Category: MLB (page 1 of 14)

Chris Cantore – TKF Pod #95

This week the guys dig into the Padres 2017 Draft. Bringing back an old segment, they each pick one of the new players and enter them into The Kept Faith Prospect Adoption Program #TKFPAP. There were a lot of high school kids picked this year, but the draft is always a crapshoot. Will AJ Preller’s scouting win out and provide waves of talent through this asset resource? It’s impossible to know right now, but that’s what faith is for! Then friend of the pod Chris Cantore from Yew! Media sits down for a fun chat about his career in radio, and his new podcast network venture. Chris explains his experience with his short lived night show on Mighty 1090 and talks about the importance of maintaining an authentic voice on the air.

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Live at The Whistlestop – TKF Pod #94

The Kept Faith recorded their first live podcast in front of real human beings. At the Whistlestop Bar in South Park, they had a fun panel including Steven Woods (Rock 105.3), Craig Elsten (Mighty 1090), and City Councilman Chris Cate. They talked about the Padres rebuild, the Gulls successful season, and the mess that looks like the end for SoccerCity. Then they went deeper into the overall pessimism that has washed over San Diego within the context of sports and tried to understand where it came from and how we can move away from it. It was a fun time had by all! TKF contributor Padres Haiku played hot jams and there were tons of laughs.

Special thanks to the Whistlestop for hosting the event and supporting other great projects in our community!

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Darren Smith – TKF Pod #93

Darren Smith from the Mighty 1090 came down to hang out with the guys and talk about what it’s like covering sports in San Diego now that the Chargers are gone and there’s an all out war taking place to fill the void left behind. With the help of VOSD’s Andy Keatts, they talk about the City Council meeting that took place on Monday and what might be coming down the pike for Mayor Faulconer. Will his legacy be determined by what unfolds in the in the next few weeks? It’s hard to say how it will all play out, but we can all agree that it has very little to do with sports and more to do with the gridlock in our city government. Then they talk about the 2017 Padres and how the front office isn’t hiding the fact that they don’t expect this team to win and are just hoping to build for the future. Will ownership have the patience to stomach several more years of this? Time will tell, but at least it won’t involve a fight with a SDSU (that is, until Aztec Football moves into Petco and overstays their welcome).

Come on down to The Whistle Stop Bar June 13th at 7:30pm for our first live podcast recording! We’ll have special guests Steven Woods, Craig Elsten, and City Councilmember Chris Cate! Also DJ Padres Haiku!

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Tanking Fun

By Nicholas McCann

My earliest experience with tanking was for a brief period in the early ‘90s at Boomers (Family Fun Center) in Clairemont. If you didn’t feel like playing mini-golf or riding the go-carts, there was an attraction available that allowed patrons to simulate a war scenario involving slow moving tanks that shot hard plastic balls. You and a partner had to climb into these puke green non-death machines and decide who would be the gunner and who would drive. If a ball was shot and hit a target censor on the body of your tank, it would stop moving. If a ball struck the censor on the gun cage above, you would lose the ability to shoot. There was no score to keep. The entire object of the game was to force other participants to have less fun.

You just had to keep tanking.

Usually, rooting for a major league baseball team is about wanting them to win from opening day through the last game of their season. Despite whatever the team has said publicly, in the clearest form of communication to their fans, the 2017 San Diego Padres have made it obvious with their roster they aren’t trying to win. Yet this year is different from past seasons that sadly started in the same direction. It’s the first time where the team has made clear its intentions and managed to create a sizable group of people who are embracing it.

For these folks who are all in on the current tank (we’ll call them Tankers), there’s an element of joy that comes out when they talk about it. It’s fun for them to bask in their own patience and rescue non-Tankers from “traditional” fandom. Is purposely bottoming out the right way for the organization to go? In baseball and in life, there are no guarantees. However, you can’t say that to a Tanker. Even though they might not express it directly, they declare with their inner glow that it’s a foregone conclusion everything will be worked out by 2020. And when pressed on this point, Tankers often will fall back on this general statement: I’m just glad the Padres finally have a direction.

