Turn that frown upside down

I didn’t make it out to Peoria this year, thanks to the ACL, but I have made roughly 8 trips out there in the last 5 years. So it’s safe to say that I’ve seen my fair share of Spring Training action. I’ve seen it all. The backfields, the main field, the batting cages, the clubhouse, the gym and the bars restaurants.

Usually, there’s optimism among fans. The players spout the usual cliches that you hear every year. But in the past few years you could tell that they didn’t mean it. The clubhouse was dull. It was boring. You got the feeling that they were there just to collect their check and go on their way.

Players were just going through the motions on the fields. You had pickleball going on, which if you don’t know what pickleball is here are some images a quick Google scan popped up:

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Long story short, it appears to be played by only old people.

That was the Josh Byrnes era. It is now the AJ Preller era.

That’s right, pickleball has been replaced with a 3 point shoot around contest, which was won by GM AJ Preller’s team.

Add to that, the many tweets from the writers who don’t spend a lot of time with the team.

People are taking notice. Go through Ryan Parker’s entire feed from yesterday, where he had about 20 tweets gushing about the Padres camp.

Also of note this year, when you hear the players during interviews they actually sound like they are believers as well. They sound loose. They sound like they are having a good time. They sound like they want to and think they can win. This is fantastic to hear.

Add to that, the deal that James Shields signed with the team. He is making only $10 million this season. When have you ever seen a Top 5 free agent sign a deal that would help the team out like that? Granted he wanted to play in his current hometown, but to go from $10 million to $21 million every year (2016, 2017, 2018) for the remainder of his contract is quite the difference. It leads me to think that even players on the outside want to come to this franchise, that was once laughed at, and, more importantly, think that they could win.

The buzz is real this year.

And with that handsome devil Matt Kemp around, maybe there will once again be a Mamie Van Doren type to watch the games again.

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Rick was retired from RJ’s Fro, but then he got old and broke down, so he’s not retired anymore. Place pity on him and his ailing ACL, by giving him a follow on Twitter @RJsFro Much obliged.

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  • ballybunion

    I wondered why A.J. Preller wanted Kemp so badly, and now I see why. Bud Black mentioned how naming a closer sets up the rest of the bullpen, with everyone else slotting into their roles. Kemp does that for the position players, stepping into the spotlight and liking it, even thriving in it. Having Kemp as the face of the franchise allows the new players and holdovers to mesh more easily. Shields does the same for the pitching staff, taking pressure off Ross, Cashner, and Kennedy. But the main thing is, if Spring Training is any guide, the pitching is as good as it was last year at 3.81 ERA, and the offense is scoring five runs a game instead of 3.3.