I owe a lot to baseball. Before being an empassioned football fan, I started off as a baseball fan.
Living in northern Los Angeles county (born and raised), you would think that there would be enough Charger fans to congregate with and discuss our joy of the Chargers. But that's not the case. We still have remnant Raider fans, Bronco fans (for some reason), Ram fans (because they, along with the Raiders, once were LA's teams), and some of the other glorified America's teams (like the Packers and Cowboys). It's the same with baseball. Why bother rooting for a team that you know will neber be out of the bottom 5 in annual payroll, especially living in a market that has a team who will spend whatever they see firt to get a World Series ring.
So, let me take you back to the beginning, when it was all just about baseball for me. My father was/is a Dodger fan. To give you a perspective of the era in which I started watching baseball, I was born in 1977 -- which makes me on the wrong side of 30. Anyway, in the early 80s, when I first started to comprehend the excitement of sports, I would watch the Dodgers on television with my dad. Those were the days of Cey, Lopes, Sciossia/Yeager, Sax, Baker, Monday, and my favorite baseball player...Steve Garvey.
[Side story: When I was a kid, starting at the age of 5, my favorite number would be however old I was. So when I was 5, that was my favorite number. When I was 6, that was then my favorite number. When I was 7...I couldn't let go of the number 6 as my favorite number.]
So, while watching the Dodgers and asking my dad who this player was and who that player was. I asked who Steve Garvey was. His jersey number was 6, which is why I inquired about it in the first place. He became my favorite player. And it was easy to root for him too, because he was actually a very good player.
Well, he became a free agent in 1983 and signed with the San Diego Padres before the '83 season. I remembered them as the team with the ugly colors. (Ha! I like those colors now!) But as a mere novice in the whole fandom of a baseball team, I opted to follow allegiances to the player (Garvey) and not the team (the Dodgers). I think you all know where I'm going with this...
I became a big time Padre fan as I started to understand the game, and team concept and, different theories as to how to play the game, inning by inning. In turn, I started to be a fan of Gwynn, Wiggins, Templeton, Kennedy, Nettles (in his brief time here), Show, Dravecky, McReynolds, etc... So when Garvey retired, I found myself at a crossroads. My favorite player was no longer part of the game I had come to love. Do I go back to being a Dodger fan? Do I just walk away from the team I had come to love for the past few years and share in that 1984 National League Pennant series against the Cubs, in which my boy Garvey hit that homerun? The answer was no. I was a Padre fan through thick and thin. I learned the game of baseball while being a Padre fan and didn't make sense to go back now. Amongst my predominately Dodger-rooting friends, I am know as as "The Tratior".
But, hey, that's a small price to pay for making an unpopular choice in L.A.
The San Diego Padres seem the odd duck when they're compared to their California baseball brethren. They're the only California team which has never won the World Series (although they do have two Pennants, which is one more than the Angels, who HAVE won the World Series). They're the only California team with the entire market to themselves; the Angels and Dodgers share Los Angeles, while the Athletics and Giants are both entrenched in San Francisco. They're one of only two teams in California … more