It’s January, about halfway between the completion of the World Series and the beginning of the regular season.
Nearly two and a half months have passed since the Chicago Cubs closed out the Cleveland Indians in the seventh game of the World Series. In just about a month, players will be reporting to spring training, with less than three months until the start of the baseball season. For San Diego, baseball season cannot come soon enough.
Although the rumors of a Wil Myers extension and the announcement of the Yangervis Solarte signing have filled the offseason lull just a little bit, San Diego sports fans are itching for any sort of news or excitement.
Even with the Solarte and Myers news, the big news around San Diego is the departure of the city’s football team, the San Diego Chargers. Despite “trying” for the last several years to get the money to fund a new stadium, the Spanos family tucked their tails between their legs and decided to flee to Los Angeles rather than put their money where their mouths are and get serious about funding their own new stadium.
With the departure, the San Diego Padres are now the only major sports team in San Diego. On top of that, the Padres are now the only Major League Baseball team that is the only major sports team in their city.
For better or for worse, San Diego is now the Padres’ city.
Sure, the San Diego Padres are smack dab in the middle of what any knowledgeable baseball fan would call a rebuild. The front office may not want to use that terminology for monetary reasons, but it is what it is. With the trades of Matt Kemp, Andrew Cashner, Fernando Rodney, Melvin Upton, James Shields, in addition to not paying Tyson Ross in arbitration, it’s clear the Padres have no intentions of being a competitive team in the short-term. It became even more clear when the Padres went right around and took all that saved money and threw it into the foreign market, signing quite a few notable international free agents for some hefty sums.
While the 2017 season may not be the prettiest sight for Padres fans, it is clear the team finally, for the first time in what seems like forever, has some sort of direction. After years of being a middling team, winning 73-76 games every season, and being jokingly called the farm system of “real” big league teams, the Padres finally have clear intentions of fielding a winner. Meanwhile, the Chargers have abandoned the city completely, putting money over a winning product.
For the Padres front office and upper management, this is a lesson. The organization has made plenty of smart decisions over the last several years, but the responsibility lies with them to continue making those good decisions. With the city still stung over the Chargers betrayal, now is the time for the Padres to capitalize and put a stranglehold on the San Diego sports market. This team may not be a winner in 2017, but the long-term possibility is certainly there. San Diego needs a winner now more than ever. Maybe, just maybe, the Padres can finally be that winner the city of San Diego so deserves.