja nearly 30 years ago and loads them up with cabbage, salsa and garlic sauce. The ballpark versions are pricier, but no less perfect. If you're craving something a bit meatier, a Sonoran hot dog comes wrapped in bacon and jammed with onions, tomatoes and pinto beans. It's all served on a potato bun, then topped with mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and jalapeno sauce.
Its beer list, meanwhile, reads like a who's who of California craft brewers. Hometown Stone Brewing is there, as is, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, AleSmith, Pyramid, Anderson Valley, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, and Knee Deep. Even if the home-run steam whistle hasn't sounded in a while, that slate offers plenty of good reasons to toast.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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