The Taco Train, the phrase I’ve coined for the rebirth and transformative movement encapsulated by the Padres, is headed down the tracks. It’s left the station, destination: Promised Land. Unlike my stepson, it ain’t coming back. It’s headed, as Tom Petty once sang, into the great wide open. The city, and possibly the nation, will one day ride on its coattails.
The Taco Train isn’t a game, it’s a way of life. Its goal is to bring a championship to the city. Its mission is to bring peace and healing. It is going to save America’s Finest City. It may in fact save the country as well.
You don’t think so? Our house is divided. They are trying to make America great again in a world where nobody can agree on what exactly is great or even if the nation was ever great to begin with. We all share in this conundrum. The Donald clearly has a Messiah complex, not spoken of very often by the secular media, nor alluded to much by himself. He wants to make America great “for everyone”, bring peace to the Israelis and Palestinians, make friends with “that fine leader” Kim Jong Un, negotiate a truce in Syria, share computer codes with Russia, for everybody “to be happy”, all the while being adored himself. Most of all, be adored. Like a King. Or a Messiah.
It’s an optimistic agenda. In fact, we all want these things. Nobody really gives peace on earth a second thought anymore, what with beheadings in the name of Allah and the dark web’s ability to sink governments and enslave human beings. While certain Evangelicals have painted Donald as a Christ-like figure, it’s too incredulous to imagine. It goes against every grain, and grains, be they of molecules or of sand, are about the only things that stand the test of time. After the false peace crumbles and all these initiatives fail one way or the other, blowback will ensue. The fallout will be enormous. There will be few places to run and hide. San Diego will be one of them. And just as all this is happening, in two or three or four or five years, the Taco Train will be reaching maximum speed, carrying a maximum load, with maximum efficiency and power. All eyes will turn to the Taco Train, and the Taco Train will not disappoint.
Drive to Petco exiting off the 5 and look around Imperial and 17th. Look at all the tattered, torn, twisted and, yes, terrorized homeless human beings making camp on the streets there. A community is only as good as the least of its members. That’s basically straight out of the mouth of Jesus. The least of our members are suffering, growing in numbers, and being devoured by the 21st century. Up to 40% of them are Vets. The only reason San Diego exists in its current form is because of the Armed Forces, yet the human refuse left behind by these institutions is all over the street. Yes, we are as far away from any front lines as you can get, but our rear guard has been exposed. The war has doubled ’round and snuck up on us from behind.
Peter Seidler, co-owner and managing partner of the Taco Train, is doing something about it. He has inserted himself into the homeless debate in this city to, finally, get people some permanent shelter. He meets weekly on Tuesdays with his people, from both inside and outside of government, to push the city’s and community’s lethargy into action. It’s been argued he has a professional, and bottom line, stake in this – the homeless are an eyesore to all the patrons entering Petco from the east on 5 and are a stain on Petco and the glorious team that resides there. No doubt there’s a grain of truth to this. People can infer motives how they want, however, and Seidler doesn’t care. Seidler is the real deal. He wanders the streets late at night engaging the homeless and is as down to earth as any Padre owner we’ve seen. Basically, he can’t stand 10,000 people spending every night freezing under cardboard cutouts or highway overpasses, with no access to food, water, or health care, and essentially relieving themselves on the sidewalks. I mean, who can? Not you, not me, and definitely not the Taco Train. Without the Taco Train, the city will never solve this problem. With Seidler and the resources of the Taco Train behind him, hope is on the way, answers will be found, if only the city will step aside and allow things to happen. The problem can’t go on like this. We have the technology. We have the people power. We even have the will. Seidler, and others – with our help – will make it so.
It is just one example of the dream of the Taco Train. While Myers sprays lasers to all fields, Margot chases balls all over the yard, Perdomo slings in sinkers like a junkyard dog, and Hedges is the team MVP simply by being the best new catcher in the league since Yadier Molina, the Taco Train looks at the larger picture. An ever higher abundance of prospects is on the way. Purse strings are being opened and grand designs are being put into place. In a year or two or three or whenever, as the world continues to collapse around us, the Taco Train will be like a solid rock in our midst to be held onto in a faded, jaded world. As the Padres become more relevant in the standings, more national attention will turn towards us. Inevitably, all the national attention will turn towards us. We will be ready. You will be ready. When San Diegans get it right, San Diegans get it right. The perfect weather creates the perfect environment. The perfect environment creates the perfect answers. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s not like we possess magic or anything. Our city is going through many changes. Our demographics are in an upheaval. We need to continue to diversify and integrate more. The Padres have been here since the 30’s. They’re the one constant, and the Taco Train has room for everyone.
“there’s a war outside still raging / you say it ain’t ours anymore to win”
– Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender
On Thursday afternoon in a day game versus the Rockies, in a tense part of a tight contest, Hector Sanchez took a vicious swing from the right side of the batter’s box and accidentally released his bat. Before anyone could react, the bat had bounced squarely off the forehead of a lovely older woman sitting in the second row, opening an immediate gash and causing serious trauma. The game was stopped for 13 minutes while she was appropriately attended to.
“This ain’t no game. This is war!”
Well, it can be argued it was an accident, no more, no less. These things happen. Life, however, is like going through the eye of a needle. One false step there, one unlucky move here. It can change in an instant. Life lives on an edge, as precious as a ghost. Jesus exhorted his followers to “stay vigilant, keep watch”, and more wise words could not have been spoken. You never know when a bat will come flying into the stands. Stay vigilant. You never know when a foul ball will test your ball skills. Keep watch. You never know when a 98-mph heater will be thrown behind you. This isn’t a game. A teammate might even cut up all your clothes.
If you’re sleeping on the streets tonight, it’s life and death. Might as well be the Persian Gulf. If you get into the batter’s box to face Maurer Power at 99, be vigilant, he might drop the slider on you, leave your knees knockin’, and your toes curled. If the Taco Train one day is staring you in the face and you don’t quite know what to do or say, don’t ask for the Donald for advice. A false messiah is not better than no messiah at all, trust me on that one. Stay vigilant, keep watch. The only game we know is war, and war ain’t no game, it’s a way of life, whether in the badlands of Syria, or down at the beach training with the Seals. God promised us peace and it’s yet to come, but come it will, led by the Taco Train, amongst other things. I’m sure of it. I’ve been wrong before, though. Trust your own instincts as best you can. The people will be glad to see war – that hellish, miserable, all-too-human, scatological, state of being – go. War, fed up with working for bean counters and marketers, will be elated to leave. It’s an optimist’s agenda. In fact, we all want these things.
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, tell my love I’m coming home soon.