The other day in a strange city I awoke having dreamt about Jerry Coleman, amongst other things.
In the dream, I didn’t recognize Jerry at first, and accused him, whoever he was, of falling down on the job, of not being “true” to the Padres’ cause. There was a third party there, at one turn, Don Orsillo, at another, Ted Leitner, who stared at me wide-eyed and slack-jawed, disbelieving that I would accuse one of the most beloved members of the Padres family of such things. It was then I realized it was J.C. I was belittling, and immediately I was filled with the most profound remorse. Jerry stood there in front of me near tears. Not true to the cause? The Padres’ cause? I had cut Jerry to the quick, soul-deep. I was a monster, practically a Dodger.
I couldn’t believe what I had done. Immediately I knew I had to make amends. “Oh my God, Jerry,” I said, “it’s you. I’m sorry.” I told him I had grown up listening to him on the radio, that his voice symbolized Padres baseball to me more than anything else, that in the 70s I would fall asleep listening to him call the action for some of the worst baseball teams of all time. As we all know, it doesn’t get any more Padres than Jerry Coleman, unless your name happens to be Tony Gwynn.
I then proceeded to give him the biggest, most loving bear hug I could muster, and he hugged me back, until we almost became one.
He forgave me and said the game was about to begin, and it was time for us to call it. He took his seat in the booth and I sidled up next to him, ready to provide my personal version of Padres color and analysis. Go Friars.
As spring training unfolds and we near the beginning of the 2018 season, the dream is taking shape for the Padres and the Taco Train, and J.C. is watching over us, ready to call the action.
People and pundits, peasants and poets, priests and prostitutes, parsons and prosecutors have been making all sorts of predictions about the Padres for the last 18 months. The Pads are aiming for 2019. Most likely, nothing will get serious until 2020. They’ll probably be ready to really compete in 2021. By 2022 and beyond, if the heavens align and the earth hasn’t imploded, the Pads might get on a run and be contenders for a healthy spell. Long live the go-go 20s. All hail the Future.
Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler, Andy Green, and most of all, A.J. Preller and Josh Stein, et al., had other ideas.
First, they extended Brad Hand when everyone thought they would trade him for yet more prospects. The numbers guys in the fan base hated this move. You ALWAYS trade relievers for prospects if you get the chance, their theory goes. The Padres’ brain trust had other ideas. They know how valuable Hand is and they view him as not just another “hot” reliever, but an elite reliever, one you can build a bullpen around. We shall ultimately see one way or the other, but score one for 2018.
Next, they made yet another move puzzling to the old ladies who like to dissect these things. They gave up a controllable young arm, albeit a prospect, for Freddy Galvis, a proven Major League shortstop with only one year remaining on his contract. Huh?, went Twitter. What? went the critics. Nobody gives up controllable, young pitching for any player with only a year left on his contract, much less a just above average player (considering both offense and defense) like Galvis. Trades like these went out with what? George W.? the advent of free agency? the St. Louis Browns? They certainly went out with the mathematics underlying Moneyball and the expected value of all baseball commodities, i.e., players.
But the Padres have been swimming against the tide since Preller arrived on San Diego’s shores in 2015, and this was no exception. Since Andy Green showed up, they’ve attempted to create “a culture” all their own and, in this case, they had for once owned up to it. In my book, what kind of “culture” was it to have a staff full of ground ball pitchers when any five-hopper hit six feet either side of the shortstop got through for yet another seeing-eye single? The worst kind of culture. The one where those in charge give lip service to that culture while expecting those down below in the trenches to pay the price when that culture turns out to be shit. Not living up to your own values is quite common in America – not to mention most of the globe – and the Padres had finally put their money where their mouth was attempting to rectify it. Fernando Tatis may be 2019, he may be the second coming of Carlos Correa, he may be number one in all our fanboy hardball fantasies, but Freddy Galvis is now, now being the only place any of us can truly exist. After a decade of embarrassment at the position, the Padres finally have a shortstop worth the jock he straps on every day. Score another one for 2018.
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