Padres pack Petco Park and punch-out Dodger pitching

Big win and big crowd for home opener

SAN DIEGO - A sell-out/overflow crowd packed Petco Park on Tuesday for the Padres home season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fan Richard Thomas wore his throwback jersey to the game. 

"It looks like we're off to a slow start but I've got a feeling they're going to turn this team around," Thomas said. "They have to play some better baseball."

Joyce Huddleston added, "I'm hopeful, always hopeful, especially against the Dodgers.  Please beat the Dodgers today."

Richard and Karen Stern were enjoying themselves. 

"I enjoy baseball," one said. "We're here to support the team and hope for the best."

Bob Petronella is optimistic, despite the team's 1-5 start. 

"I'm very excited," Petronella said. "It's a slow start. Nothing to be worried about… half the team's missing."

The Padres are hurt: six Padres are on the disabled list, including 3rd baseman and slugger Chase Headley with a fractured thumb. Several others are day-to-day or very fragile, and catcher Yasmani Grandal is suspended for 50-games for using performance enhancing drugs.

They also have a payroll that ranks 26th out of 30 in the major leagues. The Dodgers, in town this mid-week, top the list at over $220 million. The Padres pay out $66-million in salaries, which is less than a third of that. Superstars like Adrian Gonzalez, who grew up in Chula Vista and the Padres system, go to the money. He is a Dodger now and on a team expected to compete.

There is also frustration in the fan base which goes beyond winning and losing. The Yankees come to town in August for the first time in more than a decade and partial season ticket holders have had their Saturday night game switched to Sunday. Many are upset.

Kathleen La Gamma, a partial season ticket holder, is one. 

"The Padres are greedy and sold out loyal fans for the mighty dollar," she told 10News during an earlier interview.  

There is another issue: television. Padres fans who prefer to watch the game at home have been separated into two classes: the haves and have-nots. A contract dispute with Time Warner Cable has kept Padres games off the air in 129,000 homes in San Diego County, which is an issue that has drawn the ire of Mayor Bob Filner and members of the San Diego City Council.   

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