Tucson’s loss is El Paso’s gain

s-kevinwilson19.jpgThe Major League Baseball season will conclude this week, which can only mean it’s time to figure out what ballparks I’m visiting in 2014.

A friend of mind who lives in Texas was interviewing for a job in Detroit. She gets the job, I visit her and catch a Rangers-Tigers series. She doesn’t get the job, I console her with a Rangers-Astros series in Houston to see the ballpark there.

Before either of those, though, I plan to grab a less expensive seat in El Paso. I have a conference to attend in May down in Sun City, and the El Paso Chihuahuas are hosting Sacramento for a four-game set. There’s nothing like seeing a new ballpark, checking the lay of the land and seeing what the signature concession stand items might be.

I tell you all of this because I need to deliver proper context.

I may not love the name, but I think the Chihuahuas are great for El Paso and I can’t wait to go catch a game. The only people more excited about it than me are current and former El Paso residents, who helped the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate garner 22,000 Facebook “Likes” so far.

My El Paso friends have all posted something along the lines of, “It took the Tuscon Padres three years to get 10,000 likes on Facebook. It only took the El Paso Chihuahuas 20 hours.”

We’re now comparing apples and avocados. Yes, El Paso fans are great … but let’s speak a little to those fans in Tucson who clearly hate baseball.

The Portland Beavers were sold in 2010 to a group headed by San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad. The plan was to move the team to play in Escondido, Calif. The team was moved to Tucson with the understanding that it would end up in Escondido when the stadium was finished.

For those of you without a map, Tucson is in Arizona. Hey, the Arizona Diamondbacks play there. They’re located in Phoenix, about 110 miles away from Tucson. They’ve been there for 15 years, enough time to build a fan base that just might stretch to Tucson. Also, the Diamondbacks play in the same division as the San Diego Padres, which is easy to remember when you name your Triple-A affiliate the same thing and don’t even try to pay homage to the city of Tucson.

Imagine a Division-II college set up in El Paso and called its sports teams the Texas Tech-El Paso Red Raiders. University of Texas-El Paso Miner fans might not rush to switch allegiances.

Oh, the stadium deal in Escondido fell through. No Tucson buyer could be found, because a city 110 miles from Phoenix doesn’t want to cheer for the organization of its division rivals.

The sales pitch boiled down to, “Hi Tucson, we’re the Triple-A affiliate of a division rival you’ve hated for 15 years, and everything in the stadium reminds you that you’re cheering for players you’ll boo when they get to San Diego. Also, we’re leaving the first chance we get. Be sure to like us on Facebook.”

Tucson’s loss is El Paso’s gain. But it doesn’t make Tucson stupid, and it doesn’t make their residents bad fans.

 Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media, Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email:

kwilson@cnjonline.com

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