Someone, somewhere, a long time ago, before their inaugural season of 1969, chose the name "Padres" for San Diego's expansion franchise. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago, blew it. Regardless of how the name was arrived at–fan vote, drawn out of a hat, Mayor's choice–the name is all wrong. San Diegans got stuck with a baseball team that sounds like a fraternity of Spanish priests, and for most of their history, they've played like it.
Consider: the Padres have never won the World Series, nor has any Padre ever tossed a no-hitter or hit for the cycle. Of the seven other teams that have never won it all, three of them (Mariners, Rockies, and Rays) are much younger franchises than San Diego, and only one other team, the Miami Marlins, has never had a player hit for the cycle.
Even the one and only NL MVP they have ever produced, Ken Caminiti, did it, it turned out, with illegal help from some not so friendly "friends."
What is it that makes the Padres so strangely different than other clubs? Maybe it's Steve Arlin's fault. You remember him, faithful Padre ol' timers, the guy who threw eight and 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies back in '72, only to give up a single to Denny Doyle, a lifetime .250 hitter.
Other team's pitchers smell blood when they're one out away from a no-hitter and nail down the final out. Not the Padres. Nope. Not in 1972, not in 1997, when Andy Ashby surrendered a 9th inning leadoff single after eight hitless innings, and certainly not in 2011, when a combined no-hit effort against the Dodgers was broken up in the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes. Not only did they lose the no-no, they lost the game for crying out loud.
Or maybe it's former owner Ray Kroc's fault. On the one hand he's a hero, seeing as how he saved the Padres for San Diego by purchasing the club in 1974, thus preventing them from darting off to Washington D.C. On the other hand, that same year he became so perturbed over his team's pathetic performance that he grabbed the mic and announced over the stadium's public address system that he's never seen worse baseball in his life.
A verbal curse perhaps? Tempting to think so. Regardless of how you feel about it, how many pro sports teams have such an ignominious blot as that on their records? Yes indeed, strangely different, these Padres.
So what is it then? Who can explain the ongoing enigma called the San Diego Padres? The zaniness continues to the present day. In one particular game in 2012, the opposition "out-errored" San Diego by a margin of 4-1, yet the Padres lost by five runs. Does that even happen in the Twilight Zone?
Prior to last season, the cry was "They need a new owner!" Yes, and fortunately, now they have one. But they need more than that. They need a new name. Players, managers, owners, uniforms, stadiums–they all come and go, but the one constant in this team's history is its name.
Yes, the same thing can be said about every team, but the difference is that the name "Padres" was wrong from the start. Poor team never stood a chance. It would be like naming your boy "Wimp" and then wondering why he's afraid of all the other kids.
So there you go. It's time for a name change. It's never been done before, at least not without moving to a new city, but that's ok. They're strangely different, they'll find a way.
How would you like to hear this from the P.A. announcer at Petco Park: "Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your San Diego Sluggers!" Now there's a name for a baseball team. They would, of course, have to add a few sluggers to the lineup in order to live up to the name, but the new name would give them all the more incentive to do just that.
The downside is that antagonists would dub them the "Slugs," but who cares? Let them be jealous. "Sluggers" is a perfectly apt name for a baseball team, evoking images of power and victory.
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