It’s time to break my silence. For the longest time, I’ve tried to steer away from the most sensitive subject floating around the Padres organization. I have remained quiet throughout the whole controversy, but I just can’t keep silent any longer.
During last Saturday’s 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies, Padres interim CEO Tom Garfinkel was a guest for an inning in the Padres’ broadcast booth. Garfinkel used this time to address many issues around Padres camp, including the Padres’ woeful start to the season, and the always-touchy subject of moving in the outfield fence at PetcoPark.
What Garfinkel said really irked me and has caused me to unleash my thoughts on why the outfield fence at Petco Park should NOT be moved.
I do not recall Garfinkel’s exact quote, but he said something like “moving in the outfield fence will increase the Padres’ chance of winning more ball games at their home stadium.”
I have an issue with this statement. To me, winning ball games is not a “moving the fence” issue, it is a team issue. The reason the Pads consistently break our hearts is simple: they field a bad team.
If the organization would invest its time and money in signing better players, there is no question they would be winning and the fence issue would be dead.
Losing and the Petco Park fences always coincide. When the Padres have a winning season (like they did in 2010), the talk of moving in the fences is moot.
My opinion is in line with that of former Padres general manager, Jed Hoyer, who is now the general manager of the Chicago Cubs.
“Let’s not blame the ballpark, I think we have to blame our offensive approach or our lack of hits,” Hoyer said last year in an article at gaslampball.com
But since the Padres are off to a horrendous start to the season, the organization has to look at other factors as to why the team sucks. Instead of manning up and placing blame on themselves, Garfinkel and others in the organization are using the fence as a scapegoat.
Tell me how a team like the Philadelphia Phillies, which only plays us for a series of three-sometimes four- games a year at Petco Park can figure out how to win there, but the Padres play 81 home games a year and still can’t figure it out? This makes no sense to me.
Before Saturday’s loss the Phillies won 13 straight games at Petco, dating back to Aug. 16, 2008. This was the longest active streak for any visiting club at any particular park, according to NewsOK, a newspaper in Oaklahoma. The Phillies have an overall record of 24-4 at Petco Park since it opened in 2004.
The answer to this question is quite easy: The Phillies field a good team. It’s really not rocket science, although the Padres make it out to be.
Phillies starting pitcher and San Diego native Cole Hamels told NewsOk that the reason why his team wins at PetcoPark is because they know how to play to the ballpark’s strength, something that the Padres seem to not yet figure out.
“ We’ve had some pretty good pitching staffs since then and I think you just find a way. I know we’re a home run hitting team, but unfortunately when we get here, we get the base hits and drive in the runs and get the walks. I think we’ve just been able to do really well. Hopefully, this is the type of momentum that we can really use at the start of the season and obviously on this road trip,” he said
The washed-up Andruw Jones holds the record for the longest home run hit at Petco Park, a 453-foot shot. This happened when Jones was playing for the Atlanta Braves, again a team who plays at Petco Park only three times a year. So how can Jones figure out how to hit a home run and Padres team can’t? It’s simple: Andruw Jones is not as bad as the Padres.
Now, you know where I stand in the fences debate. This issue has been talked about since Petco opened in 2004, and Ryan Klesko complained he couldn’t hit the ball out of the park. As I have said before, how come visiting teams figure out how to hit and win at Petco, but the Padres can’t? Because everyone else just has a better team.
I’m challenging the Padres to test my theory. Put together a better team, and I’d bet they won’t need to move in the fence.