April 19, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres pinch hitter Mark Kotsay (right) reacts after a called strike three by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt (21) to end the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

The Padres Are The New Montreal Expos

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If the Padres get shutout at home, but 40% of San Diego doesn’t see it, do the Padres actually lose? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The Padres lost another game, this time to those pesky Philadelphia Phillies. The Padres stand at 3-11, and find themselves buried in last place. The optimism that greets a new season is long dead, at least in my eyes.

I am one of those people who is affected by the new television deal. I have AT&T U-Verse, and I am unable to watch live Padres baseball. I watch as many games, on demand as I can, thanks to mlb.tv. The Padres television deal is an embarrassment, and is slowly killing an already apathetic fan base.

While thinking about the Padres problems, I started to think about the baseball team formerly known as the Montreal Expos. Who could forget Pedro Martinez rocking the Jheri curl, Vladimir Guerrero slowly destroying his knees on that wretched turf, or those stupid horns you could hear blowing on the background of a game on television.

My point is, the Expos faded into obscurity, thanks to the lack of exposure. In 2000, the team failed to negotiate an English media deal, and were rarely on television. The only way the Expos were accessible was on French radio. As the payroll’s dropped, so did fans interest. Who else can remember the time the great Tony Gwynn roped his 3,000th hit in front of dozens? A few years later, the Expos became the Nationals.

I am not saying that the Padres are going to move. They have a beautiful stadium, and a long-term lease with the city. Nor am I implying they should–I love this team no matter what the outcome. However, the comparisons are uncanny. The team slashing payroll, an unstable ownership group, a boring product, and an organization that deals its most popular and productive players when cost becomes a prohibitive factor.

The Padres often play in front of small crowds, some last year were as small as 13,000. I can guarantee that they will have even smaller crowds for less-than-marquee matchups this year. Much of the fanbase cannot watch the games on television, and I suspect most do not care. While the television deal has lined the Padres pockets, it still leaves over 1 million households without Fox Sports San Diego. I long for the days of KUSI broadcasting games.

The season is young, but the Padres need to get their product, and their games accessible on television. The Padres fan base is as jaded and broken as I can ever remember. Let’s hope the Padres do not become the Expos, and fade into obscurity. For what it is worth, I miss Youppi.

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