San Diego Padres: When Will the Pain of 2011 End?

Craig M DeutschContributor IISeptember 1, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 17: Clayton Richard #33 of the San Diego Padres reacts to giving up a home run to Danny Valencia #19 of the Minnesota Twins in the first inning on June 17, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After watching the Padres drop their seventh game in a row and get swept by the Dodgers, the agony of seeing the Padres in such a funk has started to get to me.  I vividly remember the Padres TV commercials in the mid-90's of "Keep on Believing... Keep the Faith!" (accompanied by a gospel track in the background). I always try to remember that when I get discouraged (especially when they lost a game in the bottom of the ninth after throwing 8.6 no hit innings). But as a lifelong Padres fan and someone who has endured some miserable seasons, something about this season stings more than normal. 

Could it be that, after last year's magical run, it hurts to see the team revert to their old ways?  After their World Series appearance in 1998, the Padres did a pretty major face plant in 1999; that didn't seem to hurt as much though, as the major free agent defections and trades made it seem unlikely that the Padres would repeat. 

Last year, the Padres didn't even make the playoffs. But for 161 games, it seemed like they could actually do it.  This year, despite winning a series from the Cardinals to begin the season, the wheels have fallen off the bus quickly. And even though the standings show less of a decline, emotionally it seems worse. 

Maybe it's the fact that as much as I like and admire Bud Black, something in me died when I saw Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery win a  World Series last season—especially after the Padres owned the Giants all season (just not when it counted in game 162).  Add to that the fact that Kevin Towers seems primed for an Executive of The Year award for turning the Diamondbacks around this just doesn't seem fair.

Perhaps it's the fact that the Padres never seem to have the means to keep franchise players; it hurts when you look back at some of the players who have come through and seen what they've been able to do after they leave San Diego.  As much as I wish they could have kept players like Adrian Gonzalez, as a fan of a small-market team, I understand the rationale behind trading players in their prime and getting a high return on investment.  I see a minor league system full of up-and-coming prospects and see a glimmer of hope among some of the younger players who have taken the field for the team this year.

In the meantime though, it sucks.

Despite this misery, I have no plans on giving up; with my luck, as soon as I do, the team will probably go 162-0 and make me look like a fool.  I guess that all I can ask for is that we be able to turn the page on 2011 and get excited for what I can only hope will be a more successful 2012.