Padres Pics #10.

WINFIELD VS. RYAN.
nolan-ryan-dave-winfeldDuring a 1980 game against the Astros, Dave Winfield was drilled by Nolan Ryan and Winny decided to take matters into his own hands by charging the mound. According to Winfield, Ryan “had brushed him back twice in the game with inside pitches.” I guess that was more than enough for Winfield, and according to all mentions of the incident, he got the best of Ryan by connecting with the punch he’s ready to throw in the above photo.

I don’t believe there were any other physical altercations between Ryan and Winfield during their careers, but I do know that in the 1985 All-Star Game, Ryan threw high and tight to Winfield, before giving up a hard hit single up the middle. Winfield later admitted to trying to hit Ryan with the ball; but has since publicly said they are now friends, due to being members of the Hall of Fame. 

(Image Source: Associated Press)

GWYNN’S DEBUT.
tony-gwynn-first-game-ticketTony Gwynn made his debut on July 19th, 1982 in a game against the Phillies at Jack Murphy Stadium. This ticket, owned by Fred O. Rogers, is from that historic day. I wonder if anyone in attendance that Monday night had the slightest idea that Gwynn would go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time and become the face of the Padres franchise for over two decades? Probably not. Also, the images of the Friar and Jack Murphy Stadium on the ticket make this ticket nearly perfect. Now only if the ticket was brown instead of red…

(Image Source: Fred O. Rogers via “Baseball 1857 through 1993“)

1978 ALL STAR GAME.
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A snapshot into the National League dugout during the 1978 All-Star Game, which was held at Jack Murphy Stadium. I love the fact that Padres teammates, Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers are sitting next to each other This photo was snapped and shared by the Padres former VP of Marketing, Andy Strasburg. This is what he had to say about it:

“When the Padres hosted the 1978 MLB All-Star Game, one of my responsibilities was the pre-game ceremony. I was down on the field directing traffic that included player introductions. Moments before Padres public address announcer John DeMott intros each player I whirl around and snap a photo of the players (Willie, Jack, Winny and Rollie) who have yet to put their game face on.”

This is such an awesome image to capture and memory to have. Since leaving the Padres, Strasburg has put out two books, “Baseball Fantography” and “Fantography – San Diego Baseball,” which I strongly suggest purchasing, as they are filled with many interesting and candid baseball-related images.

(Image Source: Andy Strasburg)

The Padres Uniforms: A Tired, Yet Necessary Topic.

The Swinging Friar

(This a lengthy and opinionated post. Consider yourself warned.)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last month, or just don’t pay attention to baseball during the offseason, then you’re certainly aware that the Padres released new uniforms for the 2017 season. Even if you’re not a Padres fan, you’ve probably come across this information, as the release essentially went viral, due to how underwhelming the jerseys are. And when I say “underwhelming,” that’s a nice way of saying they’re absolutely terrible.

If for some reason you haven’t seen the new home and away uniforms, or need a haunting reminder, here’s the video announcement; which was released on November 22nd. I’m warning you, though, if you think any combination of blue and white the team has worn in the past is bad, just wait until you get a load of these bland monstrosities. In a nutshell, these uniforms blow everything they’ve previously worn out of the water in terms of being forgettable and tasteless.

I don’t get it. There are options available which would satisfy many people and return a unique identity to the team, yet they go with uniforms so boring that they’re basically offensive. It boggles my mind that: A) someone actually designed these and B) someone actually approved them. It just goes to so show that in terms of tradition, branding, and creating a sense of identity, those who call the shots in the Padres organization are tone-deaf and utterly clueless. Going back to brown on a full-time basis, or at least incorporating other colors such as gold or orange, are obvious decisions to make. But hey, leave it to the Padres to screw it up.

Even after a month, criticism has not subsided. Oh and by the way, it’s not just San Diego-related media that’s taking shots at the organization, but social media, blogs, and writers seem to universally hate the uniforms. It’s almost as if the baseball world has united with these opinions, which is weird to me since I’m so used to the Padres going under the radar and without much attention. I’ve even had friends reach out and offer condolences over the uniforms. Each time, the theme seems to be the same, and consists of something along the lines of “Why don’t they go back to brown full-time??” or “Brown is awesome/unique/etc.” or my favorite comment, which is a simple “LOL at the Padres.” Oh, I forgot to mention that these conversations I speak of are usually with NON-Padres fans.

This leads me to the question: How are people, with no rooting interest in the team, aware of the right decision to make in regards to the uniforms, but Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, etc., are completely oblivious to it? This is problematic and representative of many problems the Padres have as a whole.

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Brown? Check!  Orange? Check!  Pinstripes? Check!  A beautiful uniform? You know it.

