Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wrapped Up

By Nick McCann

Chris Young's first start since May 21 was a success, throwing five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Arizona's Doug Davis held the Padres hitless for 6 2/3 innings before Brian Giles singled in the seventh. Clay Hensley took the loss- the wrap up on last night’s Padre game against the Diamondbacks from posted this morning.

I can’t decide if the Padres are like the heroin addict in the family that everyone has given up on, who doesn’t get invited to family functions, and forces everyone close to him to change their locks. Or if they are like a pack of annoying teenagers that come up to you in a mall and make a joke at your expense that only makes sense to them. Nobody wants to know a heroin addict-unless they deal heroin. And nobody really wants teenagers for anything-unless you are a stage parent for a cast member of High School The Musical.

Last night I decided to watch Sex In The City (again) with my girlfriend instead of the Padre game. At the beginning of the season, when we decided on what to watch in the evening, she would politely ask if I wanted to watch the Padre game. It is usually on when we both get home, and well, she knows how I feel about the Pads. As the season has gone on she has stopped asking because when ever I glance at the Padres during a game while flipping between channels, I get really upset. Not post super bowl statistic upset, but she understands that I don’t want to be a Cleveland Browns fan freezing my ass off at Municipal Stadium every winter trying to prove that I am truly faithful.

Now days, I wake up and check the same paragraph every morning on the Internets. The Padres’ wrap up is quick, easy, and stripped of hometown “let’s look at the positive” bias.

Today, in checking what I HAVE to check, I found out that Chris Young still gives you 5 good innings of work, even after a smashed face, while Doug Davis can give you over six innings of good work when pitching to a Triple A ½ team. I also learned that Brian Giles still can hit a single, and Above all, I learned Clay Hensley is back on the team, and that nationally, his name means a pitcher who gives up three earned runs.

I care more about getting coffee this morning than watching the game tonight. This series should have been a meaningful series, but now it is just a few sad paragraphs similar to…(see: above).

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Two Uncles

By Nick McCann

Last night I had Mexican food with my two cool (and only) uncles. They are my mom’s two older brothers and they don’t have any sons. Steve, a doctor from Pittsburgh, is a Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates fan, while my other uncle, Jay, is a Dodgers, Giants, Warriors, San Jose Sharks, Lakers, Raiders, and USC fan who has lived in the Bay Area for most of his adult life. Steve really only cares about tennis, and Jay is a republican that still rooted for Barry Bonds after 2003, because in context of sports, he has been infected by the evil that comes along with being a Raiders fan.

Whenever the three of us get together, the state of our teams always set the tone for the shit talking that takes place. Last night, I took shit from a Pirates fan because they are better than us this year. This didn’t feel good, because they aren’t that much better. The Pirates are in the middle of a record breaking 16th straight losing season, and their fans have the upper hand on us, because we are on their level, even though we expect more. We are kind of like Molly Ringwald having to hang out with Anthony Micheal Hall in detention.

The whole evening was for the purpose of my uncles to meet my girlfriend. Basically, I was sitting there with a shit talking Pirates fan that had joined forces with a Dodger/Giants/Raiders/GOP fan, only to be indirectly aided by my girlfriend- a spoiled Boston sports fanatic who thinks the NL is a JV league.

But hey, we split the series with Pirates. I guess it could have been worse.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Great Moments in Padres History: A Photo Series, Vol. 2

by Joe Chandler

Scott O'Malley used to lovingly refer to this as the "Donne Wall Commemorative Photo."

I like to call it, "Eternally Tarnished."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Training Camp is Here

By Nick McCann

The Padres’ 2008 season is officially no longer a concern for San Diego Sports fans. Finding a way to make 2009 better is the only thing that really matters at this point.

Next year, the front office will make a few improvements and the disappointing players from this year’s squad that stick around will not feel as bad. This will leave the Padres at the end of next season somewhere around 500, and the organization will be able to sell an “improving young team with a future” all year long. The attendance at Petco will rise, while the Diamondbacks’ young talent will mature. The Padres will not be in the playoffs in 2009 and it will feel like an achievement even though it won’t matter.

