As part of celebrating 10 years of Gaslamp Ball last February 14, most of us on the staff shared 10 of our favorite GLB moments from the previous decade. I actually started my draft in mid-January, but never finished it because my life was in utter chaos. Now that another year has passed, and I'm enjoying stability that allows me to finish things I start, I thought I'd complete my list and update it for the eleventh anniversary of my favorite site in the history of sites.
Although this is from 2010, this sort of goofiness is what made me fall in love with Gaslamp Ball in the first place way back in early 2007. After a game, Dex requested - for reasons unbeknownst to me - that someone good at photo manipulation digitally swap Bob Scanlan and John Weisbarth's hairdos. Commenter Grey Suit came through, and the results were wonderful. He also did a swap of Mark Grant and Dick Enberg, which was slightly unsettling. Both Weisbarth and Scanlan enjoyed it thoroughly. At this point Scan had already been a commenter for some time, occasionally contributing FanPosts; he eventually wound up doing game-recap commentary videos for the site for a while.
10. The Mentor
Former Padres President and CEO Tom Garfinkel joined the franchise in early 2009, and took a liking to Dex and jbox early on. It wasn't just a put-on to curry favor with "new media"; he's a genuinely nice guy who seemed to appreciate them for many of the same reasons the rest of us do. Like Scanlan, he would pop up in the comments section every now and then, but more notably he would always make time for them and other Gaslamp Ballers out at the ol' ballyard and at team-related functions. I had forgotten exactly how he got the nickname he still gets referred to as around these parts, but found it in a post from April, 2010.
You may recall that shortly after joining the team, Garfinkel declared San Diego a "breakfast town", and received a decent bit of ribbing for it (man of a great sense of humor that he is, he took it all in stride and, in fact, continues to to this day). So naturally, one of his crowning moments involved breakfast. On the day of Trevor Hoffman's number retirement ceremony, Garfinkel put together an exclusive pre-pregame breakfast for Gaslamp Ballers, and presented those in attendance with updated versions of the classic Gaslamp Ball retired numbers shirt, complete with Trevor's 51.
If you are not familiar with this, just go read that and its entire comments section. I cannot do it justice, but just know that it involves tons of Dodger lovers getting worked up and throwing an absolute fit over something completely inconsequential, then failing to comprehend the most basic reasoning even after it is spelled out to them dozens of times. That whole incident is a gift that keeps on giving, and one comment in particular by Dex makes me laugh until I tear up every time I think of it.
8. Jayson Werth's dad
Back before Gaslamp Ball, Dex and jbox had another Padres blog, Padres Fans Since '76, and on that blog Dex once wrote about why he hated Jayson Werth, all stemming back to an instance of Werth being an arrogant jerk to Padres fans during a game in his rookie season. Fast forward to 2007, and someone by the name of Dustin Downs came across that old post and left a typo-laden comment in defense of Werth, which Dex then made a GLB post about, titled "Jayson Werth has sensitive fans". A couple months after Downs' defense, another commenter showed up to dis Dex on Werth's behalf. This time it was Werth's biological father.
Werth's father, Jeffrey Jay Gowan, opened by saying "I think YOU'RE the one that is probably gay, or at least homophobic!" and it went either uphill or downhill from there, depending on your perspective. With enough typos to make Dustin Downs look halfway intelligent in comparison, Gowan went on to implore Dex to "shut your big YAPPER" before suggesting that Dex lives at home, where he hides behind his mother's dress. It was magnificently ridiculous. Then, a couple months after that, yet another Werth fan chimed in, but it was nowhere near as amusing as Gowan's rambling, randomly CAPITALIZED screed in defense of the son he Googled who chose to take his stepfather's name. I still think of all of this whenever I see Jayson Werth, his stupid beard, and dead eyes.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jersey was such an amazing and ambitious project. It all started with a jersey worn by Dave Staton, acquired by Jonny Dub at the annual Fan Fest garage sale, which then made its way to numerous countries and a great deal of the states in this union, picking up patches and stories at every stop. My time with the jersey was borderline disastrous - in fact, I finally just got around to paying my ridiculous $240 fine last week - but my best friend enjoyed her time with it, and I relished reading everyone else's adventures.
6. The Craig Stimac comment
In the time that I've been writing for this site I love so much, I've received a lot of really gratifying feedback in many forms. Getting tweets or comments from players I've written about or their family members never gets old, and it was quite a shock to get an informative email from Sarah Silverman's dad after I published a quick post about her wearing an old-school Padres jersey, for one odd example. But all of that pales next to a comment a reader left on what I thought was a throwaway post of interest to no one but me.
