Small Market Blues and Other Gripes
Small market teams have always existed in baseball. As MLB expanded through the years, they have proliferated, and I have finally resigned myself to the fact that baseball today has what amounts to a minor league system within the greater scheme of the American and National Leagues.
I suppose I’m only stating the obvious, but as a lifelong fan of the game, it is disheartening to watch the local nine, the San Diego Padres, as they pay lip service to retaining the talent of a player such as Adrian Gonzalez only to watch him ultimately sign a multi-million dollar deal with the BoSox. He is only one example of the typical transaction in the business of baseball. And, of baseball operations in San Diego.
Tony Gwynn is Mr. Padre and the Only Padre who chose to remain loyal to his city and the team. Undoubtedly, he could have gone elsewhere for more money. Not that he wasn’t richly rewarded to stay here. I may sound the cynic, but it is a very frustrating to witness the mass exodus of players from America’s Finest City. I understand that it is all about the business, but from a fan’s perspective, I want more than the commodity of competition; we, the fans want a championship caliber ballclub. Last year’s team was a perfect example of how the small market works.
The Padres lead the league very nearly wire-to-wire only to lose the division on the last day of the season. The fans are strung along until season’s end only to go home in dejection. Then salt is added to the wound when the team’s star player is let go during the off-season because it made the most sense from a business standpoint. Perhaps that has become part of the suffering the game inflicts on its fans. It certainly has become just that in the small market arena. Still, baseball is my life, perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment. Stay tuned for further commentary from the Small Market.