Bryce Miller: San Diego's favorite Joe (Musgrove) puts the 'we' and 'us' in Padres' rise

Bryce Miller, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Baseball

SAN DIEGO — The cars lined both sides of Tavern Road and Victoria Park Terrace as far as eyes could see. They jockeyed for spots because of a man sitting at a small table in a parking lot next to a giant ice machine, sandwiched between a landscaping business and a Shell station.

They came to get a glimpse of Padres' homegrown pitcher Joe Musgrove, to get close enough to truly sense and feel how much he wants to win a World Series as part of the team he rooted for as a kid in El Cajon.

Young boys in mustard-and-mud jerseys cautiously crept closer to the spot where he was being interviewed on 97.3 FM's "John Kentera Show." A 92-year-old fan talked about the franchise's long-yellowed Lane Field days.

Musgrove represents more than a local-guy-done-good story for a Major League Baseball team. He's the beating heart and sincere soul of an unprecedented collection of talent sharpening climbing tools for a dreamed ascent of the sport's elusive mountaintop.

They came to see Musgrove. As they swarmed a small drive-through coffee shop, Caffe Adesso, owned by his family and a partner, they also came to see what they hoped becomes a bigger, bewildering future.

Machado. Soto. Tatis. Bogaerts. Darvish. So many pieces will be required if the franchise launched in 1969 intends has a chance to go where it wants to go.


Musgrove is the most beloved piece. The most relatable piece. The most "he's one of us" piece. He tossed the club's first no-hitter. He delivered perhaps the most impressive start in team history, a playoff clincher last October against the Mets in New York.

"He's a man of the people. He's one of them, " said longtime Padres' TV analyst Mark Grant, an Alpine resident who stops at the coffee shop each morning on the way to Petco Park. "A lot of guys would go into hiding (with all the success).

"Joe answers the bell because he gets it."

As Kentera and Musgrove talked, the semi-circle of fans four- to five-deep in spots hung on each and every word. When Musgrove mentioned that he was a "young, arrogant" kid after being picked in the first round of the MLB Draft out of Grossmont High School, it sounded like something from another galaxy.


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