Category: dan weisman

Saying Goodbye to all that at Petco Park, Escondido Style

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It was all over, especially the shouting, little that it was, as the San Diego Padres wrapped up their 2015 home schedule at Petco Park.

And oh, by the way, in this season of their continued discontent, the Padres humbled their apparent arch-nemesis Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 behind Ian Kennedy’s best game of a 9-15, .428 ERA season. Believe it or not, the Brewers had won the last five games in a row against the not-so-fabulous Friars.

Escondido has had a checkered past when it comes to Major League Baseball, the type of game they tried, and often failed, to play at downtown San Diego’s Petco this year. Just five years ago, pseudo Padres owner Jeff Moorad declared his intention to buy the Padres AAA Tucson franchise and move it to Escondido.

Keep in mind, the ambitious former celebrity player’s agent Moorad never really bought the Padres. He leveraged a buyout of Rancho Santa Fe’s John Moores and tried to pay on time with what was for all purposes a liar’s loan. We’re talking 2010, guys, when the entire real estate and financial markets did the same and bankrupted the country.

In this case, MLB eventually wrested the team back from Moorad, returning it to Moores, a close friend of then-commissioner Bud Selig. As fortune would have it, Moores’ fortune to be precise, at that point the regional Fox Sports networks sprung up paying outrageous prices for the rights to televise MLB games.

Live sports programming just happens to be the sole revenue generator on commercial TV with all other formats bleeding money.

When Fox came calling with Moores in charge, he made out like a bandit flipping  the team over to Ron Fowler, another long and not so good story, for $800 million. Moores used the money to buy super-glamorous hotel properties and do what he does in the wonderful world of charity and jet sets..

As for Escondido’s AAA franchise, that dream lasted all of six months. The plan was to build a $50 million stadium at the site of the Escondido Flea Market with redevelopment bonds as financing.

The California Legislature stepped in along with the California State Supreme Court and blocked the use of government funds to finance private sports stadiums. Sorry, Jeff, but then again, he blew more smoke than a chimney anyway.

From Hidden Valley to Major League

Escondido also has featured a motley crew of ballplayers, MLB-style, over the centuries. Gavvy Cravath led off at the age 27 in 1908. Called “Cactus,” don’t ask, Cravath patrolled right field at historic Shibe Park for the old Philadelphia Phillies. He played in the Dead Ball era, yet managed to lead the National League in home runs six times, as well as RBIs, total bases and slugging from 1913 to 1920,

The Coscarart brothers were next up in the 1930s. Joe Coscarart was an infielder for the Boston Braves from 1935-36. Younger brother Pete Coscarart had a longer career. He played second base and shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1938 to 1941 and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1942 to 1946. He played in the 1940 All star Game. He helped start a player’s union, scouted and worked for decades in real estate.

Troy Afenir and Randy Johnson, each from Palomar College, played some major pro ball. No, not THAT Randy Johnson, the MLB Hall of Fame Cy Young perennial Big Unit, our Randy Johnson played third base for the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1984. He then went sushi and sayonara, playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 1987-88. He now scouts and is based locally.

Afenir donned the tools of ignorance for the Houston Astros in 1987, Oakland A’s from 1990-91 and Cincinnati Reds in 1992. He hit .190 with no home runs in 79 MLB at-bats and now coaches at Palomar.

But we digress.

Petco Park, Andrew -- UGHHH!!!! --Cashner on the mound.

Petco Park, Andrew — UGHHH!!!! –Cashner on the mound.

This day, Thursday, Oct. 1 is a day that will long live in American Pastime infamy, or something like that. This was the last Padres home game of the season. When the game ended, what was left of the Padres squad of unfortunates literally gave the shirts off their backs, one game-worn jersey each to lucky fans who won a charity raffle prize.

About 22,000 fans sat in the comfortable Petco air, laid-back as one would expect witnessing a 3-1 game that for some unGodly reason lasted more than three hours. What the heck was going on all that time?

Between, the beer and the barbecue, nobody seemed to care. Even when the giant video boards that now make Petco look like downtown Ginza in Tokyo at night implored the crowd to make some noise, it was so nice and polite almost like a library where they played a little rounders, don’t you know, between bouts with a smart phone.

Great Gatsby of Petco Park

One of the final games highlights was the giant left field HDTV scoreboard looming like the Great Gatsby’s Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg spitting out so-called fan-cam images aimed almost entirely at making fans look as ridiculous as possible.

Many times, the screen would put a celebrity image in the left and the image of a fan who might or might not resemble that person on the right. Justin Bieber? Check. Johnny Depp? Check.

This fan-scam went on for about six innings. The seventh inning proved its grand demise. The screen flashed an image of Chewie from Star Wars on the left. It presented a mountain man of a fan who, it must be said in all fairness, looked a lot like Chewie on the right.

Guess, fan-scam doesn’t have a live 5-second delay, because the fan in the cam flashed the universal finger of displeasure at the screen long enough to humiliate the fan-scam cameraman. So that fan-shall-we-say-friendly feature went by the wayside. No more fan-cam for you, fans.

