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Seeking enlightenment in Padreland

Last night’s loss drops team into all-too-familiar territory

San Diego Padres v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Routines are important.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that maintaining happiness is a lot easier when you have established, sustainable routines that help you get through the day.

For some people, it’s coffee and a quiet moment at a local coffee shop. For others, it’s a moment of reflection at sunset, or just a bit of personal time enjoyed while walking one’s dog at the end of the day.

For me, I’ve found meditation to be one routine that helps me efficiently de-stress from life’s troubles.

Some people think of meditation as some kind of monkish practice, requiring that we sit on a pillow and chant ‘aums’ while keeping our minds entirely free of any active thought—for me, it’s a lot simpler than that.

When I want to meditate, I simply close the door to the bedroom, take up a seat on my couch, place my headphones on, fire up some ambient music, and focus on breathing into my chakras.

To be clear, I’m not sure if chakras are real. From what I’ve seen, they don’t show up on any X-ray or thermal scanning technology that I’ve ever seen, and, as far as I know, their existence is mostly unverified by western science. Still, the idea and technique goes as follows:

In chakra meditation, you focus on breathing into certain parts of my body—areas that, according to people much more chill than myself, are something like the power centers of our minds and bodies.

The first chakra, or area, resides where the spine meets the tailbone; the second is in the groin (believed to be the seat of creativity and vitality); next is the stomach, then the heart, and so on and so forth through seven major chakras until you reach the crown of the head, an area which is said to be the ‘gateway to enlightenment’—or something.

I don’t necessarily think that this meditation routine is going to lead me into nirvana, but this relatively simple practice helps me relax, and, more importantly, helps me identify areas of my body where I am holding stress. After 10-20 minutes of meditating this way, I usually emerge feeling much more clear-eyed, loose, and ready for what the day might bring.

Unfortunately, something unpleasant interrupted my routine this morning. Last night, the Padres, my favorite baseball team, lost their 90th game of the 2019 season. It really messed up my morning’s meditation.

I started as I normally do—couch, headphones, deep breath into tailbone chakra, etcetera. But as I moved my focus up to my stomach and on to my heart, the thought occurred to me—where the hell was the chakra for Padres-related agony? Certainly, there was a vague, malignant knot somewhere in my body that called out to be untied—a deep yearning somewhere within me, to see just one good Padres team take the field before climate change artificial intelligence the arrival of space aliens changes life as we know it. Was that so much to ask?

Unfortunately, last night’s loss represented a routine that, for me, predates even my meditation practice—that of ending a baseball season feeling dejected, bitter, and rather ambivalent about the direction of my favorite team. 90-loss seasons have simply become the norm in my life.

My Padres have not made the playoffs since 2006—when I was in 8th grade. Since 2008, they have lost 90 or more games in 5 separate seasons; put another way, they have posted 90-loss campaigns in 45% of the last 12 seasons. Since 2011, they have finished no higher than 3rd in the NL West.

This is to say that—for more than a decade—the Padres have been pathetic nearly more often than they have not. I, for one, am feeling hungover from these 90-loss seasons.

There will be those that say that the night is darkest before the dawn. There will be those that council just a bit more patience. And, if we’re being honest, it’s quite possible that we have gotten through the worst of it.

But I am an optimist. I looked at 2019’s Padres and, squinting through my rose-colored glasses, saw a team that would have a hard time winning fewer than 80 games.

I remember the Spring like it was yesterday. I remember how much I was sure of: Surely, AJ Preller was going to address the team’s 5th starter hole; Surely, Fernando Tatis Jr. was going to take the league by storm and win the Rookie of the Year award; Surely, one of Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, or Hunter Renfroe would emerge with a big year at the plate.

As is so often the case in Padre land, my optimism proved to be ill-advised. Preller shored up his rotation with some guy named Nick Margevicius, who I’m pretty sure was working in the Padres ticket sales division before being given a uniform. Tatis Jr. was sensational in an all-too-scant sample of 84 games, but, again—84 games. Nary a Hosmer, nor a Wil, nor a Renfroe did jack to write home about in 2019.

So, as September comes to a close, so does another chapter of Padres futility. We had hopes, we had dreams, we had rationale—or at least we had the ability to rationalize.

Once again, we pack away those Spring-born hopes as we head into another offseason of uncertainty—much like, I imagine, people on the East Coast pack away their summer clothes with each autumn’s arrival. I don’t know about that last metaphor, because I grew up in San Diego, and we do not have ‘seasons’.

But what we do have here in San Diego is an open manager’s seat. We have impending Spring Training battles in the outfield, rotation, and bullpen—or, better put, in about 50% of the team’s positional areas. We have a GM who will probably need to take up meditation practice to deal with the anxiety that should accompany a make-or-break offseason.

Then again, that’s just me. Maybe, if I try really, really hard, I can find a hidden Padre chakra within me, which I might find the strength to cleanse. Maybe that is the last barrier to my enlightenment.

If I can only find that chakra, I will report back to you, and we might all be freed—maybe even happy!—in some distant, distant, distant... future.