The San Diego Chargers face the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon in their opening playoff game, taking their shot at the Super Bowl. On paper, the Chargers look good and are favored to win this game. The Charges are a well-balanced team with LaDainian Tomlinson leading the team.
Around town, Charger paraphernalia is everywhere: on our front porches, waving from our car antennas, on every other T-shirt. And all across San Diego radio and television stations, Charger victory is the word that’s getting around. This is what a successful sports team does for a city. It pulls it together, not just the City of San Diego but all the cities in the County, from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. It instills pride and makes us all feel good to be part of a winning team. We are all Chargers!
Then, there is Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, who was selected this week to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor in baseball, and it immortalizes the individual.
Tony Gwynn had the sweetest of swings, and he revolutionized the way players went about preparing for each at bat. With the use of instant replay and modern technology, he studied his swings and the pitchers he faced. It was reported that he would review each at bat between innings even. Gwynn was a picture of consistence for twenty years. Whenever the team needed a hit, Gwynn would deliver. His offensive numbers are mind boggling; he is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.
But Gwynn was much more than a hitter. He made himself into a Gold Glove right fielder, which honors a player for his defensive skills at his position. When Gwynn entered professional baseball in 1988, he was, it could be said, a defensive liability and this bothered him. He set out to make himself a great defensive player and ended up winning the Gold Glove five times.
What makes this week of celebration extra special is that Tony Gwynn and LaDainian Tomlinson, who is the Chargers’ best player and face of the team, are not only great players but great people as well. Both players represent the best of their sport: good people, good citizens, and great players. For this, we are celebrating sports in San Diego.