However, this time is strange for San Diego because while the 2008 Padres are likely to finish in the bottom 4 of the teams in Major League Baseball, The 2008 Chargers are likely to land in the top 2 or 3 at year's end. Everyone in the world is picking the Chargers to win the AFC West again, half of those people are picking them to go to the Super Bowl, and half of those people are picking them to win it.

The overwhelming adoration from football pundits around the globe towards the San Diego is comforting, but in the back of my head, I feel like they are just looking at our roster on paper and not realizing the simple fact about San Diego in the context of sports: we are a Cinderella city at best. And even if we make it to the ball and put on the glass slipper (or however that worthless story goes), our misguided expectations will probably weigh us down enough to cause the glass slipper to shatter and slice up our feet in 23 different ways.

Sorry, for being negative. 23 is the amount of points the Chargers lost to the 49ers by in Superbowl 29. This Padres season feels like we are re-living the afternoon of that superbowl with every day, week, and disappointing young talent exposed, that goes by.

Training camp has begun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Padres Are Sellers

By Josh Elwell

Being in Uganda, Africa, I don't have much time to keep up on Padres news (or write articles for TKF – as you can tell). So, needless to say, my mind was blown when I snuck some Internet time today to see the big trade that went down last week: TONY CLARK TO THE D'BACKS!

After catching it on MLB Trade Rumors, and seeing it on Nick's post below, I immediately fled over to Paul DePodesta's blog to get his spin on it, and my goodness does our new Single-A pitcher sound exciting.

I didn't mind looking up any other facts about him. I trust our Special Assistant to Kevin Towers to give it to me hard and straight (just like he gives it to ol' KT).

His insightful analysis led me to believe that Jake Peavy has a new co-ace in the wings. Move over CY – Yous gots yoself some competition! Yee-haw!

Next time I get some slick, developing-world Internet access, I am sure I'll see Randy Wolf traded for a Single-A CF who makes Jacoby Ellsbury look like yesterday's news; that's just the kind of high-level trades the Padres know how to make.

Oh, and I caught myself up on last weekend's sweep by the Cardinals.

Being in Africa and having the Padres continue their streak of suckiness has proved to me that they're truly an international failure.

Raise your glasses, and say it with me: 'To 2009!' Now, chug.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Tony Clark Era is Over

By Nick McCann

Look at this picture below and try to guess what Tony Clark is doing.

Did you guess nothing? If so, you are right. Sadly, he did that the whole time he was a Padre.

But at least he was local.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Second Half Starts Tonight

By Nick McCann

There are no second acts in American lives.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Padres start the second half of their season tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. Jake Peavy will start and hopefully his signature sense of urgency will light a fire under the Pads to turn this season around. With the youth movement set into place with the recent promotions from Triple A, at least we can look and see who is worth bringing back next year. It could be a tough few months. It could be painfully disappointing. It could be as boring as this:

F. Scott drank alot.

I encourage everyone to watch the entire series in St. Louis very closely. They are not having their best year due to injury, but they do, and always have had a pretty decent product on the field. St. Louis is a smaller sports market, but their fanbase is completely focused on baseball, so they do spend top ten payroll money. Is this because their front office has always been operated with a legit sense of consideration for the fans? I've heard it is the perfect baseball city, much like I have heard The Great Gatsby is the perfect American novel. I guess I'll never understand what we are doing wrong, and if the Padres can't turn things around in the second half, I will never understand why Fitzgerald has to be right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Matters

By Nick McCann

Now that the All-Star Game matters, it has become even more frustrating than it already was because it means I get sucked in more easily. It is an exhibition game, but it affects the end of the season and this has added more annoying elements to an already annoying annual discussion that can’t seem to stop from happening. In the weeks before the game, people get really upset about who makes it, and who doesn’t make it, and then the game happens, and usually sucks.

Before the new rule about the postseason, when the game happened to be good, it always felt disappointing that it didn’t really matter. It should be cooler now, because it does “matter”, but it isn’t, because the managers never treat it that way. Now, the manager has to try to win, and still hold onto the old code of how an exhibition game-involving other managers’ players-should be handled.

The All-Star Game just needs to happen a week after the World Series in Hawaii. The players would love it, fans would watch, and nobody would miss the Mid Summer Night’s Dream that never goes away, because it would be one less thing shoved down our throats.

