Breaking Bad

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about possible targets for the Padres at the trade deadline. The Padres were looking to buy, and I was looking for ways they could spend. At the time, the Padres were 40-42. They’d lost two in a row and things hadn’t been great for a week or so, but hey, no big deal.

At the end of the post, I decided to throw in a small caveat:

“Of course, all this could be moot by the All-Star Break. If they play poorly the next two weeks, they could potentially go from buyers to sellers. If they’re going to buy, maybe they shouldn’t wait that long to make their moves.”

I had no idea.

Obviously, if you’re a Padres fan reading this I don’t need to tell you about the past two weeks. In 16 days the Padres went from 40-40 and in 2nd place in the division to 42-54 and last place, now 8.5 games back from first place. They lost 10 in a row, then after breaking that streak, played even worse. They lost 4 straight by a total run differential of -22.

The worst of it, and whether or not it was rock bottom remains to be seen, was Saturday night’s 9-0 loss in which Tim Lincecum threw a 148 pitch no-hitter and Edinson Volquez tried to erase any chance the Padres could get anything of value for him in a trade.

I have never been happier that I watch the games with the sound off. The whole thing was gross enough on mute. Watching Fox Sports San Diego cut to Giants fans in the stands screaming in disgust that a pitch a foot out of the zone had been called a ball was painful. Watching Padres hitter after Padres hitter flail wildly with no hope of making significant contact was sickening. Had I been listening to Dick Enberg excitedly counting down the outs or heard the tens of thousands of Giants “fans” who had made Petco Park home cheering Lincecum on, I might have been literally sick.

Lincecum was great. His fastball had ridiculous movement. His breaking ball had the Padres fooled the whole game. That he was able to throw so many pitches and not falter enough to give up a hit (with a little help from his defense, of course) is a testament to how good his stuff was. But he wasn’t unhittable. The Padres just failed. Not that it mattered. No-hitter or not, the Padres were never in the game. Edinson Volquez made sure of that.

The Padres did avoid going into the break on another extended losing streak, winning Sunday’s game 10-1, powered by 4 home runs and another stellar pitching performance by their unlikely stopper Eric Stults. Can they turn things around? They certainly needed that win, and the break should do them good. What it didn’t do was take the bad taste out of my mouth from the night before.

Early in Saturday’s game, FSSD showed a shot of Padres Chairman and CEO Ron Fowler and O’Malley family point man Peter Seidler sitting together in the stands, taking in a ballgame and chatting about god knows what. Beverage experience? Growing up a Dodgers fan?

I wish the cameras had found them again later in the game. Did they stick around to see the finish? How many Giants fans were in their section? In their row? Announced attendance for Saturday night’s game was 40,342. Over the four game series with the Giants, the Padres drew 147,922 fans. That’s a successful long weekend if you’re only looking at the corporate bottom line. But what percentage of that were Giants fans?

Over those 4 games, were half the fans at the home park rooting for the home team? This is a recurring problem, and while it’s ignorable when you’re winning, it’s horrible when you’re losing. It’s insult to injury. It’s like a state attorney losing a case it should have won and then being scolded by the defense team as shameful for having attempted to prosecute at all.

I hope Ron and Peter stayed to the end Saturday night. I hope they were as disgusted as I and other Padres fans were. With now former team President and CEO Tom Garfinkel finally out of the way, the weight of this team’s successes and failures lie squarely on their shoulders. I hope they feel it. I hope it burdens them. I hope it keeps them up at night. I doubt it, but I hope.

Maybe this team can turn the season around again. If they don’t, as Bud Black would sarcastically and annoyingly say, that’s baseball. But it’s not good baseball. Padres fans will support good baseball. Padres fans should not support the product they’ve been handed the past 16 days.

Enjoy the All-Star Break. Watch the Home Run Derby with the sound off. Root for Everth. Go find video of Hunter Renfroe’s first professional home run and Austin Hedges‘ ridiculous pop time at the Futures game. When things break bad, find the good and hold it close.

Follow me on Twitter @The_NV. Follow the rest of Padres Public too, and tweet along with us during the games using the hashtag #PPLive. It’s fun, except when it’s not. The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays.

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  • I too hope the burden weighs them down. There’s a lot of work to be done if this organization is serious about ensuring that Padres fans outnumber the opposition’s.

  • SingingFriar

    Subtitle “Garf’s Legacy,” please. Great column. I’m glad you didn’t (like some others have on Twitter, etc.) blame season ticket holders (all 10k or whatever) for selling their tickets to Giants fans. The past several seasons have seen such shoddy baseball against teams with good San Diego fanbases (Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, etc.) that I don’t blame season ticket holders or regular fans for not showing up in droves one bit.

    What it comes down to is an inferior product on the field. When you get tired of going to a game and sitting in what feels to be an opposing team’s crowd that, more often than not, gets the W, you’re gonna want to sell those games’ tickets as well. Winning drives attendance—Oh, and also good ticket marketing. Scrap that progressive ticket pricing bullshit that was also part of Garf’s Legacy and give the Padres fans reasons to show up.