Forgotten, Ignored, Irrelevant: San Diego Padres

The truth behind being a San Diego Padres fan was recently brought to my attention in a seemingly innocuous situation. I was gathered with people who enjoy sports and baseball in particular.  As is often the case in these circumstances, us fans from all backgrounds and origins began assessing each other’s fandom.  And that of course begins with the team each person pledges their allegiance.

So around the room we went. Each person took their turn declaring their undying support. A Yankees fan announced his love for all things pinstripes to a mixed reaction of supports and denigration.  A Red Sox fan was accused of being fair-weathered, an accusation along the lines of capital murder.  A Phillies fan celebrated his team’s World Series triumphs, a Diamondbacks fan declared the snakes top dog, and a Cubs fan was showered with empathy (or maybe pity) by all.  Then it was my turn.  It was my time to let the world know of my delirious obsession over all things Padres.
But a funny thing happened.  No one cared.  No one dared mock my team. No one boldly accused me of being a fair-weather fan.  No one jeered my beloved Padres, and no one cheered them either.  Instead, I was passed up like the fat kid waiting to be picked for kickball at recess.  The discussions and debates carried on as if my declaration of support had fallen upon deaf ears.  And that’s when it truly hit me, no one outside of San Diego, or those with ties to San Diego, cares about the Padres.

This is a team who hasn’t seen too much failure, but hasn’t seen too much success either.  This is a team devoid of scandal, but equally devoid of praise. Their most recent Cy Young award winner is possibly more famous for an injury no one in baseball had ever seen before.  Their one MVP was addicted to drugs and alcohol, a combination that ended his life much too soon.  Their most famous player is often overshadowed by his Hall of Fame class member, Cal Ripken Jr.

All of this may depress the average fan.  It could bring a weaker following to its knees and cause them to question their purpose.  But not for us.  Not for San Diego Padres fans.  Such conceived slights and passive insults only serve to strengthen our resolve.  To be ignored makes it all the better when our team rises up and shocks the world.  Our pride as Padres fans is fueled by the knowledge that it takes so much more to love a mediocre team than it takes to love a juggernaut.

To the world, I say have your Yankees and have you Phillies.  Have your perennially successful teams and your lovable losers.  I’ll take my Padres any day of the week.  You know why?  They are an institution of innovation.  They, like the fans who follow them, must jump through hoops, find new ways, scratch and claw, and make themselves a success.

Pass me over all you want fans of other teams.  I have a pride that you can never know or understand.  I am a San Diego Padres fan.

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  • DomDiTolla

    Justin, let me just say that this is a fantastic post. Really captures a lot of what it means to be a Pads. fan (especially in the presence of fans of other MLB teams). Loving a team when they are either beloved or despised by all is fine and par for the course for almost all MLB franchises. But Pads. fans like us have loved our team unconditionally when nobody watches and/or cares is really something we all know about and have experienced.

    I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but something positive will happen. I just hope it’s within my life span. And if it isn’t? That’s okay too because they’re still my team and I’ll stick by them through anything. To me it doesn’t matter how many terrible front office and roster moves they have made or will make in the future, or how small their payroll is compared to other franchises, or how much recognition they get from the media and MLB fans at large. Plain and simple, they’re “my” team, and “my” team they’ll always be.

  • sdfriarfan

    Well said. I will say, however, that there are “pockets” and “cells” of Padres fans like me who have absolutely no ties to San Diego whatsoever. I fell in love with their uniforms during the 1984 WS when I was the ripe old age of 9. GO PADRES!

  • ChickenFriars

    You sir are a true fan. I’m sure yuo were disappointed with they did not “bring back the brown” with the new uniforms? @sdfriarfan

  • ChickenFriars

    Exactly. And I do think they will catch lightning in a bottle and win a World Series in our time Dom. We may be waiting a long time, but it will happen. I remember being so jealous of my Dad because he went to Game 3 of the 1998 World Series and I thought I’d never have a chance to see a Padres play-off game in person. Then in 2005, I was literally calling the second tickets went on sale. Again, I thought I had to capture this moment because it may never happen in my life time. Low and behold, they made it again in 2006 (and I got to go to two games that year thanks to home field advantage). I look forward to the next time they make the postseason because this next time, I will be able to share it with my wife and son. @DomDiTolla

  • sdfriarfan

    @ChickenFriars I was disappointed. I loved the mock-ups that The Sacrifice Bunt did some time ago: subtle brown and mustard piping with the current style. Nothing over the top…but I digress.

  • EdRad

    Love this! I am a White Sox Fan (Born and raised in Chicago) but have adopted the Padres as my NL teal since the early days of Tony Gwynn (and the Padres beating the Cubs in 1984 helped also). My Padres love has increased each year. I get a lot of funny looks and the occasional “Why?” when I wear my Padres gear or reveal that I am a Padres fan, so I can relate to your post. It works out great for me. I can watch the Sox then flip to the late Padres game after. I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

  • dannsing

    Great post – living on the East Coast, I often run into this ignored or indifference when it comes to the Padres. Other fans respect the team but don’t have any opinion either way really.

    I wonder if the same could be said about the Angels 10 years ago. They were in a similar boat until they hired Scioscia and won while Moreno spent a ton to keep the team in contention every year.

    Either way, I have been waiting for the Padres to not let me down. I still hurt from being in the NYC area during the ’98 series. They were killed by the local talk shows cause of Bochy’s decisions.

  • ChickenFriars

    @EdRad It always makes me feel more proud knowing I will never be considered a fair-weather fan. Thanks for reading. Also, I’m a big fan of having an NL and an AL team, so I’m glad you chose the Pads as your NL team.

  • AIChief_AJM

    Great post. Padre fans, with all we endure, are true.

  • DanielNava

    I was born and raise in San Diego and have been a life long Padres fan. I lived in St. Louis for a year (2004), and DC for 3 (2007-2009). Saint Louis fans are generally classy at games, though when I would watch games at bars, they were completely patronizing (they eliminated us from the playoffs enough to earn it).

    In DC it was always either pity or indifference. I was the captain if a beer league softball team and always wore my 1984 Cooperstown replica Padres baseball cap. DC being as transient and cosmopolitan as it is I remember the most common comment was “wow, you must love punishment”.

    My softball team was 0-10. So maybe I do love punishment?

  • ChickenFriars

    @dannsing Yeah Bochy probably deserved a lot of that criticism though. That Yankees team was pretty incredible in ’98 though so you have to still be proud of how far the Pads got.

  • ChickenFriars

    @AIChief_AJM I’ve lived in AZ for a number of years now and could have easily jumped ship to root for the Dbacks, but I’ll always be a San Diegan at heart and a Padres fan through and through. Thanks for the kind words.

  • ChickenFriars

    @DanielNava I’ll tell you something about living punishment. All those Rays fans who stuck through the Vince Naimoli years and stood by their team have a pride I think only is Padres fans can understand. Sure you can jump on a bandwagon and be pretty happy, but nothing compares to the pride of your team breaking through after years of punishment.