About once a month I'll hear from jbox on how I need to post more on this blog. I always tell him "yeah, yeah, I'll get to it." What I'm really telling him is that I need to be inspired to write about a team that has no inspiration nor offers any to its fans IMHO.
As I'm reading this article from voiceofsandiego.org, I can't help but think about why Petco isn't packed every home game. I don't buy into the idea that there is a direct correlation between a lack of hitting and a drop in fan attendance. If this is true, then San Diego should be labeled the premier fair-weather sports town. I know that hurts for many of you out there (esp Dex, jbox, JonnyDub), but the reality is that San Diego could very well be down to a single major sports franchise in the foreseeable future. My point is that the Padres organization has an obligation to this city and to the fans, not the inverse. It's not necessarily about offense or ticket prices. It's about passion. It's about leadership. And it's about establishing a history for this franchise.
When you look at teams rich with history like the Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, they sell out almost every game. In the Yankees case, you can argue that they consistently perform in their division year after year. However, until recently, you could argue that the Red Sox and Cubs were always causing their fans such heart ache by under achieving year after year. It's not that their fans are any more baseball savvy, or their teams that much better. I think there is a lot to be said about the aura around the franchise and city itself. The Padres, unfortunately, don't have this aura. I'd even argue the city, at times, lacks this aura.
Think about it, when tourists travel to San Diego, the last thing they're probably thinking about is that San Diego has a couple decent sports teams in the Padres and Chargers. In fact, just the other day while watching the NFL Draft at a local restaurant up here in my transplanted home of the Bay Area, these guys were talking about football teams in Southern California. After Matt Leinart got drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, they were discussing how that's going to be a great fit for him since there is no other football team in SoCal. Under my breath I was thinking don't forget about the Bolts. But why bother arguing.
Back to my point. In our hearts, we know the Chargers are on their way out of SD. Having said that, I think the Padres ownership, staff, and players have taken this city for granted. They got their new ballpark, and managed to keep a majority of their season ticket holders and fans along the way. Now, they're just pissing it all away. Winning the NL West with a record just north of .500 is not good enough. I don't care if they had finished in last place in 2005. There was no passion, and still is no passion with this team.
At least in the 80's and 90's (despite the playoff years in `84, '96, and `98), we had excitement and nostalgia with this team. Sure we had some down years, but we had leaders like Tony Gwynn who people admired on a national scale. We had exciting prospects in Benito Santiago throwing out guys from his knees, Roberto Alomar making acrobatic plays at second, and power hitters like Gary Sheffield. The list of ex-Padre turned superstar goes on, but at this point in time we just don't have that same level of excitement. I won't say talent, because I think this current Padres team has a lot of that. The problem is that players like Giles or Klesko HAD (and I mean to emphasize the past-tense here) their opportunity to take a leadership role on this team. They blew it.
I still remember seeing Gwynn's last home game, and during the pre-game ceremony speech he singled out Klesko and Nevin as the next leaders for this team. Enough said. Yeah, we have Trevor and he's a great player, great person, and leader within the pitching staff. But, his presence has not transcended this team. I'm sure this team has the potential to be passionate day in and day out. I'm a little less optimistic about the future leadership of this team. What I'm most concerned about is the history, or lack thereof, that this franchise is making.
To borrow a line from a fairly decent sports movie in "Remember the Titans" that could be applicable for the Padres organization... "attitude reflect leadership, captain."