Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Halloween-Time: Let's Talk About Ghosts

This town is full of ghosts. When you have no tradition of success it’s hard not to dwell on the mistakes of the past, or at least those things that seem like mistakes. Hindsight is, after all, 20/20. The Padres have the ghost of Bruce Bochy, who went on to win three Series titles with one of our greatest rivals even if they don’t really consider us the same. Bochy’s ghost probably forced us to hold onto Bud Black longer than we should of, but there’s certainly reason to believe Black might become a ghost as well. The Dodgers recently fired their manager and they are a team on the cusp of greatness. They could use a ghost from San Diego just like the Giants did. Bochy wasn’t going to take the Padres to a Series and it’s unlikely that Black ever could have taken them either. The problems run deeper than that. There are foundations in baseball that make success difficult for many teams. Sure, there are always teams that rise from the depths to find a modicum of greatness, but in baseball it takes a lot of cash to do it overnight, and that kind of success is typically fleeting. True success takes time and patience in baseball, but time and patience get you fired more often than not, restarting the process before it ever bears fruit. Baseball’s ghosts can live forever if you don’t learn from them. Study your ghosts in baseball and let them make you better.

Football is a different animal with the same goal. Championships. Turnaround happens fast in the NFL, so it’s a sport where you have to give up the ghost or die on the vine. But the Chargers have ghosts. An entire graveyard’s worth of them. The ghost of Bobby Ross. The Ghost of Marty Schottenheimer. The ghost of Drew Brees and the ghost of Ryan Mathews. It’s become paralyzing and it’s cost us our identity. Rivers is every bit the QB Brees was and Brees wouldn’t have won here with Norv any more than Rivers has. And neither one of them could win it with Marty, who still looms large as the greatest franchise ghost of the millennium so far. Melvin Gordon is not Ryan Mathews just because we traded up for him and he put the ball on the ground a couple of times. We’re killing this young man’s potential while Mathews looks resurrected in Philly, to be honest. McCoy is looking less like the true successor to Schottenheimer and more like an extension of his true predecessor, Turner, whose mumble-mouthed ghost still haunts these halls as what should be a cautionary tale but will be forever at odds with Marty’s spirit. It's starting to look like McCoy needs to become a ghost soon. Telesco might be friendlier than AJ, but he seems to be just as lost at this point. AJ’s ghost is laughing at the way Eric Weddle has treated this team in crying about an extension and Telesco seems powerless by comparison. We're nearing the point where Telesco needs to be exorcised.

The Spanos family is the problem, of course. And not just because they want to move the team out of the haunted confines of Mission Valley, but because no one has been through the life and death of nearly as many ghosts in the modern sports history of this town. It’s time to forget the past. It’s time to find the future. Whether it be here or up the road, it’s time to open up the checkbook and bring some real football Ghostbusters to San Diego. Don’t be fooled when this team scraps its way up to a “respectable” 9-7 record by the end of the year. Don’t be paralyzed. As much as it pains me to say this, the new regime is not better thus far than the awful regime it succeeded and there's little reason to believe it will be. Rebuilding happens overnight in the NFL, but it takes great architects and right now that is what we are lacking. It’s time to tear down this cursed edifice and find a Michelangelo to build us a cathedral of success for it's in cathedrals that the best ghosts dwell. The alternative is so frightening that it's downright spooky. More of the same.

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