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That time I was in The Times

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We've already seen Gaslamp Ball get a national media shout out with a mention in this week's Sports Illustrated. Now we can add The New York Times to the collective GLB resume.

A couple days ago I got an email from Benjamin Hoffman, a sports writer for The New York Times. He told me he was working on a story about the Padres for the Saturday paper and wanted to ask me some questions about the season, the mood among Padres fans, and the future of the team. Geoffrey Hancock, aka Left Coast Bias of Padres Public fame, was also interviewed for the piece, as well as Everth Cabrera.

The point of the article, as Hoffman ensured me in his email, wasn't to pick on the Padres or the fans, but to try to get a better understanding of what the team is experiencing this season, which he referred to as a "unique struggle." He felt that there was no better way to do so than to see things through the eyes of those who watch the Padres closely. I appreciated that sentiment, especially since it's become entirely too easy and/or trendy to simply bag on our team for their poor performances, particularly for outsiders who don't follow the Padres regularly. Too many times I've been asked by fans of other ballclubs why I still follow a team who plays so badly and who rarely gives me anything to cheer about, and it was nice that someone wanted to get inside the mind of Padres fans and see our perspective rather than just calling us crazy and insulting the team we choose to root for.

The story went up online last night and ran nationally in today's print edition of the NYT.

My favorite part is when Hoffman talks about the "we ruin everything" meme that originated right here on Gaslamp Ball. I got a little giddy when he referenced one of my tweets in the list of questions he sent me and took the opportunity to explain the meaning behind the phrase (though I did refrain from telling my whole story about Clayton Kershaw and the 2011 SB Nation Cy Young Award vote).

As expected, a vast majority of the answers Geoff and I gave didn't make the article, especially after it was trimmed down for the paper. So I thought I would share the rest of the questions and answers for you guys to read:

The Padres, on offense, are one of the worst teams in major league history, if not the worst, when compared to the league average. Does it feel that bad? Or has the good pitching mitigated the desperation some?

The pitching definitely helps ease the pain a bit. But at the same time it can also make things feel worse, because it's one thing to lose when the whole team is off. It's another thing to keep losing despite having arguably one of the best pitching staffs in the league. It's rough seeing, for example, a guy like Tyson Ross go out and have so many dominating performances with nothing to show for it because the offense can't even get him one run of support in a game. The offense is so bad so much of the time that pitchers basically need to be perfect to have any chance of getting a win. And a lot of times they're near perfect, but one mistake can cost them the game and that doesn't feel good at all. So it's bittersweet having the pitching staff perform so well, because so often their effort is all for naught.

On a nightly basis, does it get harder and harder to watch as they struggle or is there any entertainment in the futility?

I'm actually one of the more optimistic/positive fans I know, and I just love baseball so I'll always find it entertaining and I'll always watch games no matter how badly the team is doing. I know a lot of fans are just so frustrated right now, however, that they find it hard to watch games night after night. This is especially true when the team gets on losing streaks. For a lot of people it just stops being fun and becomes pointless to watch games on a nightly basis.

Is there a camaraderie among Padres fans and bloggers in watching a team struggle like this? Has it been better or worse than in past years where the team was more competitive?

I would definitely say there's a camaraderie among fans and bloggers, especially in this day and age when we're all so connected through our blogs and through social media. For those of us who do still continue to watch the Padres every night, it's definitely easier to do so when we can all talk about it in real time and share in all the ups and downs together. Of course, winning makes everything better, and this is no exception. Sometimes we spend too much time arguing with each other about what's wrong with the team and how it should be fixed. When the team is winning, there isn't so much bickering. I remember in 2010 when the Padres spent most of the season on top of the division and everyone was just so happy all the time. There is, however, something to be said for times like now when the team is struggling and we all have each other to lean on.

Is the team likable even as they struggle? Do you find yourself feeling bad for them?

