My Heart and My Hustle

My Heart and My Hustle

Anchorman is a masterpiece that gets to the highest level a film comedy can achieve. Besides being an undeniable laugh fest, it also has something real to say about a certain toxic male energy that’s still in the process of being cleansed from our workplaces.

It’s a classic and deserves to be treated that way.

However, the major problem I have with the movie is that the assumption it makes about San Diego completely worked. Ron Burgundy and his gang of misfits exist in a grounded reality that is close enough to the conventional surface level understanding of the region most outsiders engage with. These sex-crazed bozos are able to maintain real jobs in local media no matter how ramped up their cartoonish buffoonery becomes. Then the movie winks at the audience that there’s never any real news in the community so it would all fly. It doesn’t overtly attack San Diego. It pats it on the head and presents a hard backdrop of unwavering constant niceness that would naturally breed a general aloof quality in anybody who would live here.

This is why I leave my seat when the Padres unleash their Anchorman Race at Petco Park.

Defending Manny Machado’s understanding of baseball hustling has become the central San Diego sports dynamic I’m focused on. It transcends the everyday function of closely following the team’s wins and losses. Last October, before becoming a Padre, he spoke candidly about a flaw in his game where he doesn’t always run his hardest on routine grounders that he assumes he’ll be thrown out on. It happened in the postseason and turned the entire Dodgers fan base against him.

When he signed here in January, sticking up for him against any vitriol coming his way in the area of his personal effort became vastly important. Those engaged in this defense know that it can basically be distilled down to this: Most hustling in baseball is dangerous, so being cautious and measured is the smarter way to play for someone of Manny’s value.

Whether or not San Diego is collectively lazy is impossible to quantify, but we all have to confront our own pitfalls in lack of effort moments every day. With Manny in town we can now fill in those gaps with reassurance that even though we might not be the fastest, we show up every day. It allows us to intellectualize our own laziness and turn it into a virtue. The weather is good here and it’s a nice place to live, but don’t be fooled. Like Manny, we grind. And more importantly, we know our own worth, so we know you’re going to want us to keep grinding despite the little flaws that might pop up.

Obviously, none of that may be true on a personal level for any given individual. But it feels true to me every time I wear the Machado T-shirt I bought in June, and that’s all that matters. I’ve worn it to every game I’ve been to since the purchase.

A few weeks ago I went to the Boston Series with my wife, who’s a Red Sox fan. It felt like 70/30 away team fans were in attendance. During the Anchorman Race I went to the Men’s room and waited in line. It was crawling with dudes who were jacked up to see their 2018 World Champions.

While watching them finish their business and leave, I started to hear a voice behind me say, “Nice shirt,” after every Boston fan walked by. The repetition soon felt pointed at me. “Nice shirt…nice shirt…nice shirt,” I kept hearing.

When I finally turned around I found a little Dustin Pedroia looking ferret smiling at me. His teeth appeared to be in their “Grady Little after Aaron Boone” phase. They were coming out soon, so expediting that process with my fist seemed needlessly excessive. Before I could respond, he disarmed me with a playful, but respectful, “Just kidding, man. I saw your shirt. Machado used to kill us.”

After giving him directions to find the Tony Gwynn Statue, I went back to my seat to watch the Padres lose to the Red Sox. We stayed for fireworks that night and while all the Boston fans basked in the overall package of entertainment that Petco had to offer, the only victory my faith could claim was the fact that we finally had somebody other teams truly despised.

I keep thinking about the Sportscenter ads that were released earlier this month that featured Machado. In the spot where he’s hired to be a “Manny” and watch a bunch of children at ESPN’s Bristol campus daycare, he never deviates from the cool and calm persona he always brings to the field. The joke is that this would make him unfit to watch bonkers kids because real daycare centers are chaotic environments that need to be actively controlled. It was funny and Manny was clearly game, but at first glance it made me nervous. Would this play to the “Manny doesn’t hustle” narrative that I’ve been willing to make my war since he signed on the dotted line?

Real confidence, the kind that Manny has, and aspires to bring to San Diego, is about not giving a fuck about what outsiders decide about you living your life. Within the reality of the ESPN spot, the kids were always fine under the care of the third baseman for the San Diego Padres. Sure, they were tearing the office apart, but there was never any real danger that we could see. Manny had it under control and wasn’t worried.

The Padres had an awful second half and Machado will end this campaign with a down offensive year for him. It’s become common to hear people say that this is a lost season. That’s fine, but we do finally have something to circle our wagons around and protect.

People that want to tear that down can watch four foam caricatures of idiots that never lived race around the outer rim.

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Nick was born in San Diego in 1980. He started The Kept Faith on blogspot in 2008.

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