Want to read about things I hate about the All-Star Game? Good!

It is half way through the season and the fans get to vote on who starts.
In a perfect world, fans would take into account the performance of the players in the second half and postseason of the previous year. Hot shit rookies usually overshadow performances from late in the season before and Asia apparently has discovered that they can vote on the Internet (Fukadome? Okay, maybe that frustration is carried over from Yao Ming being a starter for the West in the NBA as a rookie). If things were fair, 7 members of the 2007 Rockies would have been on the team after their insane winning streak last September. If you look at the NFL (which apparently you do), their All-Star Game is at the end of the season and it doesn’t matter. The NFL could also buy and sell MLB about 4 times over if it wanted to.

Within the game, the managers always use the best players first and take them out too early.
It’s fine if you want it to be a fluff game to let little kids see the stars, but if it is going to matter, they should somehow be forced to manage the game like they would if they had-I don’t know-a team of All-Stars and it-I don’t know- was supposed to MATTER if they won. Last night Terry Francona took A-Rod out in the middle of an early inning just so he could wave to the New York crowd. I guess he is a true Yankee now. What a lucky star!

Moving on.

Tim McCarver
Should be put down Old Yeller style.

If a team is going to burn all it’s pitchers early in the game, they should be forced to make a position player pitch if it comes down to that.
Last night, as the game went on and on, the one thing that held my attention to finish watching the game was that the American League was running out of throwers. The announcers kept stressing that Scott Kazmir was the last pitcher the AL could use and that he had a very set pitch count to stick to. It was captivating television because it forced me to wonder what Terry Francona would do. If he pulled Kazmir, would he forfeit and give up a home field advantage for his Red Sox club that has a good chance of being in the Word Series? Would Bud Selig find a new way to make one of his own mistakes even worse? I really wanted to see JD Drew come in from right field and try to strike out Adrian Gonzalez. But that would never happen in an All-Star Game because the game is the ultimate display of confident and prideful dudes’ dudes, where the underling theme for all participants is that nobody wants to embarrass them selves. Nobody really wants to play, but nobody wants to be left out of the fraternity. If Jose Canseco was in the game this wouldn't be a problem, because he would gladly embarrass himself. But it would be a problem because the All-Star Game creates problems compounded by problems that never go away.

This bitching probably isn’t fair. I wanted to watch a Netflix movie last night, but sticking with a 15-inning game that matters, will always matter to me, and I will probably be back next year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barry Zito

By Nick McCann

I’m really glad to see the Padres bring up half of their roster from Triple A Portland. This season is over and they know it. Sure, you can still hear executives talk about how they don’t know if they are out of it on Mighty 1090 in the afternoon, but that is just because they still need to sell some tickets. Basically the Padres have decided to become what the Giants were supposed to be at the beginning of the year: a team using the season to develop young talent.

However, the Giants realized this in the beginning of the season and now they are a semi-respectable team within the context of the least respectable division in baseball. Everything they do right is a surprise bonus, and everything they do wrong is excused; except one gloriously awesome mistake: Barry Zito.

Barry Zito is a good looking guy. I can say it. Today, when a little boy buys a pack of baseball cards (HA!) with Barry Zito in it and shows the pack to his heterosexual sister to see who she thinks is attractive, she will probably say Barry Zito is the hottest of the bunch. If the sister is in the process of discovering that she is gay, she can also easily imagine Barry with long hair and still think he is hot. Kids are amazing!
Barry Zito also believes he can play guitar like Dave Matthews. And in interviews-before becoming a shell of himself- he would constantly wax on about how he preferred surfing to pitching. He is basically David Wells minus the unapologetic drinking with a few Jack Johnson ripoffs in his (ahem) catalog.
As far as I am concerned, there are two types of native San Diegans: People who to went Uni High and people hate people who went to Uni High. Barry Zito went there, so the fact that his 126 million contract is setting up to be possibly the worst signing in the history of sports, is very exciting for me and people who didn’t go to high school with the Walton brothers.
The 2008 Giants are probably my favorite team in Major League Baseball right now because they no longer have Barry Bonds, they are not the Padres' rival, and they allow me to watch a Uni High Alum suffer at 4-12 while earning almost as much as the Florida Marlins combined.
The Padres signed Mark Prior (a high school teammate of Zito's) to a small fraction of Barry's contract, but at least he never tries to sing.