I think for people who watch them on a regular basis, they are. The players themselves are likeable, which makes it easier to root for them despite some poor performances. Like I talked about before with the pitchers, you do feel bad for them more often than the other players because the bad offense overshadows their great pitching. However, I can't say the same for the front office. The new owners and president have yet to prove themselves worthy of Padres fans' affections. They've done a lot to push fans away this year and in a lot of ways it doesn't feel like they care about what we have to say. Some of their actions off the field have put a sour taste in the mouths of Padres fans, so in that regard the organization as a whole isn't so likeable.

You had a great tweet about how breaking up Kershaw's scoreless streak was another case of the team ruining everything. What was it like to watch a great pitcher like that just crushing your team? Was there any part of you hoping the streak would continue?

This is a funny story because "we ruin everything" is actually kind of an inside joke on Gaslamp Ball from years ago. It started in 2009 I think, when the Padres were going on a bit of a tear toward the end of the season and even though they were well out of the reach of the playoffs, they continued to make things difficult for those who were in the race. The Dodgers, for instance, came to Petco Park for a series and needed one win to clinch the division. They had champagne on ice in the locker room from game one of that series, but ended up getting swept, so they had to stave off their celebrations until after they left San Diego. Since then, we've used "we ruin everything" to refer to the Padres having a knack of coming out of nowhere to take good moments away from other teams, even when they're not doing so well themselves (i.e. breaking up Kershaw's scoreless streak despite having one of the worst offenses ever). It wasn't really surprising to anyone to see Kershaw crushing the Padres. No part of me wanted the Padres to come out scoreless, so I can honestly say I wasn't hoping the streak would continue and I'm pretty proud that a Padre was the one to end it.

When I say the name Jedd Gyorko, you think?

This might be the hardest question to answer. Gyorko has had two extremely different seasons in the major leagues. He was so promising last year and quickly became a fan favorite. But this year he struggled a lot and is now being hampered by injury. So when I hear Jedd Gyorko, nothing really comes to mind because it's like we've seen two very different sides of him and it's hard to know for sure which is a more accurate representation of him as a player.

One of the other contenders for worst hitting team ever was the 1963 Houston Colt 45s. That team was brutal but had two 19-year-olds who were future stars: Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub. When you look at the current team do you see any future stars or does it seem like a team heading nowhere?

A lot of Padres fans would agree that it seems like the team is perpetually looking towards the future. Right now we have a pretty stacked farm system and a lot of prospects who, if all goes well, will be raking by the time they get to the big leagues and leading the Padres to a World Series in the coming years. As for the current big league roster, I can definitely see glimpses of hope for the future. Jesse Hahn has really stepped up lately since he joined the rotation. In the absence of our ace, Andrew Cashner, it's really refreshing to see Hahn pitch so well and take advantage of the opportunity he's been given. The same goes for Odrisamer Despaigne, who isn't exactly they youngest guy, but he's new to MLB. Both Hahn and Despaigne have been big surprises (in a good way) and sources of hope. I can also see Tommy Medica growing as a player and having the potential to be a big contributor in years to come. So there are definitely some possible future stars both at the big league level and working their way up in the minors.

If the team trades some of its veterans, like Headley, Street, Maybin, etc., do you think the team will be harder to watch? Or would a commitment to winning in the future be satisfying to you?

On the contrary, I think trading away some of the veterans on the team and making room for some of the younger guys to get more chances might actually make the team easier to watch. I think most fans would be happy to see one or more of those guys get traded if we could get some young talent in return. I think Headley should have already been traded by now. Street has been a fantastic closer for the Padres and I love him as a player, but I wouldn't be mad if a good deal was made to trade him with another team because I think we have guys in the system who could take his place.

They pick you to be the new GM of the club. What's your first move?

I'd actually probably start with trading one of those veteran pieces pieces. If I could get a decent haul for Headley, that would definitely be my first move. Although someone like Street might be a better trading chip right now, so depending on the kinds of packages I could get I would definitely try to get a deal made for one of those players.

TL;DR, but the gist is that the Padres suck right now but they won't always, and I'll love and watch them no matter what and so will a lot of other people. KTF, friends!

By the way, Geoff and I answered and sent back those questions on Thursday night. Since then, the Padres have scored a combined ten runs through two games.

Not to mention the nice package of players we got back in the Huston Street trade. I'm just saying.