It’s fitting that the season starts at Dodger Stadium. The 2015 Padres aren’t real until Los Angeles sees what they are. It’s better to get this out of the way early. The first three games of the year will showcase the three best pitchers from each staff and then the Padres will go home to face the Giants, the World Series Champions and the current measuring stick for the rest of the NL West.
Before the war begins, I need to get something off my chest. I need to expose the most embarrassing clip of video footage I have in my possession that pertains to the SD vs. LA rivalry.
When I was 12, my Dad and I spent the Saturday before the 1992 All Star Game at the Upper Deck All Star Fanfest held at the San Diego Convention Center. We milled around for hours, meeting old players selling autographs and checking out baseball card displays at every turn. Towards the end of our day, we stopped at a booth called Screen Training. This was an interactive exhibit that allowed participants to record a play by play call of a classic baseball moment. We decided to give it a shot with Kirk Gibson’s iconic walk off home run in game one of the 1988 World Series.
The personal artifact above from the ’92 All Star Weekend captures a time in my life when cynicism and angst were completely absent from my sports fan experience. In case you couldn’t get through it (which is fine), my high pitched unchanged voice playfully made fun of Tommy Lasorda’s Slimfast campaign and alluded to Gibson using steroids, even though I never believed that. I was young enough to geek out over a transcendent sporting event, but old enough to understand the value of using a catch phrase to build up the drama. I smashed the non-existent audience repeatedly with “It’s Eck time” several times. I couldn’t stop and never thought about why I should.
Over the last 23 years I’ve learned to hate the Dodgers and their fans. It isn’t just baseball anymore like it was before I hit puberty. In fact, it increases every year. I hate the Kirk Gibson homerun. I hate what it means for Dodger fans and I hate that it is undeniably an important piece of baseball history. I’m posting this video for two reasons: (A) it is hilarious and (B) because I need Dodgers fans to see it and make fun of me for it. I can’t move past it if they don’t get to take a shot.
The San Diego Padres had 5 players in the All Star Game that year (Tony Gwynn, Benito Santiago, Tony Fernandez, Fred Mcgriff, and Gary Sheffield). A year later the Great Fire Sale of 1993 would strip down the Padres to Tony Gwynn and a bunch of scrubs. A year after that, all the Major League players would go on strike.
Next year the All Star game returns to San Diego and I will be at the fan fest. Hopefully I can record a call of Clayton Kershaw choking in the playoffs against the Padres. If that happens, I’ll probably say something horrible like, “Oh no, I think Clayton just renounced God!” But the Padres have to get there first.
Happy Opening Day!
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