When there’s a strain in a relationship, sometimes the only way to repair it is to talk it out. If the relationship is with a baseball team, the conversation will likely be a bit one-sided. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up and tell your team how you feel. When you speak from a place of love, what could possibly go wrong?
I’ve been a Padres fan for longer than I can remember. Usually when someone says they’ve wanted to be something for as long as they can remember, I consider it an exaggeration. You really wanted to be a chef as a 5 year old? You never wanted to be an astronaut? Or even a space chef? I’m not buying it. However, I’ve literally been a Padres fan since before my first real memory.
I turned 3 years old in late September of 1984, and apparently I was captivated by that World Series-bound Padres team. My parents say that I would actually sit in front of the TV watching those classic Padres games, totally focused on Padres baseball. When I wasn’t watching the games, I was using a turkey baster as a bat, swinging for the 5.5 hole (not really), and running the bases in my family’s apartment on Colusa Street, in between Linda Vista and Friars Rd. I don’t remember what we used as a ball, but that’s not really important. I don’t know if it’s possible to be born with Padres brown and yellow coursing through my veins, but I do know that I definitely had it transfused into my bloodstream at a very young age.
That’s kind of the way it normally goes with sports fandom, isn’t it? You pick a team early in your childhood, usually one associated with your home town, and that’s your team for life. It becomes a lot like family. I may have moved from Poway to the western suburbs of Cleveland in the summer of 2006, but not only did I not lose touch with the Padres, our bond actually grew. They became more than just my team. The Padres became a way to maintain a connection with my home. We may not see each other often, but we’re tight like brothers, and just like with my actual brother and sister, I may not see eye to eye with the Padres all the time, but I’ll always have their back.
Right now, though, the Padres and I are in very different places in life, and as much as I don’t want it to, it’s really starting to wear on our relationship. I think we just want different things out of life. I want so much more for them than they seem to want for themselves.
I think a big part of the problem stems from the fact that I’m so focused on living in the moment in my own life. As pitchers and catchers get set to report to Peoria for the 2013 season, I’m in the best situation of my life and I’m trying to take as much advantage of that as possible. I’m finally at a point in which my wife and I have a little extra money after all the bills are paid. Rather than stowing it away for some moment in a distant future I can’t right now envision, I’m investing in my present. I want to experience the finer things in life. I want to drink all the good beer (beer status: Troeg’s Nugget Nectar), eat at all the good restaurants, and travel to all the places I’ve always wanted to see. I don’t want to wait to live a great life. I want to live a great life while I’m young enough to really enjoy it.
The Padres, on the other hand, just recently got out of a bad relationship, their 2nd big break up in just the past few years. They’re in a new relationship now, but they’re still hanging out with and being heavily influenced by a lot of the same people, many of whom I never really liked. Things seem to be slowly improving, but they’re still not back to the same place they were 6 or 7 years ago when they were doing pretty well for themselves, and it seems like they’re being held back from their true potential. They’ve got money but they’re not spending it. They say it’s not really that much more than they had before, but it felt like they were stowing away money before and feels the same way now. What little they are spending seems to be on things that aren’t really going to make them any better. Most importantly, they say they’re building towards the future, but they’re still living year to year with their best asset, unwilling to make a long term commitment.
Mostly I think the Padres are afraid to take a risk with their money, and until they do, they’re going to be justifiably perceived as cheap. When you’re a baseball team, you can’t really build a winner without taking some risks. How can you be competitive in the long term when you aren’t willing to offer any free agent player more than 3 years? It’s not that they can’t afford to keep up with the market, it’s that they’re unwilling to make the commitments that nearly every other team is willing to make, which leads to losing out on opportunities to improve. Instead they’re sitting on what they have as it gets more expensive without getting much better, hoping it’s good enough. It could be. I could be underestimating some of the younger talent. It just seems like a longshot. They’re probably at least a player or two away. Those players were out there this winter, but the Padres refused to pull the trigger.
It’s hard to be at odds with your family. I want to reach out to them and see if there’s anything I can do to help. I want to talk some sense into them. It’s hard to do from 2300 miles away. Luckily, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. We as Padres fans are a family, and we as Padres fans can make a difference by making our collective voices heard. I’m not abandoning the Padres. I’ve stuck with them this long, and it’s not like things have ever been consistently good. For now, I will continue to hope for the best and criticize the worst, rooting my team on through thick and thin. As Mud Grant would say, it’s a big league hang with ‘em.