I’ve written in the past that there is no real rivalry between the Dodgers and Padres, at least not in the eyes of the Dodgers fans, players, ownership and the entire city of Los Angeles. However, if you’re from San Diego every time you think about the Dodgers you get this odd feeling of disgust not unlike the feeling one gets after eating a fourth donut. But, it’s a relaxed rivalry, one that almost never insights riots or fights or even spite. It’s just…a rivalry. It’s not on par or even close to that of Red Sox/Yankees or Cardinals/Cubs. Neither the Dodgers nor Padres really make decisions with the other in mind. Although it’s extremely rare to see a trade between the clubs, that has more to do with the belief that it’s not smart to trade within your division, rather than any organizational rift. We haven’t ever been embroiled in a free agent battle, and only a few times in the past forty years have found ourselves in a two-team pennant race. We don’t really steal players from them and they don’t steal from us. Steve Garvey left the Dodgers for the Padres, but that had more to do with the amount of single woman in San Diego more than anything else. Kevin Brown ditched us for the Dodger Blue, but he drew ire for lying about why he was leaving San Diego – the fact he ended up in LA just threw gas on the proverbial fire. No one mourned the lost services of Josh Bard or Tony Gwynn, Jr. or Aaron Harang or even Chris Gwynn.
So, why does the site of Adrian Gonzalez in a Dodgers uniform elicit the same feeling I get when I stub my toe: anger, frustration, and indescribable pain that ends in a quick notion of vomit.
To really understand, we have to revisit some feelings we were just starting to forget…
We let him go. We traded Adrian Gonzalez. And, I do in fact mean ‘we’. From 2006-2010 we had one of the best pure hitters in Baseball. Adrian even supplied us with a couple improbable pennant runs and even more improbable media attention. He was our homegrown superstar that seemingly loved playing here and ‘we’, as fans, could barely show up to support him. Why would he not chase a bigger market, where the city cares and money flows because of it? He had to. He had to see what else was out there and the crazy thing is: none of us blamed him. We all understood his desire to win a ring and that that was never going to happen in San Diego. We collectively gave up on Adrian and ourselves at the exact same time. It’s like we were dating the hottest girl in high school and decided we should break up because she was going to college; then the moment she left we started dating Orlando Hudson to cover the pain. We had a lot to get over and a lot of baggage to let go. By the time Anthony Rizzo hit the Bigs we had been so broken down we almost begged him to be good, although we all knew he wasn’t going to be. Not for us anyway. We put our Friar faith in players looking for redemption and who viewed San Diego as one more stop along the way. As with all breakups, things were only going to get worse, until they got better.
I, and I dare speak for the rest of the fans but I’m going to anyway, feel like things were just beginning to turn the corner. We had just stopped locking ourselves in our bedrooms refusing to consume anything other than whiskey and cupcakes (we all grieve in our own way). We had just opened the shades for the first time in a year and our darkened eyes finally began to adjust to the light of a new day. We understood that Yonder Alonso was not going to be the next A-Gonz, but that was OK. We stopped holding onto the hope A-Gonz would walk back into town and embrace us once again. He was gone and although it was still rough, it was starting to be okay now, everything is going to be…WHAT THE F@*K?! Adrian is a what? A WHAT?!
But, wait a minute – he was gone! He was on the other side of the continent! In a different league, different division, different tax bracket! Unless we subscribed to some special cable service we didn’t have to watch him! We didn’t have to see how well or poorly he was playing for the new Evil Empire. Out of sight, out of mind! You promised! We had wished him well. “I hope he wins a World Series!” some would say. “He was a real Padre!” others yelled! We didn’t have to see what had become of our past love. Now, he’s back? Not only back in the National League, but back in the same division only (depending on traffic) two to eight hours away! We have to pitch to him. Try to get him out, walk him, and worst of all watch him roam the halls and caverns of PETCO with the words ‘Los Angeles’ stitched across his jersey. It’s like that girl you broke up with so she could go to college is back in town for her first summer break. But, now she completely ignores you and starts dating your neighbor, who says he works in movies, but in reality is a 50-year old creep with a new car, a mirror over his bed and a signed copy of Turner & Hooch.*
We all let Adrian go but, now…now we can’t root for him. We can give him his due when he comes up to bat for the first time at PETCO, but after that – he’s a Dodger. He’s not welcome here, and until he switches teams or retires Adrian Gonzalez is our rival. It doesn’t help that he’s signed for about five more years, and unless he stinks up Chavez Ravine, which stinks enough on it’s own, he’ll end up a Dodger the entire time.
Yea, it sucks. Obviously it wasn’t his choice, so if your comment includes that argument I’ll know you only read the first half of this post. I don’t think Adrian did this to hurt San Diego, or to spite us, or anything like that. His relocation was completely out of his hands. It doesn’t matter why or how or what’s gonna happen next, because whatever it is it’s gonna include me having to watch my old flame score with my nemesis about 16 times a year. And that my dear friends stings – just a little.
*Yes, there were about six Magic Johnson jokes that I typed and deleted in short order.
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