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The Friar’s Lament and the ‘Miserable Failures’ 

There are a number of words in the English dictionary that can aptly describe the feeling of disappointment – or at least come close to doing so.

‘Miserable’ is, of course, a good choice… or at least Ron Fowler thought so on Wednesday.  Fowler, the Executive Chairman of the Padres ownership group (read: he owns part of the team), openly described his frustration and ‘embarrassment’ to the media by describing the Padres as “pathetic,” “miserable failures,” and “probably… the wrong players (for the team).”

Aside from literally grabbing the PA microphone at a live game and announcing to the fans in attendance that this is “the most stupid baseball playing… ever seen,” Fowler’s remarks come about as close to scathing and jarring as it can get for a Major Leaguer these days.

In typical “Hey, you don’t even know me, man” fashion, The Padres took notice of Fowler’s remarks and responded with a brilliant 14-6 victory over the Mariners, just one day after taking a 16-4 loss in Seattle.

So that’s good, right? Just tell the team they’re not worth their paychecks, and they go out and prove that *maybe* they are? The owner gets to vent, and the players get to redeem themselves. It’s a win-win, right?

As fantastic as that 14-6 victory on Wednesday was, and as wonderful as having the Padres score 13 runs on 20 hits on Thursday is, small victories simply cannot cut it in a season that is 162 games long. Baseball is absolutely a marathon. Not a sprint.

The bats came to life on Thursday, but Thursday’s game won’t be remembered for the offensive prowess of the Padres. Yes, the offense did their job, but what about the bullpen? Did they rise to the occasion just as Jon Jay did, who collected 5 hits on the night? Would the game be remembered for the Padres top third of the lineup (Jon Jay, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp) going a combined 10-for-18 with 5 RBI and 5 runs scored? When you score 13 runs in a game, you’re supposed to win and be celebrated, right? Right?

Apparently not.

When you fail – or in this case, when the bullpen fails in every sense of the word ‘failure’ – you don’t get to be remembered for your small victories, notwithstanding how fantastic they might have been. Instead, Thursday night’s contest will be remembered as a historical meltdown that ended with the Friars surrendering 14 runs in two (two!) innings and blowing a 10-run lead to ultimately pick up the shattered pieces of a 16-13 loss at home. To put how difficult the game of baseball is into perspective, here’s some context for last night’s harrowing loss:

The Padres scored 10 or more runs in back-to-back games for the first time ever in Petco Park history — and they lost.

The Padres payroll sits at a whopping $126,107,229 – ninth highest in the majors this year (per ESPN) and the highest it has ever been in team history – and they are 13 games under .500 at 21-34.

Recent hot-hitters Matt Kemp (.317), Alexi Ramirez (.353), and Jon Jay (.429) are all hitting over .315 in their last nine games with a combined 18 RBI and 7 home runs – and the team is still just 2-7 in their last nine contests.

Small victories mean nothing. It’s truly, truly frustrating, and baseball is a frustrating game to watch.

What makes it worse is that this is Padres Baseball, and this type of mediocrity feels almost commonplace in recent years. Many of us recognize the formula: the team seems to start slowly out of the gates, shocks the baseball world for one night here and there with an impressive outing, and then returns almost immediately to being a truly sub-par team.

Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling of insurmountable frustration that Padres fans – and apparently the Padres’ owners – feel when looking at this ‘product’ that they have put on the field.

Of course, the players themselves will claim that they are just as frustrated as the fans — and surely there is some truth to that. None of these players walk out onto the field hoping to be seen and remembered as a group of grown men failing at a children’s game. Simply put, Major League Baseball shouldn’t be a band of mediocre millionaires struggling to close out a game after picking up a 10-run lead – and they know it.

It is just plain tough being a Padres fan. Many people would argue that the Chicago Cubs have it worse – 108 years since their last championship and 71 years since they were last in the World Series. But, comparatively, the Cubs have actually won something and have a history to be proud of.

San Diego… not so much. It’s somewhat difficult to be a ‘proud’ Padres fan when you have nothing to be proud of – not including the late great Tony Gwynn or future Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman, of course.

We’ve already seen a historically bad start to the season, and last night’s display just adds additional frustration to a franchise whose fans have gone their entire lives without seeing a single World Series Championship. And to make matters worse, as of this writing… there are 107 games left in the year.

Where there was once a beacon of hope at the onset of the season, there now only remains a comfortable and nostalgic feeling of disenchantment, frustration, and familiar melancholy.

Let’s just hope these “miserable failures” won’t put us through another heartbreaking 16-13 loss.

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About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a former writer for the San Diego Padres, having worked as the Padres' "In-Season Blogger" during the 2015 season. Ian wrote as a member of the Friarhood's writing staff between parts of 2013-2015, writing over 100 articles over that span. In addition to being a writer, Ian is also a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, having earned a Juris Doctor, as well as his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. Be sure to follow Ian on Twitter (@SDRedBull8) to see what other ramblings he's posted about the Padres, San Diego, and baseball in general!

  • Steve Cozzens

    Time to start over. Matt Kemp is my favorite Padre. But, they should trade him and bring up Dickerson, Margot and Renfroe, They are the future. They should also trade Shields (not that they will get much for him, and Cashner. We’ve seen this season that there are some young starters that show promise for the future. Again, I am a big fan of both Big Game James and Cash, but they are not the future. Rea, Friedrich, Pomeranz, Erlin, Vargas, Ross are the future. It may mean things don’t turn around immediately, but most teams build for the future with young players. Teams that add veteran players usually only need a piece or two to contend. That’s not the Pads.