Unicycles and Delusion
One option would be to stay away from the games, to stop caring altogether. Another would be to wallow in the hangover of 99 losses and declare all decisions a disaster before they are even conceived, let alone executed. The more radical among you might prefer simply to enjoy a fine day at the ballpark and the respite it brings from more mundane concerns.
Losing sucks, but it beats going to work.
Enough with the pep talk. What's actually happening with the Padres?
There is a theory, backed by data, that Petco Park significantly benefits pitchers. There is another theory that every theory breaks at some point. Well, maybe; I just made that up. The important point is that the current staff is going to crank every faucet in the house at the same time and see if the pipes hold. But it won't be a one-time test; it'll be a way of life.
If you like offense, you go to Coors Field. If you like pitching, you go to Petco Park. If you can't figure out what the heck you like, try watching the Padres this year. Ask yourself exciting philosophical questions such as, "How bad can a pitcher be and still derive benefits from that ballpark?" Perhaps the environment -- when inhabited by the likes of Cha Seung Baek, Kevin Correia, and Josh Geer -- will collapse. It could be that both Petco Park and the rotation will be annihilated when they collide. I'm not saying it's likely, but you have been warned.
Silk Print Shirts and Bowlers
On the bright side, Jake Peavy and Chris Young are still here for now. Peavy is very outspoken and Young is very tall. If baseball doesn't work out for them, they would make a great comedy team. I have visions of Peavy cracking wise and Young playing the straight man. Maybe they could solve murder cases together and have a boss who can't abide by Peavy's behavior but who can't afford to part with him either. Peavy would wear silk print shirts and Young would don a bowler. Wackiness would ensue, probably over some minute misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, the bullpen is going to get a lot of work. That is thrilling if your name is Chris Britton or Mark Worrell, and you've always wanted to pitch in the big leagues. It is thrilling also if you are a fan. I am obligated here to mention that an old definition of "thrill" is "To perforate by a pointed instrument; to bore; to transfix; to drill."
I didn't say it would be fun. I said it would be thrilling.
Amusingly, and a point that is missed by many, the strength of this team will continue to be the offense. It will be disguised by Petco Park, of course, but Brian Giles will get on base, Adrian Gonzalez will mash, and Chase Headley will have worked through his awkward phase -- at the plate, at least; defense is a different story. Pray for everyone's health when the ball is hit his way. It may not help, but at least you'll feel proactive.
Like a Slow Corey Patterson
Kevin Kouzmanoff puts another theory to the test. Seven men have struck out 130 times or more in a season while drawing 25 walks or fewer (arbitrary points, but you get the idea):
Bo Jackson, 1988, age 25: .246/.287/.472, 25 BB, 146 SO
Cory Snyder, 1989, age 23: .215/.251/.360, 23 BB, 134 SO
Alfonso Soriano, 2002, age 23: .300/.332/.547, 23 BB, 157 SO
Corey Patterson, 2002, age 22: .253/.284/.392, 19 BB, 142 SO
Jeff Francouer, 2006, age 22: .260/.293/.449, 23 BB, 132 SO
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 2008, age 26: .260/.299/.433, 23 BB, 139 SO
Carlos Gomez, 2008, age 22: .258/.296/.360, 25 BB, 142 SO
We can learn two things from this: First, do not name your kid Cor(e)y. Second, it's easier to get away with these things if you have football in your hip pocket as a backup plan. Sorry, did I say hip? My bad.
Oh, you were looking for a useful lesson. Okay, here's one: If you are not Alfonso Soriano, don't attempt this strategy.
The stupid part is I actually think Kouzmanoff can hit. But that's just from watching him; the numbers make my head explode. It's like the tired old saw, "I need that like I need a slow Corey Patterson." And if that isn't a tired old saw, it should be.
The shenanigans aren't limited to on-field activities either. Matt Vasgersian hopped in his El Camino of the Imagination (with apologies to Carl Sagan and anyone who lives in Missouri) and schlepped off to Jersey to do the MLB Network thing.
Ownership is changing hands as we speak. John Moores, who once rescued San Diego from Roseanne Barr's former boss, is now being rescued by Manny Ramirez's former agent. As they say, the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had.
Payroll isn't expected to change. Neither is fan cynicism or disinterest. Weather will continue to be numbingly benign, and most of us will have our health. One hundred losses is a possibility, as is a World Championship. Other possibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Completing a triathlon
- Winning the lottery
- Flying to the moon
- Getting trapped in an oil painting
Be ready. Lack of preparation is not an excuse.
Still, I find the irresistible/immovable nature of this year's pitching staff at Petco Park... irresistible. Hey, we all have our perversions -- some are more interesting than others.
I want to see how far a Geer fastball will travel in that ballpark. I want to watch Headley ride around on his unicycle in left field. I want to bask in the glow of my own delusion.
I want to hang out and enjoy the games, no matter how hard anyone tries to kill my buzz with their so-called "reality." Is that so much to ask? Well, is it?
Geoff Young covers the San Diego Padres at Ducksnorts, and is a regular contributor to Baseball Daily Digest and Hardball Times. He has written three books about the Padres, the most recent being the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual, published in March 2009. Geoff lives in San Diego with his wife and two dogs.