“SPEAKING OUT LOUD WITH A HIDDEN MESSAGE.”
by Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton
It carried a strong message, from our town to that team that moved out of town.
It was a show of force with a message loud and clear.
The “Celebrate San Diego” party at Petco Park on Saturday was impressive.
The Padres joined hands with the Gulls and Sockers. They invited the 5-universities in our city, to join the festival. And then the fans came out in droves. From San Diego State to tiny Point Loma Nazarene, USD, UCSD and Cal State-San Marcos.
Anywhere from 15-to-18,000 were at the Park in the Park. They cheered, they high fived, they wore their gear, showed their colors, and joined hands.
It was eerie the celebration downtown occurred 1-month to the day that greedy Chargers owner Dean Spanos took his ball and went home, taking his NFL team and moving it to LA.
A month of anger, sadness, emptiness, was set aside all day Saturday just outside Petco Park.
Fans showing support for the rebuilding effort of the Padres. Hockey fans wearing their Gulls jerseys. Aztecs fans wearing Red & Black, with Torero fans in blue, to Triton and Sea Lions fans too.
1-thing missing. Absolutely no one wearing San Diego Chargers hoodies, sweatshirts, hats, jerseys. No Lightning Bolts to be seen anywhere.
And as the fans spoke to CW-6, one thing was common. Their dislike, their disgust, their disapproval of the dishonesty of Spanos, his family, his franchise, gone on a money-grab to Los Angeles.
Across the board, the sentiment was the same, from Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who continues to maintain Spanos made a decision he will forever regret.
The feelings of future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, speaking about an ‘open wound with salt’ that Spanos left behind, exiting after 56-years of loyal fan support.
Ditto from longtime Chargers linebacker Billy Ray Smith, who preached it was not the fans fault this happened.
And of course all those fans, who bought all those tickets, dating from Balboa Park-AFL days, to the final days of last season, were angered. 1-even used an obscene gesture at our camera crew, to express how he felt about the team that left town.
A salute to the Padres for the civic gesture to put something like this together for the entire community. The ownership group sure does know how to throw a party.
Ron Fowler, who has become the face and voice of sports ownership in this town, now has the town all to himself. It will be important that this blueprint of draft picks and international players, get to the majors soon.
It will take patience for sure over the next two summers, for the kids to arrive, that a bucket full of good health, with the hope injuries of the past, are just that, in the past. You hope, but realize 100-loss seasons could be coming.
It seemed like Saturday was the day of closure for a community done a terrible dis-service by a despicable man with his search for dollars, Spanos.
The Chargers were not invited, and wouldn’t have come. They were cowards when they announced they were moving, and would have been cowards if they arrived, as if they cared.
Sure Philip Rivers would have been cheered and beloved on his way out of town.
It was interesting that Dean Spanos said his franchise was prepared to fight to win over the fans in LA. So far, they seem to be losing.
From the first LA Times column that read “you’re not wanted’, to what we reported last night.
In a 14-day count of sports stories in the LA Times, there was only 1-about the Chargers in the paper. There were a combined (8) involving either the Rams or Raiders. There were (28) about the Lakers-Clippers, in the midst of their seasons. UCLA and USC had a combined (14) covering football recruiting and basketball.
And the Kings-Ducks accounted for (12) stories Even the LA Galaxy had 6-soccer stories over that span.
One Chargers story. That’s just a shade above the “Animal House-John Blutarski” figure of (0.00). The Chargers of Carson are off the radar right now, in their supposed new home.
Good luck playing home games in a soccer stadium, where the skyline of Carson is dotted with oil refineries. Good luck with the 5-405 traffic jams. Maybe they’ll change their colors to blue-gold and smog brown, to fit the air quality where they will play.
Maybe the bitterness will subside here in America’s Finest City, even with how badly that family ownership treated the town.
But for 6-hours outside Petco Park, the community stopped mourning, ceased raging, and embraced what we have here. Teams that care. A skyline view of the Coronado Bridge. Good weather.
As the mayor said the day after the decision was made, San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers. The Chargers lost San Diego.
Truer words never spoken if you were part of the jammed packed crowd at the Park in the Park.
1-month to the day that the Spanos family turned its back on San Diego, the sports fans turned out in force to support the teams in town, that cared about our community.