With this season, the current ownership group is beginning the third act of a horrible play that could still have a happy ending. The first act started with the Seidlers and Ron Fowler buying the team. They said all the right things, but didn’t do much. The second act started with the Matt Kemp trade and ended the moment he filed his blog on the Players Tribune. In this third act of losing-now-to-win-later, the team has rebranded itself as modern and smart, but the benefit of doing it is broader than just being disciplined and seeing the long view. The team can hide behind the mistakes they made in the second act by allowing people to believe the direction of building fast and spending money was the wrong way to go on a conceptual level. There is a version of the second act that could’ve worked, but if we trash that period and dismiss it as even being a direction at all, the organization gets a pass from the mistakes they made within that frame work. Winning fast is a way to go, but the Padres were bad at it. They failed at trying to be good, and now they’re taking control of their badness. For people unabashedly on board with the new philosophy, they aren’t just adopting something that has worked for the Astros and Cubs; they are also buying a few years of not being upset at the Padres.

Back at Boomers in the early ‘90s, the tank attraction had a third party element. If you didn’t want to participate and ride a tank with a friend, you could buy a bucket of balls and shoot at the tanks from outside the netted playing zone. For a small fee you could snipe from a position of protection and contribute to ruining fun for other people. With the Padres not intending to be competitive for the foreseeable future, fans have to deal with the Tank regardless if they embrace it or not. Our rivals will be able to take shots at us. This being the case, I’ve resorted to rooting for Bud Black’s Rockies to win the NL West. This is my bit. Besides not being in LA or San Francisco, if Black is more successful outside of the Padres universe, it will support my belief that the dismal results of his era in San Diego were more complicated than who was managing the team. People laugh when I say this out loud. They know I’m deep in a tank, taking shots from all sides, and waiting for the fun to begin.

 

Follow on Twitter @Nicholas_McCann

 

Andy Keatts and Coach Lew – TKF Pod #91

This week the guys discuss the Petco Park in-game experience with Andy Keatts and Scott Lewis from VoiceofSanDiego.org. Last week the two co-hosts of the VOSD Podcast went to a game together and made certain choices that left one of them cold. Then they discuss the Padres’ $99 “5 Wins in June” deal that has some fans upset. Other organizations have a similar promotion, so are the Padres not handling it well, or are San Diego fans just using it as an excuse to spew vitriol on the Internet? Regardless, the Padres are the worst team in baseball and it’s shaping up to be a complicated summer. Goofy giveaways and some exciting young talent can only go so far to placate a fanbase that is growing tired of “rebuilding.” Later, the guys take a look at Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s legacy when it comes to sports, and the city as a whole. Could he have handled things differently to smooth over the now burgeoning SoccerCitySD vs SDSU blood war? Scott and Andy share their thoughts having covered his entire administration from beginning to end.

The Kept Faith is having its first Live Podcast at The Whistle Stop June 13th at 7:30pm! Be there!

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On Booing Weaver

Ah, yes. Let’s “boo” Jered Weaver. Let us force our opinion of him – on him. Let’s all join hands and be assholes – together. As one. Like, “the wave”, but instead of lifting our hands we purse our lips into an “o” shape and let out a noise that scared children in the 1950’s. We’ve done it! We’ve won the day! We made this pitcher feel terrible for not being good at his job. You know when I go to a Starbucks and my barista gets my order wrong, or puts too much milk in my cappuccino I let out a strong “boooo”. If I’m at the theater watching a Chris Pine film I’ll let out a quiet “boooo” if I’m not satisfied with what’s happening on screen. Sometimes I boo police officers for giving me tickets, or waiters for forgetting my water. The other day I booed a baby in a commercial for not being cute enough. This morning I booed the newspaper because I disagreed with its take on the weather. Yes, the best way to convey what we’re feeling and at the exact same time let someone know they are bad at what they do is to “booo”.