The Kept Faith officially endorses the San Francisco Giants as the acceptable 3rd place team in the division as long as they spoil things for the Dodgers and Barry Zito loses 20 games.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Badass (not the Mario Van Peebles Movie)

By Nick McCann

Last week former San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley agreed to settle his lawsuit against a police officer who shot him off-duty two years ago and ended his pro football career.

The player was shot in his leg, hip and hand in September 2006 after off duty officer Aaron Mansker followed his car home on suspicion the driver was drunk.

Foley attorney Harvey Levine, said the settlement was reached with Officer Mansker and his employer, the City of Poway, before testimony resumed in the week-old civil trial.
Foley will receive 5.5 million in compensation.
Steve Foley looked like an NFL Linebacker should look because he looked like a badass motherfucker. Badass motherfuckers are guys who right away make you believe that nobody has ever even thought about trying to fight them in public. The difference between scary motherfuckers and badass motherfuckers is very simple. Scary motherfuckers look normal, but surprise you by the scary things they do. Badass Motherfuckers make you believe they have already done them. The best example of this comes from the Police Academy Movie Franchise: Hightower was a Baddass Motherfucker because he intimidated everyone he came across and Tackleberry was a scary motherfucker because he always pulled out a gun in every situation. Both were powerful in their own way, but different in their approach.

On the night where Steve Foley lost his NFL career, he was unfortunate to be a Baddass motherfucker. If his former teammate Doug Flutie, a scary motherfucker in his own right, was doing the same thing that night, would he have gotten shot? Maybe. You never know when you are going to run into an off duty scary motherfucker in Poway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Losing to The Marlins Rant

By Nick McCann

Last night the Padres lost to a Florida Marlins team that spends a quarter of the payroll and plays to a home crowd that is on average a third of the size. Usually when that thought passes through my mind during a Florida win over the Padres, the next thought naturally passes through my head: they have been a franchise for 15 years and they already have 2 rings.

The first part of the first half of this season was frustrating, and now I have just become numb. The other day, I heard Mark Grant and Matt Vasgersian plan a gay road trip to Sedona Arizona. I caught the end of it and I only hope there was an Axl Rose Chinese Democracy joke in it. The bit was funny but, it was definitely material appropriate for a team in last place, who is probably losing in the ratings to reruns of The House Wives of Orange County on Bravo (I find rooting for the crazy blonde Italian A personality wife who can’t let go of her kids, to be more enjoyable than watching Khalil Greene try really really hard).

The All Star Game is coming up, and not only is it always the biggest waste of time every year, this year, the Padres are the worst team in the league and they have only one player selected to go. Sure, Adrian Gonzalez would make it onto the team in most years, but it feels forced knowing that every team has to have at least one player in the game.

A few years ago, when the Tigers were the Padres, Dimitri Young went hitting 260 with 13 bombs (those numbers are what it feels like when I remember it. I refuse to look up the numbers of Dimitri Young). Years later, he would go on to beat the shit out of a woman at a gas station, but hey, he still is an All-Star.

Adrian doesn’t really show his emotions and he is having a great year, but I feel bad for him because he is the guy that had to go no matter what. He is kind of like the ugly girl who is forced by her parents to go the dance, who ends up sitting in the corner wondering if anybody cares.

Well they probably don't. But I care Adrian. Let’s go to Sedona and see how Axl is doing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

He Teaches Metal Sound

By Nick McCann

Last Wednesday, while attending the Padres/Twins disaster, I walked away from my seat to go buy some fried calamari. I knew ingesting squid at a baseball game was wrong, but everything I could ever possibly desire is available at Petco Park, so I ate it anyways. While waiting in line, I listened in on a conversation between a bored late 20s to mid 30s father and a five year old kid with ice cream all over his face, standing in front of me in line. At one point I heard the kid say to his dad, “I wish we had Tony Gwynn back. He would make us win!” This kid never saw Gwynn play, but he knew he loved him.

