One of those names that once you hear it, a smile immediately strikes your face as an incredible highlight-reel begins to go on inside your brain with defensive plays that would do everything from taking the words out of your mouth to having your jaw drop straight to the floor in amazement. This dude was the absolute definition of what it means to be a playmaker at the shortstop position with a calm, cool, and collective demeanor that surrounded him each and every time he was out there. Then, of course, there was his iconic surfer-like blonde hair that would flow ever so gracefully as he would go above and beyond to make these unbelievable plays that just continued to get better and better as his career was developing with the Padres. Khalil Greene seemingly had all the tools to be the face of the franchise for San Diego. He was going to be the king and savior that the team was so desperately searching for ever since the retirement of the greatest player in franchise history, Tony Gwynn.
Khalil's story with the Padres began after winning the National Player of the Year award at Clemson University, which was all San Diego needed to see to use their 1st round selection on the future human highlight-reel. Greene was with the big league ball club a year later and that's when Padres fans began to witness the greatest display of shortstop to ever be played in the young history of Petco Park. At first glance, Khalil's physique and body language do nothing to give the impression that he may one day go down as the top defensive shortstop to ever step foot on a baseball diamond, and his personality would have Kawhi Leonard looking like Steve Harvey. He just had this look of a dude that spent the entire day at Sunset Cliffs, then decided to suit up for the Padres to straight-up dominate and this city couldn't get enough of it.
To those that didn't truly experience Khalil Greene, you may roll your eyes when I use the word dominate to describe Khalil's abilities. That same person takes a look at the back of his baseball card and sees that his best year offensively included a respectable 27 home runs and he never had a batting average over .273. Those numbers won't go far in impressing anybody, but in sports, there are players that have an impact that doesn't necessarily make the scorecard at the end of the game, and Khalil is a perfect example of this. Every true Padres fan out there will tell you that Khalil Greene was special. Special in the same way that Fernando Tatis Jr. is special. As cliche as this can sometimes sound, it's the way that these players are able to bring an entire city together to create memories and for everybody to witness the greatness that is taking place in front of them on a daily basis that makes these special type of players essentially immortal in baseball history.
So what went wrong?
Never forget in Spider-Man when Peter Parker's uncle told the young superhero that "with great power comes great responsibility." After Khalil set the Padres' team record for most home runs in a season by a shortstop and was awarded an extension from the team, his responsibility of becoming the face of the franchise seemed set. The very next season is when you could immediately see that we no longer were witnessing the same type of electricity that used to surround Khalil on the diamond. His struggles never seemed to find a way out of his game and after a terribly miserable season, the Padres made a move that will forever bring me sadness when they made the tough decision to part ways with my favorite player of all-time. A moment of sadness that struck the entire city in a way nobody saw coming, and just like that, the player that we once thought would be the face of a championship-contending franchise we haven't seen since the days of #19, would never appear ever again.