By: Wayne McBrayer
With the beginning of the baseball season, hope bubbles up in the hearts of baseball fans all over America. Fans young and old go to the ballpark and cheer for the home team, praying to the baseball gods that their team will win that day and have a successful year. Sadly, I am not one of those people. I am a fan, and yes victim, of the hapless San Diego Padres.
Every year, Padres fans like myself look forward to great craft beer, wonderful food, and hundreds of fans of other clubs who turn Petco Park into their own temporary home stadium. Believe me, it’s not an easy or a fun baseball life to live. I do derive enjoyment from co-authoring a blog with Dr. Rebecca Herman called Padres360, where we interview minor league Padres prospects, former Padres players I grew up watching, and writing food reviews about what is served at Petco Park. Interviewing the kids coming up and becoming friends with former Padres players is a passion for us and makes up for the current status of this rudderless organization.
Things have not always been miserable in Padresland. There have been many memorable moments and players over it’s almost 50-year history. Dave Winfield began his career here straight out of the University of Minnesota and Ozzie Smith played his first few seasons at Jack Murphy Stadium. Trevor Hoffman came in a trade from the Florida Marlins and developed into one of the best relievers in Major League history and Tony Gwynn won 8 batting titles and may be one of the greatest hitters of all time. The KGB/World Famous Chicken became the ICON of mascots starting in 1974 and still performs to this day and has his Chicken Suit in the Hall of Fame. Great moments include Steve Garvey’s performance in Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS against the Cubs when his 9th inning home run off Lee Smith led to the famous phrase stated by broadcaster Don Drysdale after Garvey’s ball cleared the fence, “and there will be tomorrow.” Gwynn stroked his 3000th hit in Montreal on 8/6/1999 and Rickey Henderson becoming a member of the 3000 hit club the same day Tony Gwynn played his last game at Qualcomm. Yes, there have been great memories and some I was there to see in person but this is 2017 and a very different time and ownership.
My hope for the 2017 season is not a World Series Championship, a playoff spot, or even a .500 club because that won’t happen unless 29 teams fold during the season. My hope and prayer is that the Padres realize the mistake they made on October 29, 2015 when they hired Andy Green to be the manager of the San Diego Padres. A wise leadership team will fire him. My prayer to the baseball gods is that Andy is replaced with a Dick Williams or Bruce Bochy style manager, who would teach young, talented players like Margot, Renfroe, and Hedges how to play the game correctly. Andy Green’s brief tenure as our “little general” has caused me to long for the good old days when Larry Bowa managed the Padres. That reminds me that I need to start reading my copy of “Bleep!” that Barry Bloom wrote about Larry’s time in Padresville. Ah, the memories….
It is no coincidence that Padres Fanfest was held on April Fool’s Day this season and no surprise that we lost Opening Day 14-3 to the Dodgers. It is the Padres organization’s way of reminding their fan base who pay money to support a 5th place club in a 5-team division of what they really think of us. I am aware that we have spent money on the international market to acquire young talent, have traded Major League players away for young Minor League talent, and have drafted well the last 2 seasons. I have been told the Padres will soon be a .500 club “in the near future.” I just wonder if my unborn grandchildren will live to see that achievement happen.
After all I have written, I am well aware it could be worse. The Padres could have moved to Washington, DC and I would have had no local Major League club to cheer for. Not that I consider the 2017 San Diego Padres a Major League club… but Major League teams come to Petco Park and play the Padres, and I’ll be there, cheering for the Padres regardless of the score. I will also keep praying that someday they will bring back the brown jerseys full-time and ditch the ugly colors they have now. Our ownership can’t even get that right and could care less what it’s minimal fan base thinks.
Go Padres! Who am I kidding? They are going nowhere fast but I still love them and will cheer for them. The Padres may be the worst organization in baseball but they can’t take away my wonderful memories that I have experienced at San Diego Stadium/Jack Murphy Stadium/Qualcomm Stadium/Petco Park during my 45-year relationship.
Written with a few laughs and tears,
Wayne A. McBrayer