The Padres will soon put a bow on spring training, with those in uniform primed to deliver a season to remember.
That’s the plan anyway.
Until the Padres show otherwise, we’ll give them every chance to erase last year’s lasting memory of a campaign known for spiraling in the wrong direction.
Regardless which way one turns when eyeing Major League Baseball there’s more than the Padres flashing the North County card. That’s especially true of managers and coaches, who fell in love with our slice of paradise and never left.
Even if their working addresses took them elsewhere.
Cardiff’s Dave Roberts recently signed a three-year extension to lead the squad the locals love to hate. Yes, Roberts, a former Padres player, coach and executive, is being brought back after pointing the Los Angeles Dodgers to three World Series, and a title in 2020, during his six-year run.
Not bad for a former Rancho Buena Vista High quarterback who ran the option for the Longhorns. Of course, Roberts was also the leadoff batter and center fielder, plus the point guard on the basketball team.
That his athletic path sequenced from being a player to a managerial stint that snapped the Dodgers’ three-decade drought of not winning a championship shouldn’t be a surprise.
Then again, when Roberts says he’s blessed to be the Dodgers’ skipper, it’s not a Hollywood act.
“I love this organization so much,” Roberts said.
But so much was unsettled when Roberts graduated from RBV. A serious knee injury derailed his senior year and that motivated numerous colleges to rescind their interest in the undersized dynamo.
The Air Force Academy stayed with Roberts, but his heart couldn’t settle with football. He rebuffed Air Force’s offer to walk on the UCLA baseball team, with no promises that he would stick.
Roberts, of course, shined for the Bruins. Still, his name wasn’t called in the MLB draft until the 47th round, which usually means you won’t be around long. The kid from Vista defied the odds, then overcame cancer later in life, to become the man he is today.
That goes for his passion on and off the field, where this son of a Black man and Japanese woman never shies away from advancing social justice.
When Asians became the target of so many uncalled for verbal and physical attacks, Roberts fired off a statement to everyone with an @dodgers.com email address. Roberts let everyone in the organization know how strongly he felt.
Then when the Dodgers players stood down when Jacob Blake was killed in a police shooting in 2020, Roberts had their back.
“I think you guys have seen me more vocal outside of the baseball lane the last couple of years,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in that.”
Bud Black, the ex-Padres manager, doesn’t claim to be the pride of Solana Beach, but he’s a longtime resident. Black, like Roberts, recently was awarded a contract extension that has him managing the Colorado Rockies through 2023. He hasn’t quite had the success, or payroll, that Roberts has, but he’s the only Rockies skipper to lead them to consecutive playoff appearances.
Mark Kotsay of Rancho Santa Fe breaks the seal on his managerial career with the Oakland Athletics this season. Yet another manager with Padres roots, this former big leaguer will have another local on his hip.
Kotsay’s bench coach is Brad Ausmus, the Del Mar resident who also once wore a Padres uniform and managed the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels.
Poway’s Phil Nevin, Kotsay’s former Padres teammate, switched coasts and third-base coaching boxes, moving from the New York Yankees to the Angels.
Fly high, men, even if the majority of us have our eyes on the Padres. But if they circle the drain again, we’ll circle back to see how the North County posse is doing.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] and follow him @jparis_sports.