The Padres’ Taco Train Shall Not Be Derailed

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

The Taco Train Shall Not Be Derailed
(or the Revenge of Roseanne Barr)

July 25, 1990 was a great day in Padre history. Tony Gwynn, our beloved Mr. Padre, got five hits on that day, including two doubles, swiping a bag, with two RBI as the Padres swept a doubleheader from the first place Cincinnati Reds. Any day Tony got so much as a little bitty single is a great day in Padre history so far as I’m concerned making this one all the more special.

It was also an ignominious day. After Game 1 and before Game 2 Roseanne Barr screeched her way through the national anthem in the single worst public rendition of the anthem since it was composed and upon finishing, grabbed her crotch in mock baseball player style, spit a great big loogy in exhibitionist fashion and exited stage left with the crowd unmercifully booing her.

I should know. I was at the game. There’s nothing better than taking off a day from work to go to a double-header (unless it’s to make love with your beloved all afternoon, but I digress). It’s a pity one can’t do such a thing anymore. Anyway, the Padres were typically in 4th place on this day, 18 games back of first, but what could be better than a summer day in San Diego watching 18 innings of Tony, Jack Clark, Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Bip Roberts, Ed Whitson, et al.? Like I say, unless you’re in love there’s nothing better and I went by myself for all 18 innings.

I’m 54. My memory literally fails me sometimes when I try to remember what time I woke up in the morning or the name of an old friend. Roseanne’s shrieks, however, are etched permanently in the musical part of my mind. Or should I say dissonant. It couldn’t have sounded worse if Darby Crash of the Germs (1980s hardcore LA punk reference) had sung the anthem while cutting himself with a razor blade. At a baseball game. In the sun. In San Diego, military town par excellence. I’m not even particularly patriotic yet Roseanne’s anthem shocked the sensibilities.

Whatever. Just another part of the weird and wacky and crazy and sad and frustrating and horrible and strangely hypnotic and often bemusing Padre history, both on and off the field. Here’s where things get interesting though, the reason Roseanne was there in the first place.

The Padres had been bought earlier in the year by an ownership group led by Hollywood producer, Tom Werner, who just so happened to be the executive producer of…you guessed it…the #1 TV show at the time, Roseanne, starring Roseanne Barr. Tom, in all his greedy visionary excess, had decided letting his #1 star take a turn at the anthem in little old sleepy San Diego would be just the tonic to sooth all of our ills.
Afterwards, realizing he couldn’t hide in the Hollywood Hills, Tom hid in the owner’s box instead and refused to talk to the media. The Padres would only release a press statement saying they were aware people were upset about the anthem but blamed the performance on “an audio delay” and that Roseanne certainly meant “no disrespect”.

Credit:: Getty Images
Credit:: Getty Images

Tom – I can call him Tom, can’t I? – went on to be the worst owner in Padre history this side of Jeff Moorad. In fact, he was the original Jeff Moorad before there was a such a thing called Jeff Moorad. (Two sides of the same coin, one a Hollywood producer, the other a Hollywood agent.) Two years into his reign he cried poverty and instituted the original “fire sale” in modern era baseball (it’s really the only true “fire sale” that has taken place in baseball in the last 40 years). He ordered his GMs (the first one quit midway through, too ashamed to carry out any more of Tom’s orders) to sell off assets with no rhyme or reason, not necessarily to build up the farm system for future gain, but to get rid of present payroll for the sole reason of shrinking the current budget. (One of the key players he traded for, Melvin Nieves, hadn’t even been scouted.) Inevitably the fan base dwindled, organizational morale declined and victories on the playing field sunk to a new low.

Tom was leading the Padres the way Roseanne had sung the anthem.

Some reinvent history saying Tom laid the basis for the great Padre teams of 1996 and 1998, clearing the field of expensive talent and laying the path for better teams later. That would be like giving King Herod credit for the life of Jesus by not killing him when he killed all the other infants of Bethleham. Tom was a despicable owner in San Diego and remains despised to this day, and he knows it better than anybody else. To top it off he walked away with an extra $50 million for his troubles when he sold the team to the true savior of the team in that era, John Moores, $50 million being no small amount back in the early 90s for a couple of years of laying waste.

Which brings us to the present. This is what Tom had to say about how he and the Red Sox felt about the recent developments over the Drew Pomeranz trade and the subsequent suspension of Padre general manager A.J. Preller. “We were extremely disappointed in the decision,” Tom said, “We felt that some wrong was committed and that it’s important to have a level playing field. The Padres didn’t play on it.”

Sometimes the Great Padre in the Sky simply loves irony so much he can’t help himself.

Tom should hire me as general manager of his team. I knew there was a 90 – 110% chance Pomeranz was taking some kind of anti-inflammatory oral medication and the closest thing I am to the Padre medical data base is when I’m at my dermatologist’s office which I have been visiting recently all-too-frequently. At the time of the trade Pomeranz had already thrown more innings than any other year in his career save one, and he was about to blow through that limit in a few short outings. His overhand knuckle curve puts tremendous stress on his elbow and he was throwing it almost twice as much as he ever had in his career. Level playing field? How about common sense? I thought they knew baseball in New England. Isn’t Boston God’s gift to sports with Brady, baseball and the Bruins being the very essence of the sports themselves? Where’s Theo Epstein when you need him, for Chrissakes?

Anyway, don’t get me started. Supposedly Tom has done good things in Boston. I could care less. He treated San Diego like Roseanne spitting after the anthem from Syria…I mean, hell… and now he has the nerve to call us out. Once a Hollywood producer, always a Hollywood producer.

Wah wah wah.


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