Monthly Archives: May 2013
Let me explain. I root, root-root for the home teams—as in two. Born in Boston, my childhood days were spent glued to our tiny TV set in the mid-to-late Fifties, idolizing an aging, yet still splendid Ted Williams, my childhood hero. Outfielders Jackie Jensen and Jimmy Piersall were also favorites. Hall of Fame sportscaster Curt Gowdy was the crisp voice of the Boston Red Sox.
In 1960, our family moved to San Diego. Coincidentally, Williams was born, raised, and, while still in high school, began playing for the AAA Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres before signing with the Sox.
Millions of baseball fans follow multiple teams. Some are also transplants, native to one Major League city, then moving to another MLB town where the team grows on you. Or fans cheer on a team their transplanted parent(s) grew up with or their significant other persuades them to support yet another team.
If lucky, your teams are often contenders. Or perhaps you find yourself stuck in schizophrenic situation similar to mine. Maybe you were born in St. Louis, San Francisco or New York, and now find yourself now living in Chicago, Pittsburgh or Houston. And depending on when the notorious Miami Marlins fire sales are conducted, this franchise also makes the loser list.
Of course, the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are each blessed with two teams, while the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s are only about a 30-minute drive from one another. No doubt multitudes of fans residing in these giant metropolises often feel torn between two lovers. But what about those rare seasons when both of their hometown clubs contend? Color me envious.
In its 44th year of existence, the perennial loser Padres franchise is even harder to swallow. Padre fans absolutely abhor the “small market” excuse that the various ownership groups rely on to continue their cheap ways. For at least the past 20 years, San Diego has ranked as one of the ten most populated cities in the nation.
In the early Seventies, I kept reminding myself that expansion teams take a while to develop into contenders. Well, other than the ballclub’s pathetic World Series performances in 1984 and 1998, the Pads have generally sucked.
On the bright side, there were a few great players starring on Padre losing teams that kept us thrilled. Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn quickly come to mind. And closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman will likely be inducted into the famed Hall in 2015. Sinker ball phenom Randy Jones was also a favorite. Unfortunately for Randy, the Cy Young Award winner pitched for the Pads in the Seventies, when those teams were downright embarrassing.
Thankfully, there are exciting moments during virtually all ballgames that bring us to our feet to either cheer or boo. Happens at every MLB ballpark.
As for the Padres this season? As of May 8, they have won 11 of their last 14, after a dismal 5 and 15 start of the season. Now, the Pads are hitting, throughout the line-up. Nevertheless, the San Diego squads have teased us, decade after decade. Starting pitching is currently the main concern, but that story is for another time.
Meanwhile, I take solace in my Sox. The overhauled Boston club is kicking butt in the American League, on top of the east division, making last year’s unusually pathetic performance a distant memory. How pathetic was Boston? They finished 2012 with the worst record in the Majors, losing a whopping 93 games! Ever think that would ever happen?
On the other hand, we are less than two months into the 2013 season.
Yes, I admit to being a quasi-diehard San Diego Padres fan throughout my adulthood. Feel sorry for me. All of the owners since Ray and Joan Kroc have been cheapskates, specializing in fire sales. And recently, we had an owner who was forced to sell because he apparently couldn’t afford to keep the team.
Some good news: I continue to be a proud Boston Red Sox fan, having cheered them on since the age of seven. Rejoice. At least the Sox aren’t shy about spending player payroll. In fact, Sox management sometimes spends too much money on the wrong players. The team may not always come out on top, but they sure make it interesting, year after year. 2004 was magical.
In 2007, my beloved BoSox invaded Petco Park in San Diego. Made sure to attend one of the games in that three-game series. Not surprisingly, the always-rabid Red Sox fans out-cheered the laid back Padre fans. Even though the sun-soaked San Diegans made more noise than usual, they couldn’t come close to the continuous chants and rousing applause of Sox supporters.
Boston took two out of three that year. Fast forward to July 2, 2013, when the Padres and Sox start a three-game series at Fenway. Highly doubtful Padre fans will make their presence known, save for a Padre blue ball cap or two. During July, Padre fans will hope to God that third baseman Chase Headley is still a member of the team. He’s a free agent at the end of this season.
Come July, the Red Sox will likely remain positioned well for the playoffs, and might even be in the process of acquiring a top talent or two for the stretch run.
So it goes..,