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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

Why I Envy the Padres' Hometown

October 21, 1998|MIKE DOWNEY

I didn't go to the World Series baseball game Tuesday night, down there in the Tijuana suburbs.

For one thing, I didn't have a ticket. The only way I can get into a World Series game now is with a ticket. Life stinks.

Back when I was a sportswriter, I got to see everything for free, including that couple in the Toronto Skydome hotel window who forgot to pull down the shade.

I particularly hated missing this World Series, since--I don't want to brag--up until this year (and you probably won't believe this) I had been to every San Diego World Series game ever played!

I was there the day a Padre batter stood at home plate, pointed to center field and said, "There! That's center field!"

I was there the day a Padre player retired and told the crowd, "Today . . . I consider myself . . . the luckiest man . . . ever to take off this incredibly ugly brown and yellow uniform."

I was there the day a Padre player hit his 61st home run, after having hit a total of 60 in his first 10 years.

With the legendary New York Yankees in town, I really, really wanted to be there. After all, this Padre-Yankee rivalry dates back more than four-sevenths of a week.


My friends down San Diego way, whom I see whenever I drive down to San Diego because they are afraid to drive up to Los Angeles, believe that if I make fun of their Padres, it is merely because I am jealous that they are doing so much better than my precious Dodgers and Angels.

That is partly true.

I concede that your plucky little friars are indeed in the World Series and that the Dodgers haven't been in one since Chavez was still a very young man in the ravine.

And yes, the Angels aren't in the World Series, either. But this doesn't count. Having a World Series without the Angels is like having heaven without a devil. It's sort of a given.

No, I am not jealous of that.

As a matter of fact, I am pulling for your Padres. I want them to win. I want them to win because the Yankees are owned by George Steinbrenner, whereas the Padres are owned by . . . uh, well, whoever the hell owns the Padres. (I remember Ray Kroc, the late McDonald's mogul, once owned the team. In both businesses he had clowns working for him.)

I couldn't be a Padre fan back in the 1984 World Series, because I was living in Detroit at the time. I had to pull for Detroit, or else somebody would have set me on fire.

This time, though, I am free to cheer for San Diego's hungry little mendicant order.

I sit home watching the telecasts on Fox, which is definitely better than watching a telecast on NBC, your Somebody Please Show Us the Bleeping Score network. I am enjoying every minute so far, in particular when David Wells of the Yankees pitches to Tony Gwynn of the Padres. They each look as if they keep a beer keg in the dugout. For my money, there are no two better players in baseball who resemble the media.

"So why ARE you jealous of San Diego?" readers must be asking by now, eager to read something else.

Well, I'll tell you.

I am not jealous of San Diego for having the Padres. I am jealous of San Diego for having the Chargers.

Believe me, I understand that envying a beautiful city for having the Chargers is the equivalent of envying a beautiful woman for having a mole. Nevertheless, at least San Diego HAS a football team. Here in greater L.A., where you have to be 23 or under to play, the only thing we know about pro football is that the games end so early, even on Mondays, we still have time to watch a movie.

I want a team. I'll take any team--a new team, the Raiders, the Rams . . .

Well, a new team or the Raiders.


Officials from the NFL are about to add a 32nd team to their league. The options appear to be Houston and L.A., making it obvious that the NFL doesn't much care whether its teams are able to breathe.

Cleveland is guaranteed a team, in part because Cleveland's mayor made it happen. Houston has a great shot, in part because Houston's mayor is working hard to make it happen. L.A.'s mayor, whoever L.A.'s mayor is, apparently left a wake-up call for the year 2098.

I still hope that the NFL puts a team at one of our two proposed sites, either at the New Improved or Your Money Back Coliseum or at Casa Del Ovitz.

Otherwise, I am moving to San Diego. I will be a Charger fan. I will bleed Padre brown.

And the next time San Diego has a World Series, I will be over 65 and get in for half-price.

Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, or e-mail

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