No need to say, what with the technology flashing and jiving all over the park, closer Craig Kimbrall finishing off the Brew Crew and a long day’s baseball turning into night, that was all she wrote for another season in the sun at ye olde ball yard.

Heading north towards home, un set in the west, sure enough to rise again tomorrow in the Annie east, rest assured Escondido Padres fans, another season surely will come, maybe with a few more wins and wonders to savor.


The calendar may say February but the training says spring. WAKE UP!

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It happens every spring. As the screen says: “Welcome Back!”

Baseball sprang into full fast-forward on Monday, Feb. — FEB? — 28 as teams played from here to there and back. Or at least at Casa Fan-tastic, the fan cave with all TV’s and computers blasting like it’s hot, as in July.

Washington 9 New York 3 in the top of the 9th Inning and Mike Morse is shining bright. coming off a power-laden, if platooning year, the man behind the code blasted  Igarashi late of Yakult, now of the new Bowery Bums.

We say Bowery Bums since Mets ownership got Madoffed and reportedly took a last-gasp $25 million MLB loan that outraged former commissioner Fay Vincent this weekend.

And let us not forget the beloved Bums, as in the Duke, Brooklyn legend and Fallbrook, Calif. resident, who passed this weekend. Mr. Snider, we presume, is shagging flies today somewhere around Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Iowa. Condolences and memories collide.

Now, the new breed, baseball’s always promising future comes into play. Enter Bryce Harper who looks good. Looks great, less filling, a good-looking guy destined for destiny and Double-A. Hey, it’s spring, can you say majors in September.

Speaking of being a little rusty, hello Dioner Navarro. Little leaguers, YO, don’t try what he did at home…plate.

An artful Dodger, Navarro got away with it once, though, going all Pudge behind the dish, throwing from his knees and nailing the fleet attempted thiefster Juan Pierre — I always rinse, repeat, rinse that name in giant letters — JUAN PIERRE JUAN PIERRE, just ’cause it sounds cool. Out at second base and with EXTREME prejudice the first stolen base try of the spring.

But Dioner, bless his spring heart, got greedy. Attempting the same feat as Pierre tried to steal third base later in the game, Navarro squat, cocked, and threw the ball far north of the infield, wide and to the left fielder. Can you say…Embarrassing.

Thanks goodness for spring training though, for fans as well as playas. Breaking open our many MLB interfaces for the first time in 2011, sticking our faces into the ever-emerging baseball portal; games are on TV, games are on the computer, games, games, games everywhere and not a moment to re-consider.

Keith Hernandez is to the left computer screen. speaking wisely of Carlos Beltran’s move from the center square. Tommy Lasorda is to the right TV, reminding us the Duke never showboat dove for a ball. That’s right. It’s back, back, back, baby. Hallelujah!

I’m rusty, yes, but willing. MLB.Com has Mets-Nationals, obviously. MLB Channel has Dodgers-White Sox, obviously, and the radio feeds buzz with a dozen, or so, preliminary skirmished contests.

It will take a few days to get back up to speed for me, and you, but we’ll be going good as gold gloves by next week, plenty of time to be there and be squarely in the baseball mood.

And with that said, film at whenever,  I’ll be back online in a few…

MLB may be playing regular season games in Europe?

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Reports circulating say Major League Baseball may play a few regular season games in Europe in the near future.

Several knowledgable MLB sources said Bud Selig, MLB commissioner, was poised to announce games played in Europe as his last great initiative before he retired from his post in January. Among other accomplishments, Selig has been at the baseball helm for expansion of league efforts throughout the world.

Regular season games have been played in Japan and Australia at the beginning of the season for several years now. Games that count also have ben played in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the World Baseball Classic, played every three years, has generated increased international interest in the game. Baseball programs and leagues have sprouted in many locations from Russia and Israel to the Far East and beyond.

Several sources were tweeting the news. Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal said Selig was hopeful that an announcement would be made soon with London and the Netherlands viewed as potential landing spots for regular season games. Jon Morosi of Fox News said Amsterdam was viewed as being the best prepared to host games next year.

While England hasn’t fielded teams in the WBC, London has been the scene for several successful regular season and exhibition Nation Football League games. The Dutch are viewed as having better baseball infrastructure. The Dutch team has done well in the WBC even reaching the semifinal round in previous years.

The New York Times has reported that a $15 million ballpark expansion at Hoofddorp, Netherlands could expand that stadium to 30,000 seats. Hoofddorp is an Amsterdam suburb, about 15 miles from downtown near the airport that is home to more than 70,000 people.

Hoofddorp stadium officials have said they were renovating the stadium to meet MLB standards up to and including locker rooms of more than 4,000-square-feet. They also have installed a gravel, silt and clay field similar to those at MLB ballparks.

Most recently, MLB opened the 2014 regular season with games between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2012 regular season kicked off in March with games at Tokyo between the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners.