I’ve been upset about the San Diego Padres in some capacity for most of my adult life. Since the signing of Manny Machado last week there’s been a major shift in the way I view the team’s ownership. Peter Seidler and Ron Fowler spent enough money to transform all that. Besides the fact that I’m standing on the doorstep of 40 and this just isn’t cute anymore, the connection I feel with the 300 million dollars given to our new third baseman is real because it was successfully spent to change my point of view.
From the outside I’m sure the transactional nature of this change looks shallow. Some rich people that I don’t know spent money that I’ll never understand on a player that I’m sure I’ll never be able to relate to. But it doesn’t matter. Manny is great and there is no tangible reason to have uncertainty of his greatness. There’s nothing to develop or question. We know what he is and our rich guys paid for it.
Padres Fans have been spinning helplessly into the darkness of outer space for the last decade. We’ve gotten pounded by everyone and been forced to look forward to a future that might not happen. As of last week, we’ve landed back safely on our home planet where we root for a team that actually participates in the sport of Major League Baseball. Manny’s contract is our new gravity, and now we have Sandra Bullock strength.
When Bruce Bochy comes to town this year we should give him the proper standing ovations during his first and last games at Petco Park, but an all out love fest can’t happen. The Machado arrival has cast an overall newness to the 2019 Padres product and that means we shouldn’t look back to the good old days. When we watch the burgeoning mentorship of Manny Machado to Fernando Tatis Jr, we’re not going to want to think about the past 50 years. After all, overdoing nostalgia hit its peak last year with the 1998 twenty year celebration. It was nice, but we’re done with all that as the centerpiece of what should be pulling us down to the ballpark.
I want to go down there to settle scores of the very recent past. Since the signing of Manny I’ve been thinking a lot about the first dirty play he could execute against the team he was forced to play with last season through a trade. I want to irrationally defend it and then I want Andy Green to shove Dave Roberts back. Even though I know this is a simple way to view the world, I want it anyway. There needs to be a pure reversal of what it felt like to hear more Dodgers Fans out cheer our boos for 2018 All Star Matt Kemp at Petco Park last year.
I want the Machado vs Arenado debate to get really serious and ugly with the people of Colorado. We’ll take shots at their third baseman for padding his stats at the higher elevation and they’ll threaten to take away our water. Bud Black can joke about whether or not Matt Holliday touched home plate being “just baseball”, but it shouldn’t be battered around like a funny and familiar bit anymore. It’s a reminder of who we were and what we should never be again.
Sure, this could all end badly. Manny could get hurt or rub everybody the wrong way. There are plenty of ways to be a disaster as a baseball team and committing 300 million dollars to a 26 year old doesn’t exempt you from that. However, this feeling now is important to savor. Machado hasn’t played in a Spring Training game yet, but everything feels different. It turns out the sizzle that was sold to us in 2015 was inside all of us the whole time. The brass just needed to make a big play to bring it out.
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