Today is the day before the day that the Padres take the field in what is possibly the most anticipated season in over a decade. They’ll be taking that field at the place they’ve called home since 2004, PETCO Park.
Of course prior to that the Padres played their Baseball in a cavernous cement tomb that always smelled a bit off, and was more often than not adorned with empty seats, Jack Murphy Stadium (or “the Q” for the heathens out there).
Yes, of course over the last month and change you’ve read article after article hugging the memory of The Murph; continuing to shower positive vibes over a stadium hated by the press, maligned by players, and enjoyed a waining love from the fans.
I could use this space and this time to retell glorious stories about heckling Larry Walker, always paying for the cheapest seats and moving to the most expensive ones while almost never being caught. I could tell you my friend Matt’s grandma used to work at the concession booth behind the Jumbotron and would give us free hot dogs every time. I could tell you my family went to just about every summer Beach Boys concert the stadium held. I would run down the spiral stairs no matter how old I was.
I had my first beer at a ballgame at the Murph.
The Murph had a certain charm to it that was special to San Diegans and only San Diegans. Other cities were clamoring for new ballparks and football stadiums and for the most part building them with relative ease. Not us. I remember when Nick McCann and I were on tour and we took in a day game at the then brand new SAFECO Field. It was slick, and fresh, and felt like it was passed through a marketing firm. Nick turned to me and said, “I can’t trust a stadium where my feet don’t stick to the floor.”
Having an old cathedral to mediocrity was a badge of honor for us.
But, that’s just what it was. A giant circular reminder that we as a sports city were an afterthought to most. A large grey lighthouse in the middle of the city that warned all oncoming sports fans that they were about to enter a place where no important banners hung.
So, I say good riddance. Goodbye. Tear it down. Let it go. The Murph was a cursed venue that stood as a reminder that when it comes to sports we as a city fail more than we succeed.
Of course it’s important to hold on to the memories we made there. The times we parked in Del Cerro or Linda Vista just so we didn’t have to pay. Watching Tony and Trevor and Garvey and McGriff. I’d never besmirch anyone for having a fond remembrance of time spent at The Murph.
But, I have no interest in anyone thinking that ridiculous building did anything but ultimately bring anguish and anger to the city.
Even in it’s final days it only served to be a tool that politicians, billion-dollar educational institutions and sports millionaires could use to further their agendas, and leverage into the perfect situation that benefited their needs, not the needs of the citizens.
The Murph began eroding from the inside out for decades, and furthered the reach of it’s black hole armageddon to the minds and mouths of neighbors, friends, and family. It did everything it could to take the city down with it.
Even at the very end it wouldn’t allow itself to be blown up, it had be taken down piece by piece forcing us to watch like scraping shit off your shoe over and over again.
I can’t help but think of Dean Spanos watching the tomb’s demolition from his third balcony spa, fogging up his glasses and cackling at the thought that he made the right decision. And, that is its legacy. Bad businessmen, apathetic mayors, and the continued failures of Aztecs football.
I have wonderful memories. I have fantastic, rich memories that revolve around that place as the background. The location for good times that had nothing to do with them other than context. But, like all the places important to my youth it was time to tear it down.
The large crater in the middle of mission valley was merely the cup your coffee was poured in, but we just let that coffee sit there for too long.