The San Diego Padres will be without their star player for the first half of the 2022 season after a motorcycle accident during the winter. But did the team handle the situation adequately, given the circumstances?
Let’s face it. If you are a San Diego Sports fan- you feel cursed.
In epic ways, the city has seen the failure of two professional sports teams (Clippers & Chargers), and it took the miracle of the 1998 season to save the Padres in America’s Finest City. For a sports fan in the area, you feel nothing but agony when it comes to professional sports.
The latest saga to grip the city is the loss of the Padres’ star player in arguably one of the most anticipated seasons in the history of the franchise.
In early December of 2021, Fernando Tatis Jr. was injured in a minor motorcycle accident. Upon hearing this news, most people’s immediate reaction was- what the hell was he doing on a motorcycle? Professional athletes are traditionally not allowed to partake in dangerous activities. In fact, playing pickup basketball games is typically shunned. So Tatis riding a motorcycle definitely raised some eyebrows.
With all that being said, major leaguers do ride motorcycles. Let’s not play stupid. Some occasionally will do things that could be deemed dangerous to many. There is an unwritten understanding that the player will not do anything to potentially injure himself while he is away from the club. At the same time, the franchise will generally look the other way if a player wishes to drive an expensive sports car, ride a motorcycle, or do anything else that could void his contract with the organization. The whole situation is complicated.
It gets even more complex when you factor in the CBA lockout that began on December 2. Tatis was reported to be injured in an accident only a few days after that date. The San Diego Padres were technically not allowed to speak to Tatis. But isn’t it in your best interest to make sure an investment like Tatis is okay after a motorcycle accident?
The situation is sticky, and the timing of the injury and the lockout are horrible if you are a Padres fan.
The whole situation really is a mess, but who is to blame? As a fan, it is difficult to wrap your head around the chain of events that are laid out before you.
Is Tatis to blame for the incident?
In short- yes.
When you sign a massive contract like that, you have a responsibility. It goes beyond the money. Literally, thousands upon thousands of people are counting on you. Your teammates, coaches, and player personnel are on top of the list. Not to mention the fans. The droves of people who chant your name and gladly wear your name on their back as they pay their hard-earned money to just get a glimpse of you playing the game of baseball.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is undoubtedly responsible.
This spring, a reporter asked the shortstop when the motorcycle accident occurred; Tatis replied, “Which one?” He failed to place a date on the accident accurately and remained vague for the entirety of the presser. This response added fuel to the fire. Does this imply there were multiple accidents involving a motorcycle? The flames of criticism are being directed towards Tatis, and there is no doubt he may have overstepped his bounds this winter with his free time.
The initial report from the D.R. indicated the accident was no big deal. According to Dominican reporter Baudilio Jiménez, Tatis was injured on a motorcycle and treated at a nearby medical center. Nothing huge to be worried about. You don’t want to see your superstar player on a motorcycle, but it’s not totally taboo. Tatis’ dad even commented in the media, “He is fine, in perfect condition,” Tatis Sr. said. “They treated him here; it’s not a big deal, just a fall—he scraped his knee and hands a little.”
The star player’s father, Fernando Tatis, initially denied reports that his son, Fernando Tatis Jr., was in a motorcycle crash in the Dominican Republic (h/t ESPN). Perhaps the fear of knowing his son was not correct in motorbiking around town led him to make these statements at first. A father will always protect his son. There is nothing wrong with that.
This whole situation will hopefully be a learning experience for the young star. Bob Melvin indicated in Peoria that Tatis’ days of riding motorcycles are over.
It is time to move on.
If the Padres knew he was injured in an accident, why not send a doctor to check him out?
This is the major question that cannot be ignored.
The CBA deal was being negotiated, and players were essentially estranged from the clubs, but Tatis is a major investment and a vital part of the team. Even if he insisted that he was fine, it is the team’s responsibility to check on him in person. The team failed in this regard, and here we are with the star player out for half of the 2022 season. In a year when the franchise has World Series ambitions.
Major League teams were not allowed to talk to players during the disagreement, but let’s put the politics and stickiness of the labor agreement aside and think about this on a logical level. Speaking to a pending free agent or another team about a potential trade during the lockout is wrong. That is clear. Checking in on your player and finding out about his health may be technically wrong, but who would place any blame on the Padres for making sure Tatis was 100 percent? Contacting Tatis and checking his health gives the Padres no advantage. Not at all.
The Padres did not need to do this on a business level either. There are plenty of men within the organization with the power and prestige to go on a vacation to the Dominican Republic. In taking this said vacation, the Padres representative would be accompanied by a professional doctor. The two men could pay a visit to Tatis on a personal level and make sure he is well.
Is that out of bounds? Wouldn’t the team want peace of mind and not rely on the player’s self-evaluation of his health?
Perhaps the Padres played it correctly in not potentially violating any rules. A.J. Preller and his staff certainly do not need more bad publicity in that department.
In the end, Padres fans lose their superstar player
If you are a bandwagon fan of this exciting team- welcome to San Diego sports fandom. This is just how it goes.
Fernando Tatis Jr. will return to Petco Park and the Padres. He will continue to be one of the most exciting players in the game of baseball. It is a shame that the incompetence and hesitation of some in the organization as well as the horrible timing of the situation will cost Tatis and Padres fans half a season. Again, if you’ve lived in San Diego long enough, you sadly get used to these things.