Here Come the Padres, Up Around the Bend

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi))

Credit: Jake Roth
Credit: Jake Roth

I was an ABC guy. Anybody but the Cubs. God had other things in store, however, and now I just have to get on with it. I had no real axe to grind, it’s just these Cubbies are so talented, so young, so well-constructed top to bottom with such an incredibly bright future that this, as they say, won’t be their last rodeo. We’re going to have to get used to this, and fast. And before we come out the other side, it’s going to get real ugly for the rest of us.

Other people are ABC, only in a different way. Anybody but the Christ. God has other things in store for them too, and basically everybody just has to get on with it. It’s the nature of the beast. I have no real axe to grind here either. It’s just that the Christ is so talented, so bold, so well-constructed by law and by spirit, with such an incredibly bright future that, as they say, this won’t be his last rodeo either. Everybody’s going to have to get used to this, but quick. And, as with the Cubbies, before we come out the other end, it’s going to get real ugly too.

The Padres offer an alternative. Yes, the poor, hapless, pitiful Padres. A laughingstock by any measure – be it the yardstick of the best team we’ve seen in generations, the Cubs, or the splendor of whatever beautiful, holy and true thing you believe in, be it the Christ or whatever – they fall infinitely short, so much so their story couldn’t be told without a laugh track on speed dial, as any normal audience would bully them out of the discussion with a mere contemptuous look, if not an outright passel of blows.

Truth is however, the world has one last hope: our little ol’ Padres. If San Diego is the beachhead of God’s Country – the promised land of the Promised Land as it were – then the Padres, in all their glorious metaphorical and religious connotations, are our last prayer. As go the Padres, so goes Middle Earth, as it were. As the apocalypse rages from Aleppo to Paris, from Tehran to Washington D.C., as Russian right-wing lunatics play global chess using alt-right vanilla wafers around the world as pawns, as state bureaucracies tax the last supper out of everybody’s mouth in an Orwellian spoof of Ayn Rand, as the wind cries Mary with Jimi playing guitar for the poor and dispossessed, as the Bible is turned on its head by self-righteous, moralistic wannabes espousing mindless, Medieval witness to our post-modern ancient times, a light is needed. The light won’t come from Chicago or the Cubs. Commodity exchanges come from Chicago. Southern blues turned into 45s come from Chicago. Black on black violence comes from Chicago. The light does indeed shine there, as it shines in all places, but it doesn’t come from there. The light comes from San Diego.

How do I know this? I saw it on a map once, the “I Am America” map showing the future of America. On it the West Coast – pretty much everything from Seattle to LA – is leveled off, wiped out in other words. Who knows? I guess the rising sea levels got it, if nuclear devastation didn’t first. But not San Diego. San Diego sits there hard and firm, a big, bright star hovering over it as if Bethlehem on a winter’s night so many years back. San Diego is holy land, Tierra Santa. San Diego survives. San Diego not only points, but leads the way to the future. San Diego is the light.

You laugh at me I know. You say, “ABC? I’ll show you ABC. Anybody but this clown.” You say, “Map, what map? I don’t know any I Am America map, and so what if I did? It’s just a meaningless, pathetic map.” I couldn’t agree more. Maps can lead many directions, and as any good physicist will tell you, inevitably they lead to all of them. No worries, I still got your back.

Or should I say, the Padres do. Putting our faith in such a preposterously inept organization with conceivably the most inglorious history of any currently operating North American sports franchise takes a big leap, quantum even. It might be a bigger leap than we’re capable of. The Padres may be forced to reach down into our souls and lift us up and carry us, at least to get started. This is what the Taco Train of which I have been writing is all about. The Taco Train is here to serve, at your pleasure. Sure, the Taco Train can’t live without us, but we can’t live without the Taco Train either. It’s the slow train coming, up around the bend.

