Those of us not smart enough to stop caring, we live for this.
The light at the end of the tunnel.
But, the pain is real, the hurt magnified by watching a competitive, talented team as late as October of 2007 being gutted, sold off and stripped for parts in the blink of an eye.
Others may gripe about the economy and the lack of a salary cap to regulate baseball's big spenders, but San Diegans can thank irreconcilable differences between spouses and the uncommon nature of prenuptial agreements in the 1960's as the direct causes of the current state of affairs.
Apparently all it takes to destroy the hopes and dreams of millions of fans these days is for one marriage to dissipate.
And now, the Padres build from scratch again, the franchise sold off to a seemingly cash-strapped group that's buying the team in yearly payments. This isn't a mortgage or a new BMW, guys, this is a baseball team.
Gone are Trevor Hoffman, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Khalil Greene, Scott Hairston and—most recently, Jake Peavy, pieces of a puzzle who range from "serviceable" to "indispensable."
Today, Padres fans find themselves reliving the past, when talks of fire sales and penny-pinching fill the air. Adrian Gonzalez to Boston? Heath Bell to Seattle? Both of them...to the Dodgers? But still, feel free to gorge yourself on a six-dollar hot dog at Petco Park, Padre fan.
Ah, Petco Park. Take a stroll downtown into that beautiful example of modern baseball architecture, and feel free to sit anywhere, as you can surely get an equally good view of tonight's drubbing at the hands of an opposing team.
This is the stadium that was supposed to vault us into relevance. Now, it's just a beautiful mausoleum for a franchise that doesn't know whether its coming or going.
Hurriedly, let's catch glimpses of 22 year-old Kyle Blanks, the slugger with 6 HR in just 97 AB (that's 31 HR for every 500 AB) who suddenly makes All-Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez expendable, just because they happen to play the same position.
No matter. At this rate, Blanks will be gone three or four seasons after Gonzalez, with his potential contractual demands being deemed too expensive, a la Jake Peavy.
Speaking of Peavy, you might want to keep an eye on Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda, the two young guns acquired for the now Chicago White Sox ace.
According to Padres' brass, Richard, Poreda will accompany 21 year-old fireballer Mat Latos (3-1, 2.66 ERA over his first four starts), former All-Star Chris Young and current "ace" Kevin Correia as a rotation to be reckoned with, a strategy modeled after the—get this—the 1990s Atlanta Braves.
Please, you couldn't keep one ace at $50 million over four years, how are you going to keep three or four top-of-the-rotation guys at similar rates?
Yes, it certainly seems that the Padres are now becoming a glorified minor league team, a seeder for baseball's perennial contenders, refusing to break a cycle of futility in which the have-nots complain to the haves about the constant trampling of their hopes and dreams.
Now you will be able to tell your kids that you saw guys the likes of Will Venable and Everth Cabrera, Heath Bell, Blanks, Richard, Poreda and Latos live and in color while munching on that six-dollar hot dog or reclined in your favorite chair.
"Wait," your child will ponder, "you mean that's the same Aaron Poreda that went on to win a couple of Cy Youngs and World Series titles with the Yankees?"
And that's when you start to educate your kid about the extreme importance of the light at the end of the tunnel for a San Diego Padres fan.