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Game 99: Twins at Padres

In a place still called Petco, by the way. That company hasn't gone kaput yet.

San Diego Chicken cooking Chicken on BBQ
Do you feel like... indulging?
Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Time: 8:40 Central

Weather: Calm, partly cloudy, 68° at first pitch (spooky ghost pirate fog after 11 PM)

Opponent’s SB site: Gaslamp Ball

TV: BSN. Radio: Provus won’t be in San Diego. Maybe he’s chicken.

Since May 24, the Twins are 25-30. They’ll try to get better tonight, against 29-year-old lefty Blake Snell. Part of the endless Tampa pitching factory (and a #2 starter behind Chris Archer as recently as 2018), he was part of a huge prospect haul for the Rays two years ago (outcome TBD). His strikeout numbers have always dazzled, but his walks have gone up the last few seasons. 2022 digits:

Snell throws a mid-90s heater and near-90 slider that’s been his best pitch this year. Plus some offspeed stuff.

In 2019, Snell missed two starts for a Lew Ford-ish reason, which he described thusly:

“I got off the plane, went home, took a shower, got out of the shower, and then there’s like this big, like, granite thing that I don’t like looking at. And I lifted it – it’s like a three-piece set, and like this pole that comes up two and a half, three feet. And then there’s a top. You, like, put something on it? I don’t know what you would put on it in the shower. Like, it’s right outside the shower.

So I’m like ‘ah I’m moving this, this is stupid.’ Dry it off, put my clothes on. I start to move it, I lift it and I go to move it where the tub is, just to set that down… but I lifted it up thinking ‘alright, I’m going to lift this whole thing up and put it over here and get it away from where I’m always at.’ And then I lifted it up and it wasn’t glued to the pole, and the pole came crashing down and then… yeah. That was the story. Really dumb.”

Incidentally, Tampa then called up Emilio Pagán to replace Snell on the active roster.

It is my terrible duty to make you aware of a hideous baseball abomination which takes place, annually, in San Diego.

It’s called “Outside The Lines” baseball, and OTL is a form of beach baseball, featuring rules resembling the “ghost runners” of backyard ball, but is basically a giant terrible party where people drink Coors Light and scarf Jello shots. It happens on Fiesta Island, an egregious beachscaping mistake (and possible toxic waste site).

Teams often have vaguely “suggestive” names, such as “Show Me Your Tatis. Stop Laughing It Gets Bigger. Everybody’s Gonna Touch It. Dixie Normous.”

There are two sacred rules at the tournament. Besides “F-U-N, fun!,” the other is “you can’t demean John Wayne ... Because he’s a hero.” (John Wayne was not born in, nor ever lived in, San Diego.)

Yes, there’s video of this. No, I won’t embed it. Here’s a sample.

I sometimes wonder, if there’s an afterlife, what my personal Hell might be (I probably deserve it). It might be an endless OTL festival on Fiesta Island, among the tans and teeth and F-U-N. For all eternity.

If it sounds like fun to you, though, plan your trip for next July. Be sure and bring all your former fellow Alpha Tao Omega pledges with you!

Finally, there’s a Minnesota connection to the Padres you might not be aware of…

In 1974, the Padres stank and their owner was in humongous legal trouble. They were tentatively sold to a D.C. grocery magnate, who planned on moving the team. The only problem with this was, the Padres still had 15 years left on their stadium lease (sound familiar?)

In to save the day walked McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc, a baseball fan and California resident. He bought the team and vowed to keep it in San Diego.

(If you haven’t seen it, a movie well worth watching is The Founder, about how Kroc got the McDonald’s name and methods from two restaurant-owning brothers actually named McDonald. Then kinda swindled them out of most of the company’s profits. The wonderful Nick Offerman plays one of the brothers, and Michael Keaton is fantastic as Kroc, like he is in everything.)

Kroc’s third and final wife, Joan Smith, was originally from St. Paul. Kroc met her when she was playing organ in a restaurant on University Avenue. Kroc would often visit town to check on the McDonald’s run by Mr. Smith, and to hang out with Joan – they’d attend Saints games together. (Per this pretty interesting SABR article by Bob LeMoine; the Krocs had an unusual courtship and marriage, to put it mildly.)

After Ray died (of complications resulting from lifelong alcoholism), and after a few good/bad years as owner, Joan attempted donating the Padres to the city of San Diego – plus a $100-million charitable trust to run the team in perpetuity! The city was interested, duh. But MLB shot it down.

And this, folks, is what it means to have an antitrust exemption (dating to 1922! Read Craig Calcaterra on the history of it here.) If I want to donate my adult video store to the city of St. Paul, St. Paul certainly may not want it. But other adult video purveyors can’t stop St. Paul from accepting my offer if the city’s interested.

Baseball can control who owns MLB teams, and cities/states are definitely not allowed. This is also the case in all major American pro sports (with the exception of Green Bay, grandfathered into the NFL’s by-laws). That’s not how it works elsewhere. Some cities in other countries own their pro sports teams, including quite popular ones, and therefore the whole “gimme new stadium + land or I’ll pick up my team and leave” thing doesn’t apply to those cities.

Anyhoo… too bad MLB stopped Joan Kroc from giving San Diego the team. Maybe American pro sports finances would be very different today if she had. In any case, she gave vast sums of the Kroc fortune to many, many good causes during her lifetime. So, ultimately, it worked out OK that Ray’s wandering eye settled on a pretty St. Paul restaurant musician.

Today's Lineups

Kyle Garlick - LF Jurickson Profar - LF
Carlos Correa - SS Manny Machado - 3B
Byron Buxton - CF Jake Cronenworth - 2B
Jorge Polanco - 2B Luke Voit - DH
Jose Miranda - 3B Eric Hosmer - 1B
Luis Arraez - 1B Jorge Alfaro - C
Gary Sanchez - C Nomar Mazara - RF
Miguel Sano - DH Ha-Seong Kim - SS
Gilberto Celestino - RF Trent Grisham - CF
Joe Ryan - RHP Blake Snell - LHP

(If you’re dying to know, Celestino isn’t back because Kepler was placed on the IL — not yet, anyways. Instead, Urshela is on the paternity list. Congrats to Gio and partner!)