Nats vs. Padres Q&A with Jason Woodmansee

Despite living in Southern California, Jason Woodmansee is a name familar to DC sports. The George Washington University grad has gained attention for his Stop Shuler web site which made the case that Heath Shuler shoudn’t be elected to Congress because of being a bad Redskins quarterback. He also had The Coach is Killing Me, a site about surviving the Norv Turner (current San Diego Chargers head coach who was in Washington for most of the 1990s in the same capacity) experience for a second time. It lives on, sort of, on flickr. Currently, Woodmansee can be found contributing to the Box Seats blog on The Post.

I don’t know any San Diego Padres fans, but Woodmansee lives there, so that is close enough. Oh and this is much more fun that trying to come up with something following the Washington Nationals dreadful 1-7 road trip that included sweeps by the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets and losing a series in Baltimore.

I’ve got to level with you, coming up with questions about the San Diego Padres isn’t easy — the strike me as just a run of the mill mid-market team. Even their greatest player, Tony Gwynn, was kind of a boring superstar. Other than the Swinging Friar mascot, there just isn’t much that is interesting about the Padres is there?

JW: First of all, Tony Gwynn (who I affectionately call “Fat Tony”) is awesome. He’s a quality person and one of the best hitters ever, so just because he never dated Madonna doesn’t make him boring. He’s kind of the West Coast Cal Ripken (WFY: Lots of GIDP?), which is the highest praise you can possibly give someone.

JW: That being said, it is true that the Padres haven’t been particularly flashy team over the years. The most unique experience that I can think of is when Trevor Hoffman used to come in to save games. Sure, Mo Rivera has “Enter Sandman,” but “Hells Bells” is the PERFECT closer entrance music. When the crowd hears that first bell ring, they go nuts. I would get goosebumps even as a non-Padre fan. Heck, I’m getting goosebumps now.

You have lived in San Diego for some time now, but have yet to adopt the Padres or the Chargers. What has kept you for transferring loyalties to the teams of city you are raising a family in? Do you ever find yourself cheering for the Padres? Have you adopted the Nats at all since you like other DC teams? We’re not going to talk about that AL team you follow.

JW: I believe strongly that you can’t switch teams unless that team moves away from you (and even then, you have the option to keep with them). You can’t erase years of passion & rooting interest just because you have a different zip code. As you reference, I grew up an Orioles fan, but was super-psyched when the Nationals cam to DC. Even though I was living 3000 miles away, I knew I had a NL team. That first year, I wondered how my loyalty would work – would I start drifting towards the Nationals? Would I like the O’s & Nats equally? But as soon as the season started, it was obvious – the Orioles will always be my team. There’s too much history (and pain) for it to go away.

Editor’s note: I’m giving him a slight pass because if memory serves, this dude is from York, Pa. which has more legitimacy as O’s territory than DC ever did. I still get to point out that Peter Angelos is a coward though. I also believe you can switch teams if you move and if you are raising kids in that place, you probably should

JW: Now, do I find myself rooting for the Padres? Of course. I’ve never really had strong opinions for teams in the National League, so when I go to games, I’ll always root for the home team (unless they’re playing the Nationals or Orioles, of course). I’d love to see them get in the playoffs and do well every year – I may not have adopted the Padres, but I have adopted San Diego as my new home town, and it’s always better to have a winner in town. My kids have already started the transition, however. San Diego is all they’ve known, and they want to root for the local teams they can watch. You’ll be proud to know that last weekend, when the Orioles & Nationals were playing, my son asked who I was rooting for. I told him Orioles, but he said that he was going with the Nats, after all “they’re from Washington, like the Redskins.” Still, they’ll still probably wear Padres hats when we go to the Nationals game next month just to taunt me.

Editor’s note: Smart kid

I remember in the Boys of Summer, then GM Buzzie Bavasi lamented that Padres played in a place that had the ocean on one side, mountains on another, Los Angeles on top of it and Mexico below it. Looking at attendance though, it looks like the Padres have done okay over the last 10 years. What kind of buzz do the Padres have in San Diego?

JW: This is true of Southern California sports in general. It’s one of the reasons there’s not an NFL team in LA, and why you don’t come across a lot of die-hard Padres fans. It’s hard to properly communicate how nice it his to live here – how the weather & geography allow for a relaxing lifestyle, even when you’re working hard. There are many days that I just walk around and can’t believe that I live here. People just don’t take sports as seriously here – and I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean, if you live in an hell hole like Philadelphia, the Phillies & Eagles are IMPORTANT. I mean, what else do you have to look forward to? If the Padres lose, hey – you’re still in San Diego.

Do you see a lot of Padres hats or other merchandise being worn around town? How do you like the Padres uniforms? Do people actually like the camoflauge ones that are supposed to honor the military?

JW: I mostly see Padres stuff on cars on the freeways. I don’t personally know many Padres fans, believe it or not. As transplant towns go, take DC and multiply it by 10 times. In my last office, we had fans of the Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers. And that’s the ones I can think of just off the top of my head. There were 2-3 people who I would call serious Padres fans who actually owned items of clothing. My friends who are season ticket holders are Twins, Yankees, or Cubs fans – they root for the Padres unless their team is in town.

The Padres uniforms are uninteresting. I liked the old interlocking SD hat, but otherwise, the uniform history is not a good one. I do see the camouflage stuff sometimes – the military presence is significant here. I’ve been to several games where the upper deck in right field is filled up with a company of Marine recruits from the local Recruit Depot (where Marines west of the Mississippi go instead of Parris Island). In the 8th inning, they all file out and march to their buses. I always figure that for those guys, it is the most enjoyable ballgame they’ll ever go to, considering what they’re in the middle of.

One aside – I do see a fair amount of Nationals gear – but out here the curly W stands for “Westside” or “West Coast.” I wrote about it for the Post – even Ice Cube wears Nationals gear. It’s weird to see – I initially said “Go Nats” to people I saw, but people had no idea what I was talking about. Kind of a weird thing.

What is the Petco Park experience like? Will you be attending any of the series? Are the Fish Tacos really that great?

JW: Petco is one of the relatively generic new old-style ballparks, which is a lot better than the generic multi-purpose stadiums of the 70’s. There are a bunch of nice things there, but nothing that would make it a place you HAVE to see. AT&T Park & Dodger Stadium are definitely on that list. The sitelines are good, it’s easy to get to, and there are tons of things to do before and after the game. It’s a million times better than when they played at Qualcomm Stadium with the Chargers.

The fish tacos aren’t any better at Petco than anywhere else in San Diego, but that still means they’re great. It took me a couple of years to get into fish tacos when I moved here – it seemed too weird for me. But I was wrong. They’re fantastic. And now I’m hungry.

How is our buddy Norv doing?

JW: Better than one would have reason to expect. The ownership doesn’t meddle (please send this note directly to Dan Snyder) and GM A.J. Smith is too stubborn to say Norv was a mistake. People get upset with Norv every year, and then summer comes and everyone chills out and forgives him. Norv may have found the one place in the country we’re he can work indefinitely.

What’s the reaction in SoCal to FIVE GUYS coming into In-N-Out territory?

JW: You know, not one person has mentioned it to me. In-N-Out is so ingrained in Southern California culture, I don’t think they’ll lose any business. This area has the best fast food options in the country – the drive through was invented here. And Five Guys makes those choices even better.

Since this is called the “guest prognosticator” series, I guess I should have asked for a prediction on this upcoming series and the season series.

JW: My prediction: very few runs. Other than that, who knows?

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