And, Weaver certainly deserves it! I mean it’s his fault he’s older. It’s his fault that the skills of players in Major League Baseball get worse at the tail end of the careers, giving birth to the term “tail end of their careers.” It’s his fault his velocity disappeared – he can do something about that whenever he wants! It’s his fault the Padres offered him a contract worth $3 million dollars, and he accepted it! He could have not accepted it. He could have said, “No! I am not a good pitcher anymore and I refuse this three million dollars. How dare you want to give me that much money?!” He could have done that, but HE DIDN’T! BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I would have respectfully declined the money. No one would ever booo me.

And, I think it’s good we’re booing the right person, you know? I mean, the entire problem begins and soon enough will end with Jered Weaver. I can’t even begin to think whom else we should boo. Not the ownership, they had nothing to do with this. They would never knowingly sign a player who has been getting worse and worse every single year at an almost record-breaking pace. That does not sound like a smart business move. AJ Preller had nothing to do with this either. He’s just the General Manager. He’s the guy in charge of putting together the roster, and since Weaver is on the DL he’s not technically “on the roster”, so it wouldn’t make any sense to boo Preller. The lawyers, the team officials, Weaver’s agent, Jeff Weaver, the song “Dream Weaver”, the accountants, the training staff, nope, nope, nope, nope. The only person in the wrong here is indeed Jered Weaver.

And, it’s mainly because he’s not even trying. I’ve seen him pitch, and I’m in the stands, and I’ve been writing about the Padres for over a decade now, so I know. I can tell he’s not trying. This is why I’ve been offered so many jobs within several MLB dugouts. I’m very astute about when a player is trying or not. I’ve always tried. Always. I’ve never had a boss yell at me for not giving it my all, and I’ve certainly never had a bad day at work! Ever. And, I certainly wouldn’t even think about having a bad day if I made THREE MILLION DOLLARS! It’s not like that’s below market value for a pitcher who had three of the best years of any pitcher in Baseball just a few seasons ago. And, it’s not like $3.87 millions dollars is the average salary for Major League Baseball players. We definitely shouldn’t boo the Player’s Association for shaping pricetags. On top of it all, it’s refreshing to see people on twitter and the blogs agree with me. If the majority of us think it, then it has to be true. Kennedy said that.

Nope. He’s not trying. Not even a little. Shame on him, and no one else involved for him being at this point in his career with very little he can do to right the ship other than take PEDs – and lord knows I’m waiting for that to happen, so I can boooooooooooooo him over and over again. I’m making my sign with an asterisk on it right now.

The best part about it all is that now he knows he’s been pitching poorly. We are providing a service.

Boo.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

Calm Down About Fowler Already

By Nicholas Burmeister (AKA Padres Haiku)

I wrote something like this last season when Fowler vented his frustration with Kemp. What I said then is still true now. He is giving voice to the deepest rooting passion in Padres fans. This is fan service at a caveman level. Not everyone understands the need to “tank.” There are casual baseball fans that are turned off by the idea of trying to lose. Ownership needs to hold on to these fans during the lean years anyway they can. Fowler is betting that some of these fans might react positively to a “the buck stops here” style owner. He might be right. Of course, there are other ways to retain casual fans during times of planned horrific baseball that they haven’t capitalized on. They might be saving the pie eating contests and bobble heads for next year.

One of the main objections to fowler speaking out against poor play is that it will deter future big name free agents from coming here. This would be true if the Padres were in the big name free agent market, which they are not. Nothing Fowler can say or do is going to land them on the short list for players like Harper, Trout, Arrieta, McCutchen, or Altuve. That’s fine. The Padres are not in that market. It’s like if someone told you, “Hey, watch out what you say about your ex because in the future Charlize Theron might not want to date you if you’re mean.” While that’s true, it’s not likely that Ms. Theron was considering going out with you in the first place (her loss, really).

Here’s the kicker. In a few years, the Padres will be in that market and free agents will come here. The team will probably try to land a big name free agent when they’re close to contending. Free agents know which teams are close to contending and which ones aren’t. They also follow the money. Robinson Canó went to Seattle of all places because he saw a chance to compete in the playoff’s (never happened) and a big time pay day (10yrs 240MM. Thank you Roc Nation Sports). When the time is right, players will play for a contender and a large sum of money even if Ron Fowler had the audacity to besmirch the good name of two of the worst pitchers in the last two years. So, cool it with the “he’s hurting our future” histrionics.

