To say this Padres season has to this point been disappointing would be an understatement. To say it’s been unexpected would be naïve. However, this season has brought two storylines to the forefront of media coverage and it’s starting to make me crazy. Whether, it’s lack of interest in the actual team we field or someone somewhere feels these things need to be addressed, it seems no one can stop talking about the fences being moved in and our terrible TV contract. So, let me try my best to shed some perspective on these issues in the hopes that we can go back to actually worrying about the product.
We’ll start with the The Fences:
Gone are the days of Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko staring into the owner’s box after one of their hard hit fly balls landed short of the stands and into the glove of an opposing fielder. And what boring and ridiculous days those were. In 2004 we were promised a higher payroll to go with our taxpayer-funded ballpark, which would translate into a winning team. We kind of got that. But, what we really got were whining (read: fading) sluggers who saw their careers ending a bit too quickly. So, naturally all anyone could talk about during the first few years of Petco Park wasn’t the team, it was the fences and how if we just moved them in we could become the 1980’s Oakland A’s! Instead of focusing on building a team of speedy players who could field and get on base anyway they could, we went out and signed Mike Piazza. When people like Cole Hamels come to town and tell you why the Phillies win in Petco our management should be listening, instead of name-calling. Hamels basically said the reason they win in San Diego is by playing a style of Baseball that the Padres seemed to have accidentally stumbled into playing in 2010 – when we were starting guys like Scott Hairston and David Eckstein. Guys that got on base anyway they could, were clutch and could field. We don’t need sluggers we need Baseball players. Anytime someone suggests we move the fences in I like to point out a game just like the one we lost to the Brewers last Monday. Ryan Braun hit three homeruns! Three! And the Brewers won the game! Which means two things happened in Petco that the Padres swear are almost impossible with our fences where they are. Someone hit homeruns and someone won a game. WHHHHAAAATT??? Yea, it’s very possible to hit a homerun at Petco and some team wins every game there, it’s just not often the team we root for. Do we want to move the fences in so guys like Ryan Braun can hit five homeruns in a game? In fact, since Petco opened in 2004 it’s only been ranked last three times in homeruns-per-game (2004, 2005 & 2008), but what’s more glaringly depressing is Petco has ranked last or second-to-last in hits-per-game five times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)! Looking at those numbers should we also be asking the other teams to drop a fielder? Maybe we could suggest the opposing team play without gloves? Who cares if we can’t hit homeruns, we can’t even hit the ball! If you think moving the fences in will solve our problems then you’re insane, because we’ll just start losing games 8-5 instead of 2-1. Our relievers will become mortal and starters will become exposed. Until our team can learn how to string three hits together fences and homeruns are a meaningless extravagance we don’t deserve. Coffee is for closers.
Next up is this TV issue:
To steal a line from a great film, The San Diego Padres TV contract is like a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. We had the FOX deal, then we didn’t, then we did, but we couldn’t spend any money from it, but we could, but then the deal died. Then it didn’t.
I like most Padres fans love to watch games from the comfort of my home, which offers the cheapest beer prices in the league. I like Mark Grant, I like Enberg and I think Sweeney and the hot chick do fine. In fact I can watch the games now, even though I don’t have COX. That in itself is a victory. I even walked in to my favorite bar the other day and for the first time in twelve years they were able to show a normal Padres game. It was glorious. I got to sit down, drink a beer with friends and be loud about my team. However, I’m well aware that at least 42% of the county can’t watch the games. They have no access, and yes that sucks. Honestly, if the 42% could see how this team is playing I don’t think they’d be so upset they couldn’t right now. The TV deal needs to be reworked. It’s an essential part of running a team in this day and age. People need access to their team and it’s our management’s job to supply that. However, what most fans need to remember is that we currently have an owner who has a big sticker on his office door that reads, “I’d rather be doing anything else.” Until we figure out who is going to run this organization we will be stuck in terrible TV turmoil. My personal feeling is we need to solve the Internet issue before the TV issue. We can’t watch our games anywhere online. If you live within 130 miles of San Diego you are blacked out on MLB.tv, which makes absolutely zero sense. You really think because you blacked out the game in Whittier those people will drive down to watch it live? No. They won’t. They’ll just stop watching and become Anaheim fans. They need to lift this ridiculous local black out rule, especially since half the county is already blacked out.
This team has a lot of issues to deal with. Maybe too many, but it has to start somewhere. Leave the fences where they are and focus on rebuilding the product. Get fans back to the park, find a suitable owner, make the team accessible and for Tony’s sake bring back the old garlic fries.