During last weekend’s Pads/Reds series I reached out to my old friend Lance Arthur Smith. Lance is a die-hard Padres fan who, along with me, shares some fan loyalty with the “great” state of Ohio. However, we end up learning a lot of things about each other we didn’t know…and that no one really cares about the Reds. Lance is also the author of a great book entitled ‘Princess Geek: Dad and Daughter Braving the New Geek Chic Together‘, click on the title to get your copy. It’s a funny and important read for any Dad in this era. On to the series:

DALLAS MCLAUGHLIN Friday June 5th 9:30am PST

Dearest Lance,

It’s been a long time since we’ve broken bread, but now we can do so via the internet. Amazing times we live in. My editor thought it would be fun for us to have a back and forth about the Padres/Reds series that starts tomorrow night in Cincinnati. His reasoning is that we both have Ohio roots, and we both live in San Diego. Also, we both root for the Bengals. In his mind this means you should root for the Reds as well, but do you? Does your Cincy love spread that far? Do you even care about the Reds? And how do you feel about communism? And, have we ever actually talked about our Ohio roots? I know this seems like a lot of questions right off the bat, but sometimes I feel like for as much as we know each other, we know nothing about each other.

For Sparky,

Dallas.

LANCE ARTHUR SMITH Friday June 5th 1:15pm PST

My darling Dallas,

I should clarify a few points. I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM and was a diehard Dukes fan. The Dukes were the AAA farm club for the Dodgers until they changed their name to the Isotopes; New Mexico loves to appropriate pop culture (Isotopes from THE SIMPSONS, the city of T or C from the old game show TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, and celebrating anywhere BREAKING BAD filmed). I remember how cool Mike Piazza was to us kids who hounded him for autographs, and we thrilled to performances by the San Diego Chicken. My dad shared custody of me with my mom, who lived in Las Vegas with my stepdad. Our AAA club in Vegas was the Stars, the farm club for the Padres. I still have my Minor League cards of all the Alomars, who used to sign for any kid with a good story and somewhere at my mom’s house is a signed SCORE Andy Benes card. I also had two sets of aunts who lived in SD, and Tony Gwynn was always in my top five favorite players. Along with Chris Sabo, whose flat top I emulated at various times throughout my life.

I’ve been to Cincinnati one time in my life. It was a layover. I had drinks at the bar and bought a Bengals beer coozie, so I could say I owned a piece of Bengals paraphernalia from Cincy. Most folks in NM are either Broncos fans or Cowboys fans. My older brother has been a fan of the Bengals franchise since Paul Brown started it. My older sister is a Jets fan because she loved Joe Namath’s tight pants. At four years old, I thought tigers were cooler than airplanes. I’ve been a Bengals fan ever since. Oh sure, I like the Chargers and actively root for them, but the Bengals have my heart.

Why is all this important? Because I don’t give a fig about the Reds (except for Sabo and his goggles). Sparky was one of Dad’s favorite coaches, but that was when he was the Tigers’ skipper all those years. Dad followed the Tigers since the Hank Greenberg days. My baseball team, all day, every day, is the Padres. I’ve only lived in San Diego since 2005, but I love it and I love them.

My first Padres game in person was Game 1 of the NLDS in 2006 against the Cardinals. The Cards, specifically Pujols, ripped Peavy a new one in that game. It was still fun and my future mother-in-law bought Colleen and me matching shirts. I took Scottie several times before she was a year old back when we lived downtown. I’ve sat in a premium box and eaten like a king when I was doing a musical workshop for the owner’s son (Bud Black’s first year, if I recall correctly). And I’ve listened to the Boys on the radio since visiting my Aunts as a kid. I currently enjoy a Sirius subscription and I tune in any chance I get. I don’t have MLBTV or Cox or whatever the hell you have to own to watch it.

You know what I’m most looking forward to in this series? How awful the Reds are right now. They are downright offensive. I take joy in that, hoping the Padres can keep this massive two-game winning streak going. It’s good to have Yonder back. Kemp, of course, worries me.