What Ron said about weaver wasn’t all that bad. It was nowhere near the lambasting that Shields and Kemp got. Ron said Weaver hasn’t been good, he hasn’t. Fowler said that Weaver has been critical of himself, he has. He said at some point teams have to let underperforming players go, they do. He didn’t call the man an embarrassment, and he never really let loose on Weaver like he did with Shields. This might be a product of how Shields carried himself prior to his trade as opposed to the self-effacing Weaver.

It’s also poor judgment to have Fowler say something like “we back him 100%, we have full confidence” and all that boilerplate nonsense. That’s not true. He doesn’t have confidence in Jered Weaver. He shouldn’t have confidence in Weaver because he’s been exactly what everyone thought he would be: a wet noodle arm with a good personality. If you think being critical of a player is bad, it also looks bad if the owner backs the worst pitcher in the league time and time again. Ron is being honest and that should matter for something.

This isn’t to say he should be allowed free range to run his mouth. Hunter Renfroe hasn’t had the spectacular season fans hoped for but he hasn’t put him behind the eight ball because the rookie is young, cheap, and doesn’t have the same perceived impact on a single game as that a starter does. When he vented on James Shields last year it was before the White Sox trade. That trade was likely made worse for the Padres by his comments. He should have held his tongue until after the trade a la Kemp. Let me be perfectly clear, I don’t think he should be doing these things, but I also don’t think his comments are going to have any more of a lasting impact then having Weaver stink up the joint in the first place.

 

Follow @PadresHaiku on Twitter

Geoff Young Returns! – TKF Pod #89

This week the guys sit down to celebrate the San Diego Gulls moving forward in the AHL playoffs with a win over the Ontario Reign. The hockey team that calls this city home doesn’t carry the same baggage that other local teams have and it’s time to get excited. Then they check in with baseball writer Geoff Young (Baseball Prospectus, Duck Snorts, Crooked Scoreboard). They talk about the notable bright spots in the still young 2017 season for the Padres so far. Should Wil Myers, their best hitter, be slotted 2nd or 3rd in the batting order? They discuss the evolving opinions on the significance of batter order throughout baseball’s history, while agreeing that Myers still has room to mature as marquee offensive force for the franchise. Then they look at what’s exciting about watching Manuel Margot’s maturation process, and the mystery that is Ryan Schimpf. What is Travis Jankowski’s role moving forward with the organization’s overall plan? The guys breakdown all the outfield options the Padres have in front of them and try to find comparable players of the past. Then Geoff answers Twitter questions about writing, beer, and Alexi Amarista. Finally, they close with an update on Nick and Geoff’s love affair with Richard Linklater’s possible masterpiece, the 2016 film Everybody Wants Some!!! (Check out this piece by Geoff on the movie)

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Petco Experience – TKF Pod #88

This week the guys talk about the current state of the Petco Park experience. With the team struggling, going Downtown to a game is still a fun time, but there are things that could be better. With guests Andy Keatts of Voice of San Diego (Orioles fan) and Nate Abaurrea from Soccer Nation (Giants fan), they examine the complexities of in-game stadium operations. Are the fun facts provided about the players on the jumbotron actually that fun? Is the jumbotron itself too big and distracting to enjoy the beauty of the game in front of the viewer? These all the important questions that need to be asked. Then they discuss the Padres’ use of Blink 182’s song “San Diego” from their recent album California. The team uses the song when they win, but the lyrics express deeper feelings about the city that might not be exactly celebratory in the way the Friars intend. The guys go deep on other songs used in this way from other markets and try to figure out what the Padres are trying to say with their choice. The one attraction that everyone can agree on is the beauty of rookie sensation catcher Austin Hedges. He has rebounded from his slow start to put up some exciting power numbers, all while maintaining his superb defense. In closing, they talk about the future of the Soccer City SD movement. Nate explains his experience working with youth club teams, the Sockers, the teams on the other side of the border that contribute to this market, and more. What role will SDSU play in the final decisions that the city has to make in November regarding bringing MLS to the city? Time will tell, but it’s looking like another summer of stadium talk headed our way.