Several years ago I voiced a concern to jbox that some things I considered writing about wouldn't be interesting to very many people. He gave me some of the best advice I've ever received, advice that has stuck with me ever since. He told me to go ahead and write it if even only one person would care about it - and that one person could be me. With that in mind, I carried on with churning out niche baseball card posts, pieces about forgotten Friars on their birthday, and more of the sort. One of these was about Craig Stimac, who played his only 29 games in the majors for the Padres in 1980 and '81 before taking his game abroad and becoming a megastar in Italy, where he continued to live until taking his life in 2009. The day after I put it on the site, I was blown away by what greeted me in the comments section:
This sport is magic, indeed. And so is Gaslamp Ball. Without this site and the freedom that his advice afforded me, that never would have happened. It's not that I did anything; if not for this site, I would have still looked up that information about Stimac, but not shared it with anyone. But this comment in particular bolstered my belief that if you can impact one person, that's reason enough to put it out there. Since then, that lesson has shaped me, not just in regards to blogging about baseball, but concerning life in general. As some of you know, I'm a grateful recovering alcoholic, and I am rather candid about both my triumphs and struggles. That openness stems back to what he told me and what this comment reinforced: You never know when what seems insignificant to you could be very significant to someone else. If one person's day is made by reading about their favorite obscure player, it's all worth it. If one person who is going through a similar life situation can take something from what I've gone through, it's all worth it. And taking into account that helping others and being accessible is a major part of what keeps me sober every day, it's safe to say without hesitation that Gaslamp Ball, and this lesson it taught me, saved my life.
One day in August, 2014, the Padres had the evening off, so I made a game thread for that night's Chihuahuas game. El Paso broadcaster Tim Hagerty spotted the post and gave Gaslamp Ball a couple shout-outs over the first few innings. That in and of itself would have been cool enough, but he followed along with our comments in the open thread as the game went along, noted our approval of their bump music, and extended an on-air invitation for us to submit some song selections in the comments section. We thought they might pick one or maybe two, but they kept coming through for the rest of the game, playing eight of the songs we requested. Coincidentally, at the exact time this was happening, Gaslamp Ball was getting some more love over on another medium of media: Keith Olbermann quoted and credited GLB in a segment about BS Plaza on his ESPN program.
Back in June of 2012, when Gaslamp Ball was seven years old and I'd been checking the site obsessively numerous times a day for five of those years (well, except for that stretch of the 2008 season I spent "wandering the earth like Caine from Kung Fu"), I read the above-linked post by Dex and thought nothing much of it at the time. I didn't realize it would have any direct impact on me, and I certainly didn't think I'd be reflecting on it a few years later. In the post, Dex touched on Gaslamp Ball history to that point and announced that a few familiar names would be joining the core four on the masthead.
We are at the point now though where we are looking to take another step at making Gaslamp Ball better. As you've all noticed, jodes has been handling the Game Day Threads and we've also, just this morning, added Wonko to the masthead. More may be on the way.
It did not cross my mind even once that I was part of aforementioned "More" or that I was "on the way" until Dex asked me in the comments if I had checked my email lately. I hadn't, but I did then, and what I found rendered me shocked and honored beyond words. That these guys whose work I love so much would deem li'l ol' me and my words worthy of front page status meant the world to me then and still means the world to me now
3. The world's first sports blog tattoo?
Not long after I got my Gaslamp Ball unicorn tattoo finished in May of 2009, Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew caught wind of it and, after a bit of research, determined that it might be the world's first sports blog tattoo. Whether or not it actually is the first (It can't be, right?), BLS declared my ridiculous tribute to be a First-ballot Hall of Famer, the highest honor bestowed in their Fashion Ump series of columns. I first found out about the Big League Stew post from a friend who noticed it on the front page of Yahoo when he went to check his email, and then immediately called me. That was a cool phone call to wake up to, and I got a few more calls and texts of that nature throughout the day; it somehow made it a lot neater to me that people I actually know spotted it without looking for it or me telling them about it.
I had been a Gaslamp Baller for less than half a year when I was given the coolest birthday present ever. I'd complained the night before that my birthday fell on an off-day, so the next day Sammy G set up a game thread and posted lineups. For the next several hours, a bevy of GLBers joined in to make up the play-by-play. Tony Gwynn and Joey Cora came out of retirement for a 13-0 win over the Dodgers which featured both the first cycle and the first no-hitter in team history.
A little over a year ago, jbox sent me the greatest present anyone has ever given anyone. I am still in awe. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please go check that out; it will give you some insight into how amazing the wonderful people who made this site happen are. Like you didn't know already.
There are so, so many more great moments and posts, and I feel like I'm doing a disservice by omitting a slew of deserving gems, but these were the first 11 that came to mind. I'll share and link some more in the comments section, and I implore you to do the same.