I get it. The Padres have not won a World Series, and while they have gone twice, their winning seasons as a whole are few and far between. I get it. They don’t have a fan-base which is comparable to most Major League teams in terms of size and attention. I get it. There have been major PR disasters in the last few years. I get it. They are in the middle of a rebuild. Really, I can go on (but won’t). What I’m getting at is that the Padres have a number of things that work against them in terms of being a team that is recognizable in a positive, or even neutral light.

Let’s be 100% honest with ourselves here, most people just don’t care about the San Diego Padres. I’d say the general consensus wavers between “Eh, the team sucks, but the weather is nice.” Or, “I liked Tony Gwynn, but don’t know much about the team outside of him.” Oh yeah, you can’t forget about those annual MLB uniform ranking lists, in which friends always seem to tag me in or forward my way. If you’re reading this, then you obviously know that the Padres are always dead last, or near it.

The uniforms have largely been terrible for over 15 years and I honestly don’t think this can be argued. If you don’t agree, then I’d be quick to ask if color-blindness runs in your family? Or maybe it’s not your fault, and you’re just simply unaware of how branding and marketing is detrimentally impacting the team’s legacy. Either way, blue and white has got to go, and something has to be done to make this team stand out in a positive and unique way.

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Matt Kemp & Andrew Casher in John Brubaker’s 2015 mockup uniforms.

In the grand scheme of things, I do agree that the on-field product is ultimately what matters the most. Even though it seems insane to me, I’m also aware that some fans honestly just don’t care about uniforms. I know there are other fans who are just entirely burnt out on the topic. I agree that it’s a tired argument, especially when ownership doesn’t listen and shows no signs that they ever will. With all that said, I refuse to hold back my criticism of the team’s uniforms.

I’m very much looking forward to watching the young kids play for the Padres in 2017 (and those coming in the next few years). However, I’m not looking forward to only being able to watch Wednesday throwback games or Friday night home games to visually see a product that can’t be confused with, or looks like, a B-rate version of the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Mariners, Brewers, or Rays. I’m sure I’ve missed another team or two, but that in itself is another sign that blue and white has got to go.

2017 is obviously too late for change, and that’s a defeating feeling. I had high hopes that next season was the return to brown on a full-time basis. Still, as fans, we must demand that the team rectifies this uniform issue, more sooner than later. The Padres need a new uniform that sticks out, is true to the history of the franchise, and has a modern twist that will age well. Enter Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.

padres-brubaker-mockupBring Back the Brown in 2018!

I actually finished this post a couple weeks ago and was sitting on it, due to its length and the fact that it largely consists of nothing but me complaining. Writing it was essentially a cathartic release, so I decided to not publish it. However, this changed last week, when Gaslamp Ball’s “Bring Back The Brown 2018” came up in my social media feeds. It reenergized me to know that the Gaslamp Ball crew were being proactive in their approach for new uniforms. In addition, they called for others to do the same. And with that, I decided to bring this post back to life, in order to lend support to “Bring Back The Brown 2018.”

In a nutshell, the campaign’s goal is to push for a return to brown to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and that in itself is brilliant. This is something that Peter Seidler, Wayne Partello, Ron Fowler (and his wife) can’t ignore. The marketing and revenue-generating opportunities that fall in line with an anniversary of a sports franchise are endless and if the team is in rebuild mode, this adds an element of excitement to the ballpark, which may be lacking due to the current on-field talent.

padres-brubaker-mockupIt’s become increasingly evident that the supposed “vocal minority” is not a minority; especially with Ron Fowler not releasing info related to the team’s marketing studies. So now, we as fans, have to assume that the info we have access to, is fact, and use it to kill the vocal minority myth. Social media, articles, and online polls don’t necessarily represent the majority, but it represents something, especially in this digital age.

In the end, the status quo is no longer acceptable and the Padres organization and fans deserve better. In regards to the uniforms, I often think of Tony Gwynn’s quotes in Tom Krasovic’s ESPN article, “Time is right for Padres to bring back brown.”

“Brown is part of who the Padres are, and it’s definitely unique in baseball, because no one else has brown. How many teams have blue? How many have red? But none of ’em have brown.”

“I think a team loses something when it tries to look like someone else or tries to go after some ideal. The Padres, ever since they dropped the brown in ’91, it looks to me like they’re kind of pretending. They should just go all out and be who they are. The Padres should look like the Padres.”

And honestly, I believe that should be the final word on the matter. Sadly it’s not, and that’s why I urge everyone to lend support to Gaslamp Ball and “Bring Back The Brown 2018.

Remembering Tony Gwynn.

