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Jay Paris: Black not the reason the Padres are blue

The colors of the baseball season are abounding.

While some regions embrace the changing of the leaves, we get the switching of the hues by eyeing the local nine.

Just look to the Padres for your clue.

May Gray is here and a peek outside says so.

But it says here the month known for gloom won’t include San Diego manager Bud Black getting his pink slip.

Although 50 shades of gray might explain Black’s hair and you’ll see, too, the next time he doffs his cap.

What’s shaking to make the dark roots scram?

The Padres, guess what, still play like the Padres on occasion — Black’s locks prove it.

You know that head-scratchin’ bunch we’ve come to know and love — or curse. It can be maddeningly inconsistent on offense and — something new this year — the pitching is pedestrian.

But this season wasn’t going to be a walk in the Petco Park no matter how much magic general manager A.J. Preller performed. Even with the Encinitas resident pulling rabbits from out of a hat during a hectic offseason, no whiz can make his squad go bagel — as in 162-0.

So the Padres are right around .500 after 40 games. Not long ago, that mark would have Rancho Santa Fe’s Black worthy of manager of the year consideration.

Instead, some fans are balking that Black’s ninth season isn’t one easy stroll to the playoffs.

You do remember where the Padres hang, right? If any baseball boosters are cognizant about the pitfalls of locations — how much did you pay for that cramped condo? — it should be the Padres’ faithful.

The Padres reside in the National League West and that ain’t the fixer-upper neighborhood.

The Dodgers won the division last year and celebrated by adding $200 zillion to their payroll — we’re kidding — maybe.

The Giants won three World Series in five years. Manager Bruce Bochy can only make a peace sign with available fingers minus jewelry.

The Diamondbacks are scrappy.

The Rockies, we give you, are something that rhymes with scrappy.

It’s understandable Padres fans are frustrated as their patience ran out about two owners ago.

But Black is the glue that has held this floundering squad’s head above water when the floods arrived. Now that sunshine and dry land surface, many want to send him packing.

“That would be crazy,’’ Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said. “Pepe is the best!”


“We were coaching with the Angels and Pepe was telling me about once being the winning pitcher in the Caribbean League World Series,’’ Maddon added. “I said, ‘Man, the headline that day must have read: ‘Bud Negro wins the title.’’’

Black, who was on the 2002 Angels staff with Maddon that won the World Series, shook his head.

“The translation of my name down there became ‘“Pepe Negro,’’’ Black said, keen that we’d been speaking to Maddon.

Maddon, as usual, howled.

“So we started calling him ‘Pepe’ and that is how the legend was born,’’ Maddon said.

Maddon thinks the world of Black and that opinion carries the day around the major leagues. Chase Black away if you must, but look no further than Bochy of what happens when a good baseball man slips away.

“Get rid of Pepe?’’ an incredulous Maddon said. “That wouldn’t be very smart.’’

In more colorful language, Maddon thought of Pepe being punked and basically said: “Don’t go there, amigo.”

We agree.

The Padres should retain their manager and that’s as plain as Black and white.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

1 comment

Michael K Rohde May 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

I’m not sure if I need to get my eyes checked or a mental health exam. Mssr. Paris says keeping Bud Black is as plain as a bad pun. I must confess that I do not share Paris’ certainty about Black’s employment. I’m not sure how many managers have been allowed to keep managing after 5 or 6 losing seasons, but I suspect that is one short list.

I respect Black and believe he is not the only thing keeping San Diego out of the playoffs. But the manager is about as big a piece of the puzzle as there is, and the Padres are no exception. When I watched Rizzo currently hitting .340ish with the Cubs last night it occurred to me that there are other players who have left San Diego and performed better offensively. You can’t blame the park for every one of these. Black seems to think that players are interchangeable at times and his devotion to the righty/lefty batting solution is simply misplaced. I suspect he has become a disciple of the statisticians at times, quite fashionable, but the players that earn their daily bread hitting and pitching know numbers can be used to support any decision in baseball. This teams’ propensity to score 10 runs 2 nights in a row and then get shut out used to be amusing. It is a glaring sore visible to anyone caring enough to look below the surface now. That sort of feast and famine offensive performance is indicative of a team that has some problems with belief. Black has gone to some lengths to be identified as a players coach and while his teams appear to compete, the box scores tell a different story when the team leading the league in scoring all of sudden gets shut out 4 out of 11 games. Injuries are part of the story but not all of it, especially when you score 20 runs in 2 games and then get shut out like last years Padres. Black’s handling of the offense seems to rely on the belief that position players are interchangeable and hitters are too. I know if you ask a player would you prefer to play the same position and hit in the same spot in the line up every day the vast majority would say yes without thinking. Who doesn’t want predictability in their work lives? Without actually charting it, which I’m sure computer nerds have done already, I’d wager that the players who have been forced to play a position other than the one that got them to the big leagues don’t fare as well as the ones who play that position in the majors, on offense or defense. There is a connection here with some of the defensive break downs we’ve seen that have cost us some W’s. I dare say some of the offensive failures we’ve seen from players that we know can hit major league pitching fit in this category too. If the results were any where near positive from these line up calisthenics I’d say keep it up. The only audience that matters has voted on this system over the years and the vote is that Bud Black is not smarter than baseball, starting line-ups work for a reason and hitting in the same spot and playing the same position every day works the best for the vast majority of baseball players, notwithstanding the obscure statistics that the nay sayers will trot out to show otherwise. There are times I thought Black was being forced to try to play Billy Bean ball ale Oakland by the front office. Maximizing each players unique talents by placing them in the best position to succeed is what managers do. The one’s that do it well, like Joe Maddon, make it look effortless, just like the star players make playing look easy. It is a gift, hard to define and measure but no less a gift. We’ve been waiting for 7 or 8 years for that gift to manifest itself. Even with the lack of talent on some of these rosters, Black should have shown he at least understands these basic maxims of player handling and the requisite decision making that is part and parcel of that. You have to sell the starting line up to the pitching staff as well as the position players. I think we need to pay attention to the voters, i.e., the players. They have voted with their batting averages, on base percentages, rbi’s and era’s. Some of these votes have been good. The result hasn’t shown up in the W column. What’s an owner to do?

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