The National League West just got a little less interesting. The San Diego Padres, rarely interesting enough to fill Petco on their own, traded Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds for quite the collection of players: Edinson Volquez, infielder Yonder Alonzo, right-hander Brad Boxberger and catcher Yasmani Grandal (the latter three were all top-10 prospects in the Reds’ system).
At first glance the Reds gave up a lot, but Latos leaves a huge void in his now former division. Not because of what he did on the field — actually, in the NL West he’s just another very good starter, since the bar’s set so high — but because of all the other stuff that surrounded Latos.
And we’re not even talking about his tattoos, or his wife Dallas’ ever-changing, always entertaining Twitter account.
Here are three of the most memorable moments of Latos’ Padres career for Giants fans (not including that time when Jonathan Sanchez hit a certain triple in a certain game in October, 2010):
1. Baseball, meet sunroof…
Most of you probably remember this story, but it’s still worth it to check out a classic passage from Extra Baggs:
Of course, I had to ask Latos about the baseball that hit Flemming’s car. He knows the story has been well circulated in San Francisco and he didn’t want to say much about it. But he swears that he sort of winged the ball underhanded as he was jogging off the field during batting practice and it took a pinball bounce off the concourse before landing in the players’ parking lot beyond the left field stands. He said he truly didn’t mean to inflict any damage on anything.
“I’ve heard people are saying I threw it over the Coke bottle. That’s not even close to true,” Latos said. “Look, people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. If they send me a bill, I’ll pay it. I’m sorry it happened and I’ll be responsible for it. But I didn’t know there was a parking lot back there. I wasn’t trying to throw it out of the stadium.”
The other day, I wrote that Latos received a bill. It turns out that wasn’t quite accurate. Flemming’s car is in the shop right now. The Giants finance department will receive the total repair cost, and eventually, forward it to the Padres.
The lesson learned?
“When you throw a ball in the stands,” said Latos, “Throw it to the guy in the first row.”
That being said, if this comment was accurate, Latos might have some anger management issues.
When Latos made these comments, Giants fans on Twitter had a field day:
“Baseball works in funny ways,” said Latos, now 0-4 with a 10.13 ERA over his past four starts. “The only way I could honestly put it is, we could be like the Giants and go and change our whole lineup, put guys with ‘San Francisco Giants’ across their jerseys. We didn’t.
“We added two guys [Tejada and Ryan Ludwick, now hitting .221 with five homers in 54 games with the Padres]. We’ve been the same team all year. We haven’t just gone and grabbed guys from other teams.”
A new hashtag was born, which prompted this equally entertaining Latos response:
“I could care less about people in San Francisco, what they think and what they say,” he said. “Everybody is entitled to their opinion on everything. I could talk until I’m blue in the face about it. I’m sure Philly thinks the same thing. Florida probably thinks the same thing. People have their own opinions. Let them tweet about it.”
Latos does not like Twitter. This is something of a surprise. Twitter was made for Latos, who talks in short bursts faster than a court reporter types.
“It’s a waste of my time,” he said. “There’s no point. Twitter is nothing. Twitter is a bunch of people that get online and send a bunch of messages to one another that talk about professional sports and athletes and think what they say matters. Everybody’s a comedian on Twitter. Whatever.”
3. “I hate SF!”
This photo pretty much says it all:
A lot of Giants fans hated him right back, but I’ll miss the guy. While Giants fans are supposed to hate the Dodgers for reasons historical and provincial, and should hate the D-Backs because they crushed the Giants’ hopes of defending their 2010 World Series championship last season, Latos was a guy who was fun to hate.
He’s a very good pitcher who clearly relished facing San Francisco, and whether it was Buster Posey or Giants fans who got under his skin, it showed on the mound. Love Latos or hate him, the guy is the opposite of a generic starting pitcher. For that reason I’m going to miss watching him face the Giants four times a year, especially when the Giants go against the far less demonstrative Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Moseley, Cory Luebke and Volquez. Who’s left on the Padres for Giants fans to get riled up over now? Cameron Maybin?