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Ready for a Brand New Day

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1. The home locker rooms are, while not impressive facilities by any means, at least more inhabitable than the visitors' ones that Mike had been forced to inhabit on the Padres' trips to Chicago. He wouldn't be surprised if some of that odor was a direct relic of Babe Ruth's visits.

2. David Ross isn't offended by Mike elbowing in on his territory, so long as he doesn't make any age jokes. "I won't lie, my knees could use the extra off days," he explains. "But I've got a thing going here. You try and steal the geezer spotlight from me, then I'm gonna mix up the signs with Hendricks and won't tell you about it. You dig?"

Mike digs.

3. Willson Contreras doesn't care at all, as long as Mike doesn't insult the garish Venezuelan color scheme on his arms.

4. The wind blows out, yeah, but sometimes it also blows in. So when he's not dealing with Jake Arrieta's temper as another cheap shot from the Brewers sails beyond the warning track, he's taking good cuts and having them blow helplessly foul, to the boring brick walls that don't even have a cushion of ivy waiting to turn red with autumn.

5. There are fans cheering him on in every visiting city, lots of them. Maddon says it has something to do with the franchise's early embrace of national television. One of the camera guys says it has something to do with people wanting to support underdogs. "You didn't hear that," Maddon tells him. This is a new era; he came there to win.

It's a change of pace from San Diego, a big one, but he wonders how many of them knew his name before.

6. Despite the last-minute phone call wrangling, Ted Copeland stays out of the way and doesn't interfere with Maddon's substitutions.

"So were you guys, like, in high school together?" Mike asks one day, very casually.

Rossy takes a minute, then chortles. "Oh, you're good."

7. Occasionally he'll glimpse Duarte on SportsCenter, and he feels strangely blank about it. He's not competing with the rookie for playing time any longer, but they're not friends, probably never will be. What he wants to watch is everyone else--Blip, Ginny, everyone--but the Padres are still well below .500, and they're not going to make the highlight reel for long. He's not theirs anymore, he reminds himself, they are not his.

8. The fans get weirdly territorial about the thick casserole slab they call pizza.

9. They win. They go seven games against Cleveland, hold on in extra innings, and the victory rally is one of the largest crowds in recorded history. Mike's name is enshrined in history; the city will remember him forever, for the quiet mound visits, the hits the opposite way, for everything he did for them.

He's thrilled. But part of him can only shake his head and laugh; over a decade in San Diego, and this is his legacy?

10. Well, there's Ginny. But she is not hers or Duarte's or Luongo's or Arguella's, he knows; whatever comes, she is her own.