It's another Padre Christmas
Padres need star atop the tree
Padres need star atop the tree

Posted Dec 17, 2003


When I was younger I remember getting so excited about the holidays that I wasn’t even able to sleep some nights. I would lie in my bed and envision the various gifts and toys that Santa would bring, and I had my lists, oh man did I have lists. I wanted GI Joe figurines, Lincoln Logs, a new catchers mitt (truth is I was a little chunky even back then making catcher a natural fit), any of a number of balls and board games and match box cars.


I remember how I would see myself playing with each one and knowing that each would bring a specific pleasure, and then discovering on Christmas morning, that my expectations were always greater than the realization of what would come out from those brightly colored packages.

Well, December in the Hot Stove league is a lot like being a 10 year old boy a week before Christmas all over again. Instead of gathering around the tree waiting to see what Santa has brought, we envision ourselves sitting right above the home dugout on opening day (because nobody dreams about having lousy seats or what would be the point of dreaming) waiting anxiously for “our boys” to take the field. We have spent just about every day since witnessing the last out of the season before, planning and preparing our lists for who would be coming out of that dugout. Weighing the pro’s and the con’s of each potential free agent, every likely non-tendered player, and estimating which players in our minor league system were ready to make the trek to the show.

So if we seem a little ungrateful, and if we cry for a little more action then what we as Padres fans have received thus far in the off season, realize that it’s the organization’s fault.

It is their fault now just as much as it was my parents fault for ruining Christmas back when I was 10. You see, my folks would start sometime about August trying to dissuade my desires to get stuff in the store by suggesting that maybe I should wait, just incase Santa was planning on bringing it for me. I assume my parents thought I would forget or that maybe I would turn my desires to different toys over time. Well I didn’t forget. I had plans for all of those toys and when the packages were gone and some of what I had anticipated weren’t there, I felt a bit of a let down. While I know that sounds a little spoiled and certainly not acting within the spirit of the season, I am reminded of it again now only because it’s happening again. This time it wasn’t my parents telling me to wait for presents I was never going to get, it was my ball club telling to be patient for players they never had any intension of providing.

Now please stop me if you think I am exaggerating or embellishing the story somewhat, but there was a time during last season when we were told about salaries in the 70 million dollar range, and we were told that we would be a player in the market to bring in big name players. Not the superstars. I don’t think people expected the Pettitte’s or the Guerrero’s in their stockings but I am pretty certain we thought that we could expect better than a retread left-hander that we couldn’t give away fast enough in 2000, a back up centerfielder that we traded away for a catcher we never could teach to hit, and while we expected a Japanese import we thought it would be a Lexus and not a Hyundai. Just can’t get into the holiday spirit when the only news we get from the General Manager is a constant update about who we didn’t get or can’t pursue.

Now that I am older I still have my lists, cause boys never outgrow their toys it’s just that the price tags get a lot bigger. So I continue to hope that the Padres will mirror another tradition found in my home at Christmas, the tradition of having me open the smaller gifts first as we built up the Grand Finale gift designed to make smiles that last the rest of the year. So, Kevin Towers, if you’re listening, I have had enough of opening of the socks and underwear boxes; it’s time to break out the real presents. The ones we can’t wait to show our friends when school starts up again, the ones that makes us giggle like children again. If you have forgotten that noise, just turn your ears towards the East. I am sure that on every stop up the I-95 between Baltimore and Boston you’ll be reminded.

Greg Olmen can be reached at dgolmen@cox.net


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