A couple of days ago it was reported that Adrian Gonzalez would not be joining his beloved Dodgers during the World Series. Dodgers’ fans were left confused, a little concerned, and some hurt. For Padres fans the reaction was less worry and more joyous. It felt like maybe Adrian was a true Padre after all, and used one of his last Baseball moves to insult our hated rival.
We know that’s not true, but we don’t know for sure that it’s not true.
Regardless, the emotional reason Adrian decided to skip his first World Series seemed to be a mystery, even down to where he’s going. First the LA Times said he’d be traveling to Europe with his family, then Adrian tweeted a picture of himself joining the local Dodger broadcast team on the first night of the Series.
Adrian has since returned to the Dodgers and was on the field with them during batting practice for Game Two. This fact is actually what some writers are blaming LA’s dramatic loss on last night. And, it’s been confirmed the reason for his trip to Italy was to help move his family there for five months while his wife takes a shoe designing class – oh, that LA life.
For a player who is known throughout both leagues as a standup guy and a clubhouse leader, this seems to be an odd choice for a final curtain call.
Back in 2011 when the Padres let Adrian go most fans weren’t surprised. We figured it would happen at some point. All our relationships fail, and all good people leave us. However, with Adrian it almost felt like if Tony had left. A-Gonz was a kid from Eastlake, his career blossomed with the Padres, he became a star with the Padres, and he was the best player on some fairly relevant San Diego squads. His swing was a thing of beauty. He was our guy.
Then he left. To the Red Sox. The fact that in his first year with the Sox he hit .338 with 117 RBI, a league leading 213 hits, and an OPS of .957 didn’t make anything easier to swallow.
In return for Adrian the Pads got Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, plus two other guys. At the time this was a great haul: a top pitching prospect in Kelly, and an elite-hitting prospect in Rizzo. Unfortunately both never came to fruition for the Friars as Kelly only appeared in seven games before needing Tommy John surgery and eventually being traded to the Braves in 2015, and Rizzo…well…shit.
Rizzo was called up in 2011, and everyone viewed him as the savior. He was the great hope to replace the production we lost when Adrian went AL. Rizzo would bring us into the new decade a winner. After only 49 games the Padres traded the scuffling power bat to the Cubs for Kyung-Min Na and fucking Andrew Cashner. For whatever reason we weren’t patient with Rizzo, and while he went off to become a superstar, we watched Cashner do his best to be interesting, and Na…well…shit.
After only one strange year in Boston, where Adrian told the Boston media that they didn’t make the playoffs because God didn’t want them to, he was traded to the Dodgers in one of the craziest and largest trades in modern day Baseball history. Along with Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford, A-Gonz hit Chavez Ravine with a ton of expectations and the pure elation of playing for his favorite team since he was a little kid.
This didn’t make Padres fans any happier. In fact it only made it worse.
While we watched Yonder Alonso hit meaningless doubles, Adrian became one of the most popular players on one of the most popular teams in Baseball. He started appearing in huge playoff games and that sweet swing of his was now featured everywhere. Our little boy was all growns up.
Over the next four seasons his stats slowly declined, but his position in the Dodgers clubhouse increased. He had fun, enjoyed himself, seem to enjoy his teammates, and his smile could be seen from Santa Monica to Diamond Bar. He belonged to Los Angeles now, and everyone south of the 76 knew it. Adrian’s Friar days were long gone and he just became another Dodger to hate; it was like watching Christian Bale’s character in Swing Kids.
Now, after having a terrible 2017 season in which he only appeared in 71 games, and lost his starting job to rookie phenom Cody Bellinger, Adrian took off.
The ultimate clubhouse guy ditched the clubhouse and by all accounts will call it a career before 2018, that is if the Padres don’t inquire about him for one last trip around the diamond.
We know they won’t, but we don’t know for sure that they won’t.
And, I don’t want them to. I can remember season after season I quietly wished Adrian would find his way back home. That we could once again watch him hit one into the gap, and slowly stride into second. As his career with the blue up north continued I could see that he clearly didn’t think about San Diego the way we thought about him. He embraced LA, lives in LA, raises his family in LA, and will more than likely stay in LA no matter where he plays.
That’s why this little disappearing act didn’t make me happy that he shafted the Dodgers, and it didn’t make me sad that it looked like he would miss his only World Series appearance. It just made me feel weird. I felt nothing. It was like watching Kyle Chandler in Bloodline: “Hey! It’s Coach Taylor! I love Coach Taylor! Oh, wait that’s not Coach Taylor; he’s that guy now. This show is fine. I’ll watch the first season. He’s a good actor. Criminally underrated on Friday Night Lights. I miss Coach Taylor.”
Adrian moved on from us and never looked back. Don’t expect him to pull an LT and come back trying to earn a cheap paycheck helping the Padres build a new stadium. He’s not a part of this place anymore. He’s not a part of any place anymore. He’s moved on from Baseball.
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