During September's Social Summit, Padres President Mike Dee confessed that he'd never seen Star Wars. It's really time for him to rectify that situation, and not just because The Force Awakens hits theaters this Friday. There are valuable lessons the franchise could learn from even the worst of the six films.
The Empire built the Death Star to be, in the words of Admiral Motti, "the ultimate power in the universe." But they focused so much on the offensive power of their technological terror that they left a womp rat-sized hole in their defenses that let one kid from the sticks destroy it in a single blow.
A.J. Preller brought some big bats to San Diego in 2015, but an outfield manned by Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp had holes far larger than a womp rat. Hopefully in the coming years, Preller will find a better balance between offense and defense. Maybe something along the lines of a Star Destroyer or Mon Calamari Cruiser.
Don't invest in prospects too early
When Qui-Gon Jinn found a young Anakin Skywalker on a backwater planet, he thought he was a child of prophecy, and Obi-Wan Kenobi believed in his master. So even though Anakin was too old to train by the Jedis' usual standards, Obi-Wan took Anakin on as his apprentice. But that backfired on not just him, but the entire Jedi Order when Anakin fell to the Dark Side and became the Sith Lord known as Darth Vader.
The Padres never produced their own Dark Lord of the Sith, but they have put a little too much faith in some of their younger players. The extensions given to Cameron Maybin and Jedd Gyorko didn't cripple the organization, but they ended up limiting their flexibility in exchange for a few years of limited and inconsistent production.
But don't pass up a longshot
That's not to say risks aren't worth taking. In their darkest hour, Yoda and Obi-Wan put all their faith in Luke Skywalker (though there was another), and it paid off big time. Luke wasn't what you would call a first round draft pick, but he was exactly what the Light Side and the Rebel Alliance needed. With Yoda's training, he fought his father to a standstill before bringing him back from the Dark Side and ending the Emperor for good.
So while the Padres might have been burned by the Maybin and Gyorko contracts, they shouldn't get gun-shy about extending young talent. Don't rush into it, but don't discount the payoff other teams have gotten from locking up hot players while they're still controllable. Myers couldn't stick in Kansas City or Tampa Bay, and he had trouble last year, but there may still be a Jedi Knight in him yet.
The Jedi Mind Trick only works on the weak minded
As Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke in A New Hope, "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded." It's easy to pull the wool over some peoples' eyes (stormtroopers, Gamorrean guards, Dodger fans, etc.). But a wise Jedi knows when he's found out.
There's been times when certain members of the Padres have believed that their powers of charm and charisma could be used to bend the will of fans, but they know what droids their looking for. When Luke's attempt to use the Jedi Mind Trick on Jabba the Hutt fails he admits his true reason for the visit and offers a straight forward deal for Solo and Chewbacca. Jabba still tries to execute Luke, but Padres fans aren't Hutt crime lords. They're a bit more likely to give the front office a pass if they play it straight.
Don't mess with a good thing
Ever since the release of the original Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas has been fiddling with it. The biggest changes came in 1997 when the Special Edition cuts hit theaters, bringing with them a slew of fancy (but out of place) computer generated effects. But he didn't stop there. Every subsequent re-release has featured more changes, none of them for the better. Between the release of Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, the biggest moment in Star Wars fandom was when the original cuts of the first three films were released on DVD.
The Padres have seen a similar problem, as their brand has moved from the distinctive colors and designs of the 70s and 80s into the generic blues they wore through 2015. They could learn from Lucas's mistakes by not tinkering with things that aren't broken. Bringing back brown is the San Diego version of acknowledging that Han shot first. If they follow through with their bold new look, they could pull off a J.J. Abrams and bring back old fans and a whole new generation of Friar faithful.