Padres fever is in full bloom with evidence in nearly every direction one looks.
Caps with the “SD” logo are no longer worn in jest.
TVs in eateries broadcasting the Padres isn’t a sign of someone channel surfing. Even in rare wipeouts, no one touches the dial to skip the local nine.
Petco Park is teeming with enthusiasm and we can’t fault an excited fan base which has endured eight consecutive losing seasons.
But will the first-place Padres remain atop the NL West? Maybe, maybe not and isn’t baseball a wonderful?
It’s zany, unpredictable and baseball determines when a team will win, not the other way around. Despite intricate plans of when this player will be summoned or when another will mature or when a third will blossom is all fancy guess work.
The Padres employ numerous smarty pants in their front office, led by general manager A.J. Preller. But Preller, an Encinitas resident, and the rest of the brass can’t really decipher baseball.
If baseball decides the Padres will be successful in 2019 instead of say, 2020 or 2021, there’s no need stiff-arming it. If San Diego eclipses more established clubs while climbing the standings, just think of it as a scene from “Free Solo.”
Is there danger accumulating hope around a rotation of pitchers that would have bouncers asking for their ID? — yep.
Are there pitfalls reading too much into a 11-7 start? — bingo.
Is it fool’s gold that Padres patrons spot in the spring waters? — possibly.
But what’s the upside in denying something unique is developing in the season’s early months that could make the latter ones significant? What better way to celebrate the team’s 50th year than by raising a glass to its resurgence.
If so, cheer Peter Seidler, the owner with the big bucks in the Padres’ executive group.
“We’re building something special here and as much as I love my alma mater I rather be here,” Seidler said.
Seidler’s Virginia was playing for the NCAA men’s basketball title recently. But Seidler declined tickets from former star Ralph Sampson, a college classmate and friend, to watch the Padres.
“I’d rather be at our ballgame,” Seidler said.
It was Seidler who scratched the $300 million check for Manny Machado. The All-Star third baseman has accelerated the Padres’ path to respectability, even if it came at an eye-widening price.
“You can’t deny the culture change in our clubhouse,” Seidler said. “It’s a good mix down there.”
Mix and match is what the Padres do, acquiring veterans like Ian Kinsler and Machado, while asking youngsters Fernando Tatis Jr., and Luis Arias to sit at the big-boy table.
“Then we have Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe taking their next steps,” Seidler added.
When the 25 players step out, they do so without 25 different Uber requests.
“What I’ve seen is there are no cliques and that the guys generally like each other,” Seidler said. “That’s what is great about baseball is that these young men from all parts of the world with different backgrounds show up and play with a smile on their face, regardless of what happened the previous days.”
What does the future hold?
“We’re going to be patient and keep building this thing because there is a lot of work still to be done,” he said. “But then again A.J. could do something in the next five minutes.”
The Padres relish their 15 minutes of fame and maybe their close-up is extended.
“We have a general manager who won’t stop until we reach our goal and I think you know what that is,” Seidler said.
In years’ past, it was to reach .500 and that remains a lofty dream for baseball’s youngest squad. But it’s evident that this isn’t the same old Padres.
Something is brewing at Petco Park and it’s just not the latest IPA with a Padres connection.