I feel that communism was given a bad rap, but that like Lukas Haas states in MARS ATTACKS, perhaps we could all live in teepees because it’s better in a lot of ways. Now you know me, and knowing is half the battle. I don’t know what the other half is.

Yours in Friar faithfulness,

Lance

The Pads beat the Reds 6-2

DALLAS MCLAUGHLIN June 6th 1:08pm PST

Oh Lance,

See, I told my editor this was a bad idea. I never knew you weren’t from Ohio. It’s cool, Ohio is pretty lame. I mean if you like a lot of nothing mixed with spotty cell reception and often times blatant racism, then Ohio is your spot. I grew up in San Diego, but my father lives in Ohio, and so I spent about fifteen summers there rooting for the Reds the whole time. Chris Sabo was my God. Well, Sabo and the Nasty Boys (Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Tom Browning), and my heart was full every time Paul O’Neill hit one out. In fact, when O’Neill went to the Yankees, I became a Yankees fan. I didn’t want to, but I grew up idolizing him so much, it felt like I had to! He also wore goggles. But, Sabo took the cake. He was a scrappy guy who looked like an extra from Major Dad. The trophy in my fantasy baseball league is named “The Chris Sabo CommerativeCup”. I spelled ‘Commemorative’ wrong on the engraving sheet and no one noticed for three years.

Anyway, I also love the Bengals. I met Boomer one time, and it changed everything. Nicest guy I’ve ever met with huge hands. I dig the Chargers, but I don’t want to waste one more second talking about that mess. You think Dalton ever gets the Bengals over the hump? Remember when you almost traded me Giovanni Bernard for David Wilson in fantasy football? Good times.

The Reds are the strangest franchise to me. They’re the first professional franchise in Baseball history and because of this fact they always played the first game of every season. That honor changed back in 2003, but it was a cool little piece of history no one seems to care about. The Reds are also at the center of arguably Baseball’s biggest scandal, and Baseball’s most uncomfortable racist tirade. They have such a deep and rich history in the game, but get little respect from media or Major League brass. I’d guess most people had no idea the Reds started professional Baseball, and probably think they were expansion team from the 60’s. Why do you think this is?

The Reds are playing terrible this year, and I have no idea when the Reds will be relevant again. They got no-hit by the Cardinals a few seasons ago in the playoffs, and it’s been downhill ever since. Votto is a beast, but not enough to carry the squad, Phillips is old, and Cueto can’t seem to stay healthy or consistent. The pieces are always almost there, but they never come together. Reminds me a lot of the Padres. When these two teams play each other, I feel like they are on the same level at all times. When one team is playing well, so is the other, when one is at .500, so is the other, and when one is terrible, so are the Padres. It’s weird, but oddly factual going back to the late 1980’s. Hell, they both got new stadiums around the same time too!

As a true fan of both teams I’ve been pretty frustrated for a long time. It’s like always rooting for 3rd place. In fact I’m betting they each win one game this series and somehow end the 3rd game in a tie. How high were your expectations this season with the Padres, and do you have a second Baseball team that you root for? Also, where do you stand on Pete Rose?

With Goggles Wrapped Tight,

Dallas.

LANCE ARTHUR SMITH June 6th 4:22pm PST

Big D,

Where in Ohio? I want to do a mileage test, and find out why you like the Bengals more than the Browns. Did you see Draft Day? Kevin Costner is the worst GM in history. His ass would’ve been fired before he even gave away the #1 pick. But let’s get back to baseball.

I’m not nearly as up to date on the Reds as you are. I said I don’t give a fig about the Reds, but please understand that I don’t dislike them. I love sports. Some fans I despise, but on the whole I don’t blame the teams. I agree with you about how important the Reds franchise is to Major League Baseball. Why do I think most people have a skewed view of the franchise? Exactly what you said. Media and MLB brass. Which is a shame, especially in light of the controversy (ies). I always think commissioners have a duty to be head-on when dealing with problems. That’s why I love our fantasy football league. Bring the issue to light, address it, don’t downplay it, but acknowledge that while black and white exist, gray is just as prominent. That’s why I despise Goodell but again, let’s get back to baseball.