I’m constantly having conversations about love with people who say they haven’t ever been in love before. They always ask me whether or not I still define the times I have said I was in love as still being real love whenever I look back. People ask these questions because they are fascinated with the power of love that Huey Lewis sang about. The only thing that can really be learned when you are in love is that it is just plain powerful. The moment that you realize its power is the moment you realize you will never need to ask anybody again what it feels like, if you can do anything about it, or more importantly, if you can ever dismiss those older feelings of love to yourself in an honest way. When you have never felt in love, you think that love might be something that you can be better at; as if there was a certain skill set that can be developed to make you better at loving. This is not possible because you can’t get better at a feeling that raises the stakes that high. If you have ever been in love, you know there is no way to control it and there is no way to prepare yourself for its danger.

I don’t remember a moment in my life where I didn’t love Tony Gwynn. And there has never been a specific instance where I decided I loved him; I just always have. However, the older I get, the more I understand Tony Gwynn for what he really is. I believe Tony Gwynn is the greatest Padre of all time, and I don’t think that will ever change because the Padres will probably never have a player who will have a better career staying completely with the team, and because he possesses a deeply rooted control over the way the team is perceived. No player, manager, front office executive, or owner, can ever take this power away from him, because in San Diego, nobody can ever love another Padre as much as he is loved.

Is this fair? In the reality that Tony Gwynn has created as a player, and as a symbol in the community, fair is something we use our faith in him to believe in. Not only is Tony always right, he has successfully taken on a persona that defines what is right.

Besides his self-destructive eating habits that made the end of his career less productive than it could have been, he was also too talented a hitter to be the specialist that he was. Sure, it is a blessing to have a guy who never strikes out, and can hit the ball anywhere he wants to move a runner, but he could have hit more homeruns. Isn't it a little suspect that Gwynn always seemed focused on keeping his average up? If his average fell below 315 fans freaked out. Batting Average is a stat that looks good in the record books even if you miss a lot of games in a season. I’ll never be convinced that he always had the team in mind when he was on the field. I don’t believe he sabotaged anything, but I think he consciously specialized his game more than he should have to the detriment of the team.

If Gwynn gained a selfish streak when the front office was destroying the team in the early 90s, it would not be wrong of him; it would make him a human. But we were made to believe his talent wasn’t. He was marketed during his playing days as the ultimate scientist of hitting at the major league level. Yet, he has never made an attempt to be a Major League hitting coach in his post-playing career. Instead, he has managed a mediocre college baseball team at San Diego State where he operates on his own terms at a stadium that projects his name on the centerfield fence. When he is not doing that, he spends his time in the booth on Channel 4, dominating a broadcast owned and produced by the Padres. Tony’s complete lack of a sense of humor strips Matt Vasgergian of his comic testicles, and his commentary can never be questioned…ever.
Tony Gwynn sits on top of college mesa as king and the Padres pay him to come down from time to time to let the people hear him speak. We listen, not because we want to hear the truth, but because to us, during a Padre game, the sound of his voice is truth.

Is this year’s squad any better than one of Tony’s forgettable teams? If Tony Gwynn from 1989 was inserted into our lineup and Brian Giles vaporized into thin air (as he should), would the Padres be that much better? Tony Gwynn wouldn’t have a legit leadoff batter to move, and he wouldn’t be able to breathe youth into Trevor Hoffman’s arm. The truth is if Tony Gwynn were on the 2008 Padres, he would make this losing season feel okay. And we would love him for it no matter how dangerous that is.

When that kid standing between me and my squid said we needed Gwynn back, I only heard one sound violently shatter through my head.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When Athletes Sing

By Nick McCann

The Padres won last night, but again, I decided to watch something else because I assumed they would lose. I guess I was wrong. I guess I want to be wrong more often when it comes to my team.

This morning on the Jim Rome Show, Jim could not shut up about Shane Foster, a NBA second round draft pick, from Vanderbilt, who wrote a song about getting drafted into the NBA and performed it on Youtube. Anybody who thinks NBA players are all overpaid stuck up ego maniacs who have everything handed to them, need to hear Shane sing. He was projected, and drafted in the second round where there is no gurantee that he will make an NBA roster. What you are looking at is a young man who is just happy to get a shot:

He isn't Flannery, but he is coming from the same place.