I used to have this friend I did standup with named Nick Spears. He was a big guy, big beard and he was probably the happiest guy you’d ever meet, and he loved everyone and everything. The only thing he didn’t love was cancer. He actually used to do fundraisers for a group called “F*ck Cancer”, and was an avid supporter of those afflicted by the disease.
When my own mother was diagnosed I quickly began to feel the same way Nick did: f*ck cancer.
As someone going through it I can’t imagine how hard it is, how defeating and horrific it can be. As someone who had to watch it happen to a loved one, I can only say that above all else – it f*cking sucks. It takes it’s toll without concern of who or what or why. Cancer has claimed so many wonderful people from this world, so young, so full of the very thing they just desperately wanted to continue: life.
I didn’t know Kevin Towers. I never even met the man. In fact when Towers became the General Manager of the Padres I had no idea. I was 15 at the time. There was no social media or internet to inform me of the hire, and dissect his employment within seconds of the move. If I wanted to know anything about Towers and his affect on shaping my home team I’d have to read about it – in the newspaper. As a 15-year old that wasn’t gonna happen.
I didn’t know what he was about, his philosophy, or his tactics. For some of you I know its hard to understand just how much information there wasn’t back in those days, but you basically evaluated trades after they happened, and sometimes not until years later when the prospect involved in that trade made it to the Big Leagues.
It was the dark ages and all I knew about Towers was that he had worked with the Padres for awhile, and they trusted him to get the Friars to the postseason.
And, he did. Quickly. Multiple times.
Around the early 2000’s, when the internet started to come of age and we actually got legitimate information about the guys running the team we started to form more opinions on them based on the things happening at the time, and using that information I decided I didn’t like Kevin Towers.
This was unfair.
In 1999 he was directed to sell off the 1998 squad, getting pennies on the dollars, having his skills handcuffed by a terrible ownership group that had moved on. He never again was truly given the freedom or capability to field a real competitor like he had during those first few years as GM. And, since the internet came of age during the years when KT was forced to make us care about Bubba Trammell, he never got the respect he deserved from a generation of disenfranchised fans.
He still continued to make great moves that would continually pay off the for the Padres down the road, and at least keep fans engaged. But, like Bruce Bochy, I wish he was given one more chance to wheel and deal before, like Bochy again, he was allowed to walk as penance for someone else’s sins.
I wish I knew more when it mattered. I wish when I heard the news today I didn’t immediately think of Brian Lawrence or Adam Eaton or the rest of the things I blindly blamed him for because there was very little opportunity to know any better.
Reading the stories, and the tweets, and the wonderful memories from the Baseball world have helped me to understand the kind of man who made the Friars relevant during one of the craziest eras in Baseball history. They help me put a great mind into context. They give me the information that would’ve been so much more helpful during the fire-sale.
Most importantly they help me to correctly remember the man. Something that in today’s age of knee jerk reactions and quick but dim witted takes, almost seems impossible. They’ve encouraged me, like many of you, to go back and learn what moves he made, contracts he dealt, and loyalties he acquired, which seem to have stretched across Baseball as a whole.
From one Padres fan whose love of Baseball was saved because of your steady work – Thank you, Kevin Towers.
And, f*ck cancer.
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