Alright maybe this is a little premature but this has been slowly building for some time and I can't take it anymore. HOW THE FUCK DO THE PADRES & DODGERS GET INVOLVED IN EVERY MAJOR DEAL. It blows my mind. Legit no joke - every time there's something going in the MLB marketplace, the Padres and the Dodgers step up and get competitive. I understand there's some recency bias but just think for a second. You probably already forgot David Price is on the Dodgers while Joe Musgrove might not even register on some of your radars.
It's staggering how active and aggressive both teams are in managing the roster. If MLB were a nature documentary then the narrator would be talking about how the Padres & Dodgers eat their own offspring to get a slight advantage in the animal kingdom. They'd be the apex predators hunting down exotic gazelles and establishing mating rights through fatal, interspecies combat. Even if the Cape Buffalo aka the San Francisco Giants put up numbers, you know who the bad boys are. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Making matters worse is that I expected the Cubs to move into the same class after the famous NLCS run of 2015-17. Many of us did. There was a lot to be optimistic about and instead we slowly bled out in excruciating fashion. So yes, each time I see the Padres & Dodgers make a move, it hurts a little extra because I spent a lot of time thinking that would be us. It's not.
And while I tee'd this up with a question - why are they so much better? - the answer is actually very simple. Deep farm system + good ownership. Sounds simple but it's actually hard enough to get one of those things in MLB much less the double whammy.
On that note, it should alarm you that Cody Bellinger isn't a free agent until 2024. Or that the Dodgers have 5 HOMEGROWN All Star caliber starting pitchers. Or that the Padres still have an arguable top-5 system despite trading for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Adam Frazier and Joe Musgrove in the last 8 months. All that depth adds up because you can hit the free agent market confidently. You don't need Manny Machado to be the greatest 3rd baseman on the planet when he's surrounded by affordable yet bonafide stars. The number of examples like this up and down both rosters is, again, staggering.
This leads to a couple of bigger takeaways for me as these front offices continue to dominate the market:
1. It actually makes the Giants run that much more special as the season continues. They remain a few steps ahead on the backs of the most improbable trio of veteran, free agent starting pitchers: Kevin Guasman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. They've made 57 starts and pitched to a sub 2.80 ERA. I think we're all waiting for the wheels to fall off but maybe they won't. Maybe the Cape Buffalo really is the baddest dude on the block.
2. To me this is one of the better NL regular season storylines going into August that I can really ever remember. Two super teams that basically get whatever they want are still chasing first place. Both of them are still grinding out big trades and trying to get better. One of the three is guaranteed to miss the playoffs and all indications say it won't be decided until late late September. This is rekindling the OG feelings when Tampa got awesome from 08-13 and that's awesome. Everyone loves a healthy 3-team chase.
3. I still want to take a moment to remind everyone that it's absolutely ridiculous how active the Padres & Dodgers are with the roster.
4. At a broader yet more personal level, it's crushing to see the Cubs be in a position to sell. Several cornerstone players from the 2016 World Series will be leaving town shortly. Looking at the NL West race only makes it worse because you see it from all sides. The Giants are still competitive around their WS core about a decade after it's heyday. The Padres extended and paid their superstars. The Dodgers built a wagon out of their farm system. The Cubs failed tragically in all 3 areas and that's putting it lightly.
5. I'm jealous. I would like to get over it but I see shit like this and idk if I can make it through the week.
I said this was the worst 4-week stretch in my life as a Cubs' fan. Many people told me I must've forgotten all those 100 loss years. But oh contraire my friends. This is infinitely worse. An appropriate analogy can focus on money. At least when we we're getting our dicks kicked in, I knew we were broke. This is like winning the lottery then losing it over a series of 20 horrible business decisions. Not all at once in some market crash. I'm talking about repeated failures, one after the other, that have progressively led us to being broke as fuck again. I don't love it but that's life as a baseball fan.
Next stop: emotional closure.
Stay with me guys. It's going to be a long couple days. Maybe throw me a solid and subscribe to the podcast: