Let's face it, it can take a lot to get San Diego Padres fans fired up. Another way to put it might be, Padres followers are so used to mediocrity and lowered expectations that as long as it's sunny and 75 degrees at game time -- which is nearly every day -- everything else is cool.
So it was amusing this week when the Padres finally found a hot-button topic in the form of one Harold (Bud) Selig, baseball commissioner who will be stepping down in January after 22 years at MLB's helm.
Selig, an infrequent visitor to parts West, was in town. So, coincidentally, were his beloved Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres decided to hold a program for Selig at their Padres Hall of Fame, which occupies a modest corner of Petco Park. Team CEO Mike Dee then announced that the brickyard entrance to the Hall of Fame would be renamed the Bud Selig Hall of Fame Plaza.
And Padres Nation lit a fuse.
Talk radio lines buzzed. The biggest local newspaper, the Union-Tribune, held informal polls that ran 98 percent against the naming. Dee, who had tweeted about "always listening to the fans" while announcing the Selig honor, removed his tweet.
You'd have thought the local populace finally found the villain for all the losing seasons and fire sales and the general lack of national respect (or even interest), and his name is Bud.
While noting Selig's general invisibility in San Diego and virtually no apparent ties to the Padres in his 22-year reign, Padres fans also pointed out that during Selig's All-Star Game love fest for retiring Yankee Derek Jeter, there was no moment of silence or other show of respect for San Diego's favorite son, the recently deceased Tony Gwynn.
Cynics also pointed out that the Padres have been campaigning to host an All-Star game at Petco Park, now in its 11th season. "I like Padres fans' chances," Selig told the media after the naming ceremony at Petco Park.
Now, Dee is in damage control mode. He went on Fox Sports San Diego, which carries Padres games, before Wednesday's game to defend honoring Selig. We don't know if Dee ever rowed crew, but let's just say he was bailing as fast as he could.
We know for a fact that Ray Kroc saved baseball in San Diego when he bought the Padres in 1974, when the team had trucks packed for a move to Washington, D.C.
Without citing any real proof, Dee said Selig had been instrumental in helping keep the Padres in San Diego during the fire-sale days of the Tom Werner ownership group in the early 1990s. "The future here was uncertain at best," Dee said. "He played a crucial role by giving us time, patience, reaffirming his commitment publicly ... to wanting baseball to work in markets like San Diego."
Give the Padres a Dee for effort on this one, and don't hold our breath waiting for fans at Petco Park to breathlessly say, "Let's go visit Selig Plaza."