Last Thursday, SI.com did the unthinkable: they placed the anonymous and forgotten Padres atop their power rankings, lording over the dueling AL East behemoths and, obviously, the rest of baseball.
The venerated site did this, apparently, because for the previous two and a half weeks the Friars had beaten up on 2010 lowlifes Arizona, Chicago and Pittsburgh (with a few Ws over the Giants and Brewers thrown in for good measure). Either way, at one point San Diego had won 10 of 11 and seemed like an unstoppable machine.
Not content to merely let their cover jinx extend to the power rankings on their website, the blurb within the power rankings alludes to the Padres' 96.7% chance to make the playoffs; according to Baseball Prospectus, best in baseball at that time. These two factors put the Padres in rarefied air - nothing but air, unfortunately.
Know how in the old Looney Tunes cartoons, a character - usually Wile E. Coyote - can run off of a cliff and continue running on air, but only until somebody - usually the Road Runner - points out the situation? Of course you do. That's where the character, succumbing to physics and a huge "Look Down!" sign, plummets comically to a dusty and deserving death. (Ok, not "death" per se, but you get my drift.)
The Padres have looked down. On Thursday, the day of SI.com posting its rankings, the Fathers lost 11-5 to the Diamondbacks, and have lost four more games since to rack up their longest losing streak of the year. They missed Roy Halladay over the weekend, at home, and still got swept by the Phillies.
That baseball-best chance to make the playoffs? Now it's the second-worst of all division leaders. Despite adding two competent bats at the deadline, the offense still struggles to score runs. During the five-game skid they've scored 5, 2, 1, 0, and 2 runs.
Are they jinxed? Who knows. This team isn't built around offense, to be sure, but the pitchers need to be bailed out every once in a while. The other shoe may have dropped, but the Padres can't look down.
They just need to keep running.
Update: Even the great Mat Latos can't save the falling Friars. Seven in a row. Yikes. NURSE! GET IN HERE, STAT! THE BLOOD, IT'S ... IT'S ... IT'S EVERYWHERE!!!