We all come for different reasons.
Baseball fans are generally a different breed than most. They tend to be overly passionate about a game played with four bases situated 90 feet apart in a diamond. There is no hard hitting of each other in shoulders and heads. No fancy video displays between quarters where performers jump over fire or dazzle with other death-defying stunts. No clock. In fact the game can be incredibly slow even to the greatest of fans.
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Yet we keep coming back to it, don’t we? The game hasn’t changed much in over 100 years. Sure, the new stadiums are fancier, the uniforms more colorful, and the players might wear more jewelery than in the early days. The basics though are the same. It is an individual battle between the pitcher and the batter – played out in nine batting order spots over nine innings, with three outs needed per side.
Yet baseball has its way of winning us back, time after time. There have been work stoppages, game fixes, gamblers and cheats, and yet baseball remains as more than just a game.
This week was one of the most exciting Winter Meetings in history – and for Padres fans especially the team seems to be on an upswing with renewed front office momentum if not yet on-field performance. Who knows how many fans in San Diego will say they really became a Padres fan the day the team acquired Matt Kemp?
How many wishy-washy Dodgers fans will now leave their Dodgers allegiance to follow the Swinging Friar? (Lucky them!)
A lot of baseball fans come from allegiance – but as I was discussing with co-editor Billy Brost one night – for many of us the blood runs deeper than just geography.
For me, it started with a player: Terry Pendleton. I was living in Oxnard and playing 3rd base. Terry was also from Oxnard and played 3rd base. An All-Star coach I played for took us to a Dodgers-Braves game and I got to meet Terry along the base-line before the game. Sold! Of course the Braves would end up winning the NL West that year, Terry would win the MVP Award, and the Braves would go on to win 14 consecutive division titles.
As I moved to the Central Valley of CA, there was no pro baseball team nearby so the Braves being on TBS helped me follow along with my new favorite team. I also appreciated watching their Hall of Fame Trio of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine as I also pitched and modeled myself after John Smoltz.
Then, as I moved to college, the Padres were the game in town and I was so excited to be able to go to an MLB game, even if it was in dumpy Jack Murphy Stadium. I was able to see Tony Gwynn play in some of his last games and even watch Barry Bonds launch a homer or two during his own record-breaking season.
The more games I went to and felt apart of San Diego, the more I wanted to make the Padres my own. I watched as new Petco Park went up, and the more games I went to the more I fell in love with the Padres. Over the last two seasons, I was a quarter-season ticket holder and was able to go to about 25 games a season in person, and see many moments that cemented myself as a Padres fan. I grieved when Holliday missed home plate in ’07 and watched with baited breath the final weekend of the 2010 regular season.
Some people don’t get how I can like two teams. My Padres Passion was recently put into further question as I moved away from San Diego to OREGON, but I will remain an ardent supporter of the Friars and can’t wait for their resurgence into a NL West powerhouse!
So now it’s your turn – why do you like the Padres?