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Margot Leading Off

By Nicholas McCann

The night before the official announcement came down that the Chargers were leaving, reports trickled in that it was happening. Immediately, I looked around my house for all my team gear. It felt smart to make a list of things to destroy. The bolt mug my mom found at a church rummage sale was shattered in my alley. My Antonio Gates powder blue home jersey was then used to clean up the mug’s broken glass and became featured in a TKF Instagram video essay. In the midst of dividing up the items into groups for separate methods of destruction (Burn, shatter, or drown), I came across a knitted snow cap that took the shape of the Chargers helmet. A friend of mine gave a bunch of them out as Christmas gifts a few years back. That hat will never be destroyed. It was purchased from a local girl who stitched them by hand, and after going through the application process, she was denied official licensing by the NFL. She now lives in Germany and has a family.

It’s not the Padres job to fix me. They’ve made their choices, and unlike Dean Spanos, I’ve chosen to stay. The only baseball team I’ve ever loved is rebuilding again, and as always, I’m skeptical of ownership’s ability to pull it off. Consequently, I feel the same way about myself. This has to be my last go ’round. I need to be the owner of my own happiness and never let a professional sports team hurt me again. I’m too old for that and I have a son now. If the Padres can’t change themselves into a winner I can’t be an angry San Diego sports fan in front of him.

Outfielder Manuel Margot and three other prospects were traded to the Padres from the Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel before last season. Regardless of what the team was saying publicly, this was the first real step in the direction of the current rebuild. They knew they didn’t need a closer and Boston was getting jammed up with young outfield talent. My son was born a few months after the transaction and now Margot is here.

Did I mention my wife is from Boston? She is.

On Wednesday night Andy Green started Travis Jankowski at lead off in the batting order. It wasn’t a big deal, but not having Margot in the opening slot at the top made me nervous. Green has mostly been using Manuel there and it’s felt reassuring to have him in the position to control the tone of a game from the jump. Travis is just a fast dude who plays hard and might have a career at this level. However, when Manny leads off it’s something different. With him, a tangible feeling of relief enters in that informs the rest of the game no matter what the result ends up being. He represents the start of our future. His smile makes me think about what a parade would feel like in the Gaslamp. When he does something exciting, like opening up San Diego’s offense with a leadoff double or homerun, it feels like we’re collectively throwing a lit cigarette at Dean Spanos’ problematic face. Is it unfair to attach this stuff to a young outfielder at the dawn of his career? Perhaps, but as Padres fans adjust to accepting the team being bad for the next few years, Margot is the most realistic embodiment of a preview for something better to come. He is the lighthouse telling our ship where the land is, and more precisely, he gives us hope that land may actually exist.

Manuel started off hot in the first few series and has slightly come back to earth a bit. If this continues the team will be justified in sending him down to El Paso for a few weeks to preserve his service time and give him a chance to work on some things. This will probably spark some debate from the media and the fans because (A) the rules in place allow for it and (B) we’ll have little else to talk about as the Padres plummet deeper into the reality we all saw coming for 2017.

This is all fine for now. My son will have no memory of this time. Right now he’s as excited about our dryer as I am about Margot. Besides, I don’t even remember falling in love with Tony Gwynn. I was born in 1980 and he was always just there as a constant in my life, becoming the greatest contact hitter of his generation as my brain began to form. The rebuild needs to work so my son and I can have some version of what I had. It starts with Margot. He can’t fail. He will be our favorite player together if the universe or the Padres don’t ruin him.

Baseball changed for me after the fire sale of the early 90s. My dad had to explain to me what the value of a franchise meant and why the owner (and producer of the Cosby show) had to strip the Padres down so he could sell it. After destroying all my licensed Chargers gear, I packed up the handmade snow cap in a box in our garage. I’ll explain it to my son later. Like the Padres, I’ll have to build up to that.

 

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