Medica’s misguided cycle attempt

San Diego Padres first baseman Tommy Medica, left, celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in Phoenix.  

If Tommy Medica’s end run to become the first player in Padres history to hit for the cycle is successful, obviously, there is only one way to view it.

As a Medica Marvel.

Oh, a few other thoughts come to mind. Cheesy and cheap are two, and that’s only from the "ch" department.

Surely, you’ve seen or heard the details by now: Conducting his own personal desert storm last Wednesday in Phoenix, Medica belted a hooking, sinking liner in the second inning that third baseman Martin Prado failed to field. Prado (correctly) was given an E-5. Medica went on to collect a triple, double and home run, falling only a single short of becoming the first Padre in history to hit for the cycle.

So, naturally, he filed an appeal through the Players’ Association hoping to get the official scorer’s decision overturned.

Or rather, his agent did.

"He came to me the day after and said he filed something," Medica, who is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, told me when we talked the other day. "It wasn’t [filed by] me."

Still. Semantics. If the player doesn’t ask the agent – who works for him, in theory – to cease and desist, then, clearly, the player approves of the move.

Now, I don’t want to bring fire and brimstone here because Medica is only 26, has barely dipped his toe in the major-league pool and seems like a nice enough kid. I just think he’s getting rotten advice.

There are a couple of angles to this thing, and none of them pass the smell test.

As you might have noticed, the Padres are off to a rough start and the play under appeal came in a game in which Arizona blew San Diego’s doors off, 12-6.

You know those Little League kids who come home bragging about how they went 4 for 4 and, after a lengthy filibuster, the parents say, by the way, how did your team do, and the answer is that, oh, yeah, well, Little Johnny’s team was smoked? That’s how this plays.

You do not want to be Little Johnny.

And it’s made worse by the fact that Medica has only 42 games in the big leagues.

It takes some real stones for a kid to file an appeal like this when his team has just gotten clobbered. Especially when, following the E-5, triple, double and homer he still had a chance to complete the cycle with one more plate appearance. But he flied out in his final at-bat in the ninth.

It takes even more stones to file an appeal like this when the Padres are one of only two franchises in the majors – the Marlins are the other – that has never had a player hit for the cycle.

You do not want your franchise’s first cycle in 46 seasons to be completed via e-mail from major league baseball’s home office in New York on a technicality.

I asked Medica if he didn’t think this cycle would be tainted by now, even if he gets it.

"It would be different," he admitted. "But if they believe it’s a hit, then it’s what they say it is."

The first line of defense already has ruled, and the official scorer called it an error.

If MLB officials overturn the call, it will be just plain wrong. First, because the play clearly is an error. And second, because by going about a cycle this way, it’s a me-first, team-second affront not only to Medica’s current teammates, but to Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield and all the Padres who came before him and didn’t do it on the field. Nate Colbert, Chris Cannizzaro, Johnny Grubb … go ahead, toss in your preferred blast from the past. Bip Roberts, even.

"It would be a little weird for the first cycle, if it is overturned," Medica conceded. "But in 10 or 20 years, people are not going to look back and say, ‘He got the cycle two weeks late.’

"It might be weird here for the next few weeks."

See, this is where I think he needs better advice, where his youth and inexperience are not allowing him to see beyond the moment. Absolutely, in 10 or 20 years – heck, in 50 years – people will still look back at what would be the first cycle in Padres history and view it as fishy. It’s one of the great things about hard-core baseball fans: Elephantine memories.

Yes, it’s true that manager Bud Black told Medica that the Padres probably would have filed an appeal on his behalf. But Black is a master at sticking up for his players and, my opinion? I think he was using it as a "teachable moment" during his discussion with Medica to gently tell him that separating himself from the team and personally pushing for his own greater glory maybe wasn’t necessarily the best way to approach this.

It’s also true that we live in an age in which this is what agents do: They fight for their players at every turn, because one more hit means another point on the ol’ batting average, or OPS, and it could mean more dollars come arbitration time.

At any level, Medica has never before hit for a cycle.

In college at Santa Clara, he told me, there was a game in which he needed only a single to complete a cycle. But he grounded deep into the hole at short, and the throw to first beat him by a split second.

At Class A Lake Elsinore, he once came to the plate late with the Storm down three runs and the bases loaded needing only a homer to complete the cycle. He got a fastball but popped to shortstop.

"That would have been a cool way to get a cycle," he said.

Agreed. Way cool.

Obtaining a cycle by appealing a scoring call in a 12-6 loss, however? Not cool.

I do hope Medica gets his cycle one day, possibly even while wearing a Padres uniform. But not like this.


Longtime national columnist Scott Miller will be a weekly contributor to, discussing the San Diego Padres and Major League Baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter at @ScottMillerBbl.