I’ve listened to both games in this series, and have watched the minimal highlights I’m allowed by this “internet”. I love that Phillips is considered old, despite the fact that he’s a good four years younger than I am. He’s a stud, and his play in these two games has proven that (as has his upcoming bobblehead). There are indeed similarities between the Reds and the Padres, though this year, finally, the Padres have me believing I can sit at Petco and watch them in a quality postseason appearance. This is a miracle considering where they were last year. Coming into this year, I allowed my expectations to be insanely high. Wildcard? At least.

The Pads have won the series and are looking for a sweep. It’s so damn good to have Yonder back, obviously for his offense but for his defense too. Kemp is FINALLY doing what we needed. His defense has been ridiculous, and today’s homer/hitting display has him hitting with a modicum of power. And our Boys are above .500, which shocks the hell out of me.

Our bullpen, which has finally remembered what it did since Trevor’s days, still worries me. I’m unsure of SS, though when I badmouthed Amarista to my sister-in-law the other day, he hit two crucial ribbys. I badmouthed Kemp last week, and he nailed in the game-winning ribbys. It follows that I should badmouth the Padres as a whole, but as a Padres fan this is incongruous and no way for me to live my fandom life.

The Padres are my one and only. I admit to owning a Giants hat and rooting for them during the Will Clark era, though I’ve since learned that he’s a douche. A college classmate posted a picture of me on social media wearing a Florida Marlins shirt which I honestly don’t remember wearing/buying. I drank a lot of beer in college. Divisionally, I dig the Diamondbacks but I don’t actively root for them. When my pal and I headed out to Spring Training this year, we stayed at his mother-in-law’s house. She was a wonderful host. She also works for the Diamondbacks, so I feel I owe at least minimal allegiance to her team as long as it doesn’t interfere with my Padres.

Thank you, thank you for not giving me Wilson for Bernard. I was in four fantasy football leagues and I like some consistency among my teams, hence the David Wilson bid. You and I are champions. Never forget that.

Despaigne is good as a reliever, but he’s not a starter. The problem is, I don’t know who to put up there instead. I still think we’ll sweep.

Cheers, Lance

The Pads beat the Reds 9-7

DALLAS MCLAUGHLIN June 7th 1:32pm PST

Lance,

My family lives in a small town fairly close to Columbus, so they are right in the middle. My Dad has his choice and went with Cincinnati teams. I think he always loved Johnny Bench, and that was that. I didn’t see Draft Day, but I can’t imagine Costner was worse than the actual Browns GM. And, only since you brought it up – Goodell is the worst. You know when idiots claim Obama is a muslim and is actively trying to destroy America? I feel that way about Goodell. It seems he’s actively trying to end the NFL. Idiot. I’m also surprised you’re that happy with our commissioner(s) in our fantasy league. I feel like they’re pretty lazy, and it might be time for a vote.

I think people consider Phillips old because in Baseball years 33 is up there, especially for a second baseman who’s seen a dip in numbers and rise in injuries the last few seasons. Regardless, I’d take him in a heartbeat if the Padres could swing it. Yonder coming back is a huge plus, and when Myers gets back I think the team will once again play like they were in the first month. Those two guys are sparkplugs. Yonder’s season so far has made me pretty happy in general. I felt bad for him last season. He got a lot of crap, and played poorly. I maintain it was because he felt like he had to carry the team. Now, that he has hitters around him he can go back to doing what he does best – hitting for doubles.

The best thing so far about this series is that Bud Black is keeping the same lineup. Well, almost. But, one through six are consistent and that matters. I’m sure if we lose Sunday it’ll be back to shaking things up again. However, you should be playing to win a series not sweep. A consistent lineup will lose 30% of the time. A jumbled lineup will also lose 30% of the time, but has the chance to lose a lot more. That’s my feeling anyway. Baseball breeds repetitiveness, and I think a lot of these established guys need that to succeed.

