All this hoopla about the retired numbers being moved has brought me to do something that I thought I would never do. I am going to write about them. Not typically the type of subject we cover here at East Village Times. We tend to stick to more relevant things about the team and is play on the field. However this is just getting crazy.
The retired numbers were erected and unveiled around mid-season in 2004. I never really cared for their placement, but was really indifferent about them. I admit the placement was unique, but not exactly the area I would choose to honor the teams greatest players. For those numbers to be sun-rotted and stained with bird poop on top of the batter’s eye was not exactly a tribute in my mind. That is just my opinion however.
I understand that people got used to seeing them there. I also remember the fantastic tribute that was given to Tony Gwynn on that night when we all said goodbye to him. His illuminated number in a dark Petco Park was a great memory for Padres fans. That right there is really my only remembrance of the numbers and their significance to the team. When you think of Petco Park, your memory is not of the retired numbers and their location. Or at least mine isn’t.
The Padres history is something that needs to be embraced. I 100 percent agree on this statement, but I don’s see the relocation of these numbers as sacrilegious to Padres faith. The numbers have been there for a little over 11 years. Yes that is when Petco opened, I understand they couldn’t be there any earlier, but they are hardly iconic. Those numbers, as far as where they are placed, are not a historical monument to the team. For a 20-year-old Padres fan, perhaps. Those 11 years represent your entirety as a Padres fan though. As far as a historical representation of the team, I think not.
I surely understand some fans disapproval. Once again the Padres made some public relations moves that were less than questionable. That sadly seems to be a common theme with this team. They seem to be getting better, but still they handle moves like this with the grace of a bull in a china shop. They should have known some fans would make a big stink and could have easily made a half-ass attempt to remove them in a ceremony.
Most people who are angered by the removal of the numbers are under the assumption that the names and numbers will merely be replaced by notation in the Padres ring of honor that surrounds the Jerry Coleman press box area. That is not true. The numbers will be attached to pillars and be placed in an area of the stadium that everyone can enjoy and interact with. Also more importantly these numbers will be kept in pristine condition and treated with the honor they deserve. They also will have a little bit about each player nearby so that future generations of Padres fans can appreciate the players and their role on the growth of the franchise. There is also room to expand in that area for future numbers and attractions. Eventually the batter’s eye area would have been too cluttered and the numbers would have had to be moved. This new area could be phenomenal for Padres fans, so to complain about it without experiencing it has no merit.
Change is difficult. Change can be scary. I know that. The San Diego Padres making changes makes the fan base automatically fear for the worse. I get that, I’ve been here and seen it too. The fact a Sycuan sign replaced the location of the numbers is irrelevant though. The team will of course utilize the space to maximize its profits. They would be foolish not to. Instead of complaining about the fact there is a new sign on top of the batter’s eye, how about some complaints about the $3.00 bottle of water at the concession stand or the lack of affordable seats for low-income type families? Instead of getting these tickets into the hands of the needy, empty seats constantly prevail. That is a tragedy, that is an issue. Not the location of iron numbers on top of the batters eye.
Once again I understand some people’s anger, but I just wish the Padres fan base as a whole would focus their efforts on holding this team accountable. The color and style of the jerseys is irrelevant, the placement of the retired numbers is irrelevant, the removal of the beach for more seats and a pavilion is irrelevant. We all want a winning product on the field. I could care less about all the show and glamour. I want results not an entertainment factor. I want this team and franchise to be successful for a long time.
This team needs to focus on improving its scouting on the foreign level. They also need to do better when it comes to drafting. The franchise has wasted so many high level picks over the last 20 years it is really embarrassing. The team constantly made judgements with picks based on financial restraints and constantly got burned. How about the fan base start to demand money being spent on key free agents and improving the farm systems? Those are far more relevant issues to the future of this team.
I by no means support Mike Dee. He has continued to make questionable moves, but I do support the fact he and the front office are trying. As mis-directed as some of their ideas and guidelines are, at least they are attempting to change this franchise. Past Padres regimes would just stand pat and do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of the fan experience and the quality of the team on the field. If you are a Padres fan, things are trending upwards. The team is on the rise.
With Javier Guerra, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Wil Myers, Austin Hedges and Cory Spangenberg the team has a solid young core. Factor in the six draft picks in the first 85 selections and the spending money the team is prepared to use on the international market and the Padres could easily have a top 10 farm system next season.
Keeping that type of minor league depth while fielding a competitive team will be key to the success of this teams future. Let’s make the front office accountable for things like this rather than harp on them for relocating the Padres retired numbers unceremoniously. Focus people, I know you aren’t used to this, but this team is close to something special as far as quality play on the field. Let’s try not to bicker and focus our voice together in an effort to ensure the Padres are no longer looked down upon. San Diego is a great sports city. I have seen it. Let’s show everyone.