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Oct. 11th, 2004

It was both a good and a bad weekend for San Diego sports.

The good. On Sunday the Chargers wore their powder-blue throwback uniforms and easily defeated a pretty good team. The last time the Chargers won in the powder blues was 1994, when Bobby Ross was still the head coach and led the team to its only Super Bowl appearance. Bobby Ross is now the head coach of Army, who won on Saturday, ending the nation's longest losing streak.

The bad. Ken Caminiti, perennial All-Star third baseman for the Padres and NL MVP in 1996, when he led the Padres to the World Series, died on Sunday of an apparent heart attack. Caminiti was perhaps my second favorite Padre of all time, behind Tony Gwynn. Words used to describe Caminiti include "gritty," "warrior," "tough," and "intense." He was a fan favorite for his style of play. He could be hurt, barely able to walk, but would will himself onto the field and play great. In 1996, early in the season, he was dehydrated in the heat of Monterey, Mexico, in the first ever series to be played outside of the U.S., but he took fluids intravenously and proceeded to hit 2 homeruns and drive in 8 runs. That's the type of player he was. And he was always fun to watch. His defense was exciting. He'd dive to stop a drive down the line, hop to his feet, and fire a laser across the diamond to Wally Joyner at first. He was even fun to watch when he failed -- often, pissed at an at-bat, he would snap the bat in two across his thigh as though it were a twig and walk to the dugout fuming. Yeah, he was intense alright! Eventually his style of play took its toll on his body. He broke down physically and retired in 2001. His lifestyle contributed to his body's breakdown. He admitted that he was a recovering alcoholic and, the last few years, battled drug abuse problems. He was trying to get back into baseball this year, hoping to coach in a capacity where he could counsel young players to avoid committing the same mistakes he had concerning substance abuse. He had shown a propensity from battling back in his life and was hoping to battle back from the substance abuse problems and make something good come of it. In 2003, the Padres introduced him to the fans at the last ever game at Qualcomm Stadium, and Caminiti received a roaring, standing ovation from the crowd. He later described that day as his greatest moment in baseball. He was a generous spirit who will be missed.

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