The bullpen is finally coming together, and I think that has a lot to do with team chemistry. I feel like the month of May hit this squad hard, and it made a lot of them mad. That anger can either motivate or do nothing, and I feel like it motivated everyone. Apparently James Shields posted a sign in the locker room that read, “If you don’t like losing, then play better.” I like James Shields. As far as SS goes, it’s a toss up. In my MLB the Show franchise I play Spang at SS, and I actually feel like that could work in real life. He’s a natural 3B, and has a lot of playing time at 2B. Why not try it? I mean hell, they’re trotting out Middlebrooks at short!

Do you think we should trade for a SS? A lot of people do. I think it’s misguided. We need to get through June and see where we are. In fact, my expectations we’re a lot like yours – wildcard shot. I think next year will be the year we put some more pieces together and win the division. This isn’t our team for the next few years. Hedges or Norris will be moved, so will Gyorko or Solarte. We’ll probably trade a reliever or starter. It’s all for the greater good…I hope. However, Norris is my favorite Padre since Eckstein, and I don’t want him to go anywhere.

Nice job on skirting the Pete Rose question…we’ll talk about that some other time.

As I finish this the Reds blanked the Padres 4-0 to avoid the sweep. Odds on the lineup looking totally different for the Braves game tomorrow night? I’ll say Kemp and Norris are rested at least.

Also they just announced Melvin “BJ” Upton will join the team for the next series. Thoughts? Do we need him? Will he contribute? I think he could…and if he does…

Trust me Lance, knowing that I’m a fantasy champion gives me nothing but joy. I flaunt my victories, and curse my losses, but I’ll always have something that the other guys didn’t. Always.

Champions,

Dallas.

The Reds avoided the sweep and beat the Pads 4-0.

LANCE ARTHUR SMITH June 7th 5:10pm PST

Dallas,

Scandalous words about our current commissioner(s). Goodell is worse than any Browns GM ever could be. Tagliabue was the tits. Remember when he moved the Superbowl from Arizona because they refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday? Good guy.

I would love for the Padres to get Phillips, but I’m fine with our current lineup. Your suggestion to put Spangy at SS is intriguing. I thought Solarte could do it, and he can as a stopgap, but we need an upgrade there. I don’t think we should trade for a SS. Who are we going to get, and at what cost? I thought Spangy at 2nd was the best option, but I don’t honestly know. Where are you on the Gyorko experiment? Other than that, Wil Myers is a beast. Venable has performed admirably, and some of his catches were highlight reel material. I know, because highlights are all I see after I listen to Uncle Teddy and Scan. Upton Funk, Kemp the Faith, and Oscar Myers will kill it out there.

I think you’re dead on about consistency. We all know how much Buddy likes to roll the dice, and I don’t know anyone in San Diego who loves that. If we can hold on to Shields, we’ll be in a pretty sweet position next year. Cashner will explode next year. I feel it in my old bones. We can’t lose Norris- I feel as you do about him. I cried man tears when he blasted that grand slam.

Melvin “don’t call me BJ” Upton? Man, I think that’s a bust. I hope I’m wrong, but my gut says bust. I’m upset and also happy that we’re at .500. This is a good place for this team to live for a bit. Chemistry is a funny thing, and in this day of players coming and going, it’s tricky to find a combination that clicks. After this series, I have to believe Bud will tinker less and hit on the winning combination (I think he’s close, honestly).

My opinions on Pete Rose are quite strong. Better for another time, I think.

I’m looking forward to the Pads/Braves series. I love when players face their former clubs, and Upton and Kimbrel should be fun to watch.

I love that you have a Station fantasy football championship. I love that I have three of them. I look forward to our clandestine side meetings where we talk trade and drafting strategy, but nothing really happens.

Please give my love to your family. Maybe one day we’ll Sublime Ale House it. I would like that very much.

Keep slugging,

Lance

Follow Lance on twitter here

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

You can buy either of us dinner and beer at Sublime Ale House anytime.