Credit: USA Today Sports
Credit: USA Today Sports

That last line is a Dylan lyric, for all you not in the know. You should be in the know, but that’s for another day. The point is we aren’t going to be able to survive without the Taco Train, our very life most likely depends on it. This naturally falls under the “one thing leads to another” law of life. When things are darkest (and they are far from it yet), when all hope seems lost (and hope is not a thing one can actually lose), when times are tough (and we’re just getting started), the Taco Train shall be there. Even if you’re not a baseball fan. Even if you’re Joseph the Chaldean working overnight shifts at the 7/11 and all you dream about is Messi. The Taco Train will be there for you. Even if you’re Leon from Encanto scraping by as a janitor or a bus driver, worried about nothing but the kids you never get to see, with absolutely no time to worry about a silly old baseball game, the Taco Train will be there for you. If you’re Suzanne the Yoga teacher who secretly dreams about taking Leonard Cohen down to the river, the Taco Train will be all yours. Even if all you do is surf every free hour of every free day in your very free life in this very free nation, the Taco Train will one day set you free as well.

Sure, I’m just the guy who woke up at 2 am not sure how I was going to pass the morning until I had to be at work at 7. I fell asleep on the couch last night watching Game 7, knowing while I was watching it was an instant classic, but also knowing the result all the same. Destiny is a funny thing. You can’t bottle it, but you can decipher it. We are all destined for the Taco Train. Whether Hillary or Donald wins, the nightmare will continue. Whether Aleppo or Mosul fall, the nightmare will continue. Whether marijuana is legalized or not, the nightmare will continue. Whether you believe me or don’t believe me, the nightmare will continue. Nightmares are just another word for the scars of the psyche and the fears of the soul. The Taco Train shall save the day.

The Taco Train will be there for us, for many of us when we least expect it. That’s how these things work. The Chargers – the Electric Bolt of the Apocalypse – are coming up around the bend too. Suddenly they have multiple impact players on both sides of the ball. The future is incredibly bright for them. They won’t win the Super Bowl this year – too many major injuries in conjunction with a coach and coaching staff that suffer from consistent and contemptible paralysis at the most perplexing and inopportune times. But the team’s future knows no limits. I have no crystal ball on this one, I don’t pay close enough attention. I don’t know if the Chargers are leaving town or reshuffling the deck to set up permanent residency. If they stay, the Electric Bolt and the Taco Train will blaze an incendiary trail together.

So I say to you now on my 3rd cup of coffee, my 7th level of reason, and from my deepest and wildest part of my imagination: love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul while in equal measure loving your neighbor, no matter who they voted for or what they stand for or even, in fact, whether or how they stand at all. You don’t have to be best friends with them, you just have to love them. If you’re ABC – the second one, not the first – then simply know the most profound thing anyone can do in this world is to love – be it your grandmother, your team, your sacred partner or your one and only sacred breath, or, maybe most importantly, your sacred enemy. The Taco Train is based on the idea the Padres promised long ago when they invaded this neck of the woods and set back civilization hundreds of years: thy kingdom or queendom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. A simple phrase. Rolls off the tongue. Not very well understood. But when the Taco Train is rounding the bases and heading for home, and the laugh track on speed dial has turned into applause bound for glory, and the wind is crying Mary as the Last Supper makes its last stand by supping with the last of the hungry, the ugliness will cease. From the other side of the darkness we shall stand up and say, “I am America”, on Tierra Santa and with the light of the southern blues shining squarely in our eyes. Will you be prepared to meet it? Will you put your best face forward? It’s not too late, it’s never, ever too late.

And if you don’t believe any of this and are just idling time reading a ridiculous and wasteful blog wondering dang, I’m just a fan and anyway I don’t believe in Jack Shit in this crazy, crazy world, no worries, you aren’t the only one. Just do me a favor and always remember how I started all this: ABC. It also means Anybody but Caesar. They used to say that back in the day too.

At least that’s what the maps told me.

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Scott Olesen
I was at the Kirby/Gomez "no hitter" Curse game. I was at the Holy Roller game. Though I love the man and what he did for the Padres, I cried when they retired Steve Garvey's number. By my estimation I witnessed in person, watched on tv or listened on the radio to over 3,000 of Tony's 3,141 hits. Jerry Coleman's initials aren't J.C. for no reason.

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