Making Decisions In A Doritos Dystopia

Everybody makes a bunch of decisions every day. Sometimes they work out great and sometimes they fail miserably. Most of them have very minimal impact on your life, either way. Whether it’s deciding to pass the car in the slow lane a half-mile before your exit or having that cup of coffee or soda a little later in the day than you normally do even though it could keep you up half the night, every decision we make throughout the day has a potential negative consequence, and yet almost all of us somehow manage to get out of bed everyday and get shit done.

For example, the other day I thought it would be fun to pick up a bag of Doritos Roulette chips at the grocery store. They were on sale and I was shopping hungry. The thing about these chips is that most of the chips in the bag are just regular Nacho Cheese Doritos, but at least one per handful, though they all look the same, is a very spicy chip. As someone who enjoys very small amounts of danger, large amounts of junk food, and does not enjoy spicy things very much, I figured this kind of challenge to my manhood was perfect.

I was wrong. This was a poor decision. I now have 90% of a bag of chips and post-traumatic stress disorder. The hot chips were too hot. There were too many hot chips. After 3 hot chips in my first 10 chips, my mouth was on fire. The can of coke I was drinking wasn’t helping. I needed a base to alleviate the burning, but I didn’t want to drink milk. I grabbed 2 slices of bread and stuffed them in my mouth. It worked. Great decision, me.

There are a lot of lessons here. One, don’t hire me to be your nutritionist. Two, know your limitations. Three, when you make a bad decision, recognize that it’s a bad decision, fix the mistake, try to make a better decision next time, and move on. This is where this post starts talking about the Padres, right before you were about to click away.

The Padres made a big decision this week, firing manager Bud Black after almost 8 1/2 seasons. He was in the last year of his contract, and GM AJ Preller, President Mike Dee, and ownership made the decision that they were not going to retain him at the end of the year. Rather than wait until the end of the year to let Buddy go, they did it with 97 games left in the season, with the team under-performing expectations but not out of the playoff picture.

This is a reasonable and defensible decision. Yes, the Padres could have made the playoffs this year with Bud Black as manager. I’ve been taking a wait-and-see approach to this season, and every time someone says that the Padres need to start winning now, my thought has been that if they hit the all-star break at .500, they’re in it and they should be buyers. They don’t need to go on a winning run right now, two weeks ago, or two weeks from now. They need to go on one good run at some point in the season. One winning streak is all it takes to turn an 81 win team into a 90 win team.

Yes, that could have happened with Bud Black as manager, but even if that had happened, the Padres were going to replace Bud Black at the end of the year. Why? Because even if the team does exactly as described, I’m convinced that somehow they would still fall just short of the playoffs. Bud Black teams don’t make the playoffs, because when the going gets tough, they fall apart.

Bud Black’s teams have been excellent in the 2nd half of the season the past few years, but they were able to play free and easy baseball in those 2nd halves because they stunk hard enough in the first half of the season that the pressure was off. In 2010, when they won 90 games and actually had a chance to go to playoffs, they went 14-17 in September/October. They blew a big August division lead and the Giants overtook them and then won the first of their 3 World Series Championships in the last 5 years. If the Padres hadn’t blown that big division lead, maybe the Giants and Bruce Bochy don’t win any of those 3 championships, which would be sad for future hall of famer Bruce Bochy, but happy for me.

Speaking of Bruce Bochy, a lot of people are comparing Bud Black’s firing to when Boch’s giant head left town. First, while Bochy and Buddy have/had a lot of the same issues, Bochy is a much better in-game strategist, and he’s only gotten better in that regard over the years. Also, in his 12 years as Padres manager, the Padres made the playoffs 4 times, including leading them to the World Series in 1998, all without the benefit of the 2nd wild card. Bud Black would have had to make the playoffs every year for these next 4 years to match that.

Yes, the Padres ownership was historically shitty for much of Bud Black’s tenure as manager, but it wasn’t much better under Bochy. When ownership gave him some the tools to win, Bochy won. Buddy had a couple of real shots to make the playoffs and they blew it.

Will Bud Black go on to be a better manager elsewhere, win a bunch of championships, and blah blah blah? Maybe, but he’d lost the trust of his bosses, so it was time to let him go. It’s impossible to know right now whether it will go down as a good decision or a bad one. Maybe Buddy will learn from the mistakes he made as Padres manager and get better. Maybe AJ Preller has no idea what he’s doing, but right now this is his team and he’s going to hire a manager he thinks will make the right decisions with the rosters he builds.

One big difference already: tonight, Preller acquisition Will Middlebrooks will make his 2nd straight appearance in the starting lineup under Pat Murphy’s interim leadership. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a lot more. But hey, Murph, why is Derek Norris batting 6th?

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