Normally, I hate looking at the
Arizona Diamondbacks. At this point in any other year the Padres would be
predictably out of contention and the team from Phoenix would stroll in to town
with their stupid uniforms and their boring players and both teams would merely
exist next to each other for a weekend of uninspired baseball that would
contractually need to happen so both teams could get to 162. However, like everything
else in 2020, the four games that were played at Petco Park to start off this
bizarre abbreviated season were something completely different.
I was furloughed from my job in the middle of March and have spent most of my pandemic time going one on one with an under socialized 4 year old while my wife has been working. A few weeks ago, when my son was able to return to his preschool 3 days a week, we bought cigarettes. So yeah, long story short, when my newly 40 year old indeed.com soaked brain encountered real baseball on Friday night, it definitely hit different. I needed baseball to be every corny thing I’ve spent my life building it up to be and it worked.
Back in the utopia that was 2019, Executive Chairman Ron Fowler set the premise for this season when he insisted that heads would roll if things didn’t get better. Personally, this was received as a classic dismissal of any responsibility for the very results that have happened under his watch. But the message was clear. GM AJ Preller would get to hire the next manager, make some more moves, and after all that, the blame would be left on his doorstep if the trajectory of the franchise remained the same.
With Americans dying at an alarming rate, our schools shut down, and the economy headed towards a doomsday scenario none of us have ever seen, coordination from the executive branch isn’t happening with state and local governments in any meaningful way. We all know this and we all try to get through it each day. Besides the obvious enjoyment of rooting for a successful team, the Padres going 3-1 at home in this weekend’s opening series was a refreshing reminder that the concept of chain of command isn’t impossible to execute. If institutions are going to fail all around us, AJ Preller cleanly taking an order and replacing Hunter Renfroe with Tommy Pham so the Friars can get on base more means we can find a vaccine.
Preller’s new manager Jayce Tingler set lineups that worked and didn’t really have any glaring gaffs with in game strategy. Eric Hosmer hit the ball on the ground and wasn’t the declining talent we all feared he was last year. Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet looked strong and the beefed up bullpen was used as a real weapon. Overall, the Padres displayed strong at bats up and down the lineup and heads in the front office felt safer because of it.
For now we can say the Padres are good in 2020 and the big fear of another overhaul that will set the franchise back seems like something we can hold at a distance if it tries to cough on us.
But the Marlins will probably ruin all of this for everyone. Major League Baseball didn’t want to do a bubble and thought Florida could handle an honor system. Now the attempt to salvage some of the lost revenue of missing 100 games is in jeopardy.
I’m trying to not engage with the Small sample size vs This is real debate when it comes to the Padres. If they don’t get to finish the season, this will just be what baseball looked like in the year where getting close to each other was indisputably dangerous. I was cynical before it got underway, but I don’t want to be that right now. The Padres are 3-1 and have a game tonight against the Giants. I believe they can win. I believe they’ve fixed everything, because that’s all I have seen. Believing the Padres will fall apart is a full time occupation. I need a new job.