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The 2013 San Diego Padres were supposed to embody hope.
No longer would fans be forced to deal with owners that didn’t really want to own the team, or fake owners that the MLB would never approve. The new owners, led by longtime Dodgers owner and President Peter O’Malley, would make everything better in the front office.
On the field, the second half of the 2012 season was enough reason for hope in 2013. The Padres won 42 of their 75 games after July’s MLB All-Star Game, good for a winning percentage of .560. They won 18 of 28 games in August, making them the hottest team in baseball for the month. They won 26 of 47 games that were decided by a single run. There was plenty of reason to believe that this team, which mostly came together in the middle of the 2012 season, was talented enough to compete for the NL West division in 2013.
The biggest reason for hope, for many Padres fans, was that the new ownership finally gave the fans what they wanted: a smaller ballpark. The outfield fences are being moved in dramatically, and should result in more home runs for the hometown team. Many fans think this will result in players playing instead of thinking. Thinking slows down bats and kills confidence. Thinking is what makes a great hitter on the road a bad hitter in his spacious home ballpark.
So, why aren’t fans of the San Diego Padres excited for 2013? Are they simply too accustomed to disappointment? Not exactly.
The Padres have missed every opportunity to build on the hope of 2012. The lack of activity during free agency was deafening, leading many fans to wonder whether the new ownership would be at an even greater disadvantage to compete with the rest of the league due to financial issues.
Although the Padres have shown construction progress for the fences on Twitter and Facebook, a good majority of the team’s fans don’t know that it is happening because the decision was made weeks after the team’s season was over, and many had already shifted their attention to the Chargers.
Now, through no fault of their own, the Padres are falling to pieces. Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly have all either had Tommy John surgery or might be facing it soon. Those three players were expected to be major components of the Padres’ 2013 pitching rotation, and all three will start the season on the Disabled List.
Carlos Quentin, who was traded last offseason and signed to an extension that acted as proof that the team could retain stars in San Diego, is once again showing why the Padres were able to afford him by missing major chunks of his second consecutive spring training with an injury.
Chase Headley, who was considered the Padres’ “savior” just a few weeks ago, will start the season on the Disabled List with a broken thumb.
The talent that drove the 2012 team to a good second half already seems too injured to contribute. The money that many thought the new ownership would bring might not even exist. Padres fans already feel cursed to live an existence of perpetual mediocrity and false hope.
John Gennaro is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @jmglion or email email@example.com.