The Padres swept the Reds! The ship has been righted! Ok, maybe not, but it sure was a nice little reprieve from all the losing. But what’s bumming me out about the Padres isn’t the losing. Heck, I’m a lifelong Padres fan, I’m very used to losing, and I wasn’t expecting anything this year, although that 9-3 start almost tricked me. Nah, what’s bumming me out is there is no one on the team that grabs my attention on a regular basis, so I am consistently bored with the product. .
On the bad Padres teams of the 80’s and 90’s, I always had Tony Gwynn. Watching Tony hit was like watching Picasso paint (I imagine). And to a large extent it made the losing years bearable. Nowadays there is no one on the Padres who captures my imagination. It probably has more to do with being an old fart now, as my Gwynn obsession began when I was in 7th grade. Probably not healthy for someone my age to become infatuated with a professional baseball player. But still. What do I have now? Jake Peavy? Absolutely. Except that he a) pitches every five days, b) will probably be traded any day now, and c) the Padres never score enough runs for him to be rewarded for his efforts (yes he won Sunday, getting a whopping three runs to work with). Adrian Gonzales is the closest thing I've got. If he manages to keep doing what he's been doing (I would like to see a higher batting average; I tend to be a BA whore - before Gwynn, Rod Carew was my favorite player) and somehow develop a personality, we could be back in business.
I guess I’ve set the bar pretty high, asking for another Gwynn. But if we’re gonna lose, I need something to keep me interested. Losing in a boring fashion with boring players is not working.
Which reminds me of this Malcolm Gladwell article in last week’s New Yorker (living in California, my issue comes four days late). The story is about “Davids” and “Goliaths”. Basic point being when David plays by Goliath’s rules, David loses. When David comes up with a strategy that nuetralizes and/or eliminates Goliath’s strengths, David has a chance, and more often than not, wins. Gladwell uses a few different examples, a girl’s basketball team who uses the press consistently to defeat more skilled teams, TE Lawrence blowing up railroads rather than confronting the Ottomans (since strategies in girl's basketball should always be extrapolated to WWII strategy, ha). Gladwell's article, as usual, has taken a lot of flak, but I liked it. Should the Padres take notes?
What options are there? We have no trade prospects short of Peavy and Gonzalez. While I expect Peavy to go, and I understand the reasons, but Adrian cannot go. He's all we have. Nobody else on the current roster will return anything above mediocre. The farm system blows. There are really no good answers short of a Gladwell-esque re-imagining of the game of baseball.
So, how do you do that ? In basketball, you can do something like the press. In football, you can use a new scheme like the run ‘n shoot or the A-11 offense, which will be successful until your opponent figures out a response. But baseball? I have no idea. Gaslamp Ball suggests the Padres should use midgets. A rotation specializing in the eephus? Screwball? Hire a bunch of track stars and have them master the art of bunting for base hits?
Help us Malcolm Gladwell, you're our only hope.