Following Tony Gwynn’s death last year, I posted this on 90 Feet of Perfection. I’ve since launched this blog with a name in honor of him, so it’s only fitting that I share it again, one year after his death. Needless to say, it still hurts and I’m still in shock that my childhood hero is gone.
tony-gwynn-header

Southern Oregon was a long way from San Diego, but my family always maintained our roots; particularly when it came to sports. It was my Dad who officially introduced me to baseball and I still remember the conversation quite well. I must have been in second grade at the time and he explained a little about the game and told me about the San Diego Padres. To be honest, I didn’t think too much of the conversation, but I knew that my parents, grandmother and older brothers all liked baseball, so I wasn’t turned off by the idea. Around the same time, I remember kids starting to play little league and being slightly jealous. Not that they were actually playing, but more so that I could not take part in the conversations about their games. Related to this, a lot of kids I knew went to the local Medford A’s games and in turn were fans of the Oakland A’s. I almost feel like it was the “cool” thing to do. The same went for collecting and trading baseball cards. After a short period of time, I wanted in on all of these things as well and before that year was over, I was consumed by it all.

I come from a family of long-time San Diego Padres fans and that for some members of my family, this goes back to the days of the old Pacific Coast League Padres. Once I personally became interested in the team, this meant getting my hands on every single Padres baseball card possible. I remember being absolutely fascinated with the brown and orange that Padres players donned on my 1987 & 1988 Topps cards. However, what captivated me the most was the guy who wore #19 for the Padres, Tony Gwynn.

gwynn-brown

I have so many fond childhood memories that involve Tony Gwynn on some level or another: I remember the Gwynn-related magazine and newspaper clippings on my bedroom walls. I remember countless conversations with family about him. I remember my Grandma meeting him on different occasions and her telling him about me and even attempting to organize a phone call between us, which, unfortunately, never successfully happened. I remember saving paper route money to buy an autographed photo of him. I remember my Mom getting me his 1983 Fleer rookie card for Christmas one year and just staring at it in amazement. I remember seeing his 2000th career hit in person and being so happy that tears came to my eyes. I remember attempting to negotiate a trade for a Gwynn Donruss card that my brother got in a pack while playing left field during a little league game (he was behind a fence watching and had just opened a pack). I remember writing #19 on bills of my caps. I honestly can go on and on.

In a way, I think it’s safe to say that Tony Gwynn was and is a big part of who I am. I’ve always thought this was odd, since, in many ways, I’ve always disliked the idea of idolizing people. I guess Tony Gwynn is one of the few exceptions I’ve made in regards to this.

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Like many people, I knew he was sick. I knew the cancer had returned and that he was being treated again. However, this time was different as there was an uneasiness about it all. All you had to do was read between the lines to know that something was very wrong. He was not able to attend the 1984 San Diego Padres celebration back in May and speculation began that this was quite serious. Still, when I got the news the morning Tony passed away, I was in complete shock. At first, I didn’t think it was possible and I felt numb. This quickly changed and I have no problem admitting that I shed tears that day and on different occasions since. This is something I experienced when Jerry Coleman passed away in January, but with Tony, it went much deeper. The Padres, the city of San Diego, the world of baseball and many people I care about all lost someone that meant a lot to them. It shook me to my core.

I never met the guy, but he was my hero due to what he accomplished on the field and the person he was off the field. How I felt about the guy never changed. Even during the time in my life when interest in baseball often took a backseat to things like music and skateboarding, I always managed to check box scores and read articles to stay updated on how he was playing. There’s a reason I kept everything from my childhood Tony Gwynn collection and have continued to add to it in adulthood. Simple enough, the guy was special and had an impact on me.

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs

My grandmother passed away this last November and my whole life, up until she got sick, I would call her and talk about baseball. Specifically the Padres, and for many years this meant Tony Gwynn. She would have been heartbroken if she knew that Tony had passed at such an early age. She absolutely adored the man. I spent a lot of my childhood talking to my own late mother about this him as well. She also thought he was great, although her favorite all-time Padre was Goose Gossage. Since Tony passed away, I’ve had multiple conversations with my Dad about him. What I’m getting at is that Tony Gwynn was special and impacted so many people in a positive way and in my case, he impacted 3 generations of my family. I have a hard time believing that this is unique to just my family.

Sportswriter Barry Bloom recently said that “Tony Gwynn may be the single most important sports figure in history to a single community.” To some, this may be a bold statement, but not me, I believe in it wholeheartedly. Like many people, I’m still having a hard time grasping the fact that this person, who was a big part of my childhood and represents so much about the game I love, has passed away.

With that said, it brings me joy knowing that there was a Tony Gwynn in this world and while growing up, I had such a great guy to look up to.

Mr. Padre may be gone, but I think it’s safe to say that he will never be forgotten.

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