Like Kroc, Fowler is passionate about Padres

Good to have ownership that wants better

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the comments of Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler on the Padres' flagship radio station Wednesday was what happened during the opening game of the 1974 season.

The Padres were losing, 9-2, to the Astros and had given up 15 hits while committing three errors in that April 9 game at San Diego Stadium when Ray Kroc grabbed the public address microphone.

What transpired is remembered as the "Fans, I suffer with you speech."

Kroc, who had purchased the Padres less than 2 ½ months earlier to save them from possible relocation, railed against his team that night.

"I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life!" he screamed.

His passion was evident to everyone in the ballpark. Had Twitter existed then, Kroc's diatribe would have been the No. 1 trending story in San Diego.

When I heard Fowler's comments Wednesday, the word that came to mind was passion. Like Kroc, Fowler has a passion to succeed. Like Kroc, he wants to win. Like Kroc, Fowler is not happy with the status quo.

I remember the fallout from 1974. The players were not happy. But the long-suffering Padres fans, who had almost lost their struggling team to Washington, D.C., found a champion in Kroc.

Kroc felt their frustration. Losing was not acceptable to him. It's not acceptable to Fowler, either.

Fowler was speaking from the heart as a San Diegan and a fan of the team he co-owns.

I've known Fowler for almost 40 years. He's a successful businessman. He's also extremely competitive. And he fires from the hip and speaks from the heart.

"Miserable failures," is the way Fowler labeled the Padres. He used the "E" word: "Embarrassing."

But that's not the main message I took from his comments.

Fowler wants better -- for the Padres, for San Diego. And his passion came across loud and clear.

"It's been embarrassing, I don't know how else to put it," Fowler said. "Our performance on the road trip, 1-7, was pathetic. I'm a very competitive individual. I think I've won a lot more than lost in my life. This baseball experience has been very frustrating, very embarrassing.

"The performance by our team [Tuesday], I can understand how Kroc would have grabbed the microphone. It's that frustrating. It's about as frustrating as it can get."

Fowler still believes better days are ahead. He backed Andy Green and the manager's coaching staff and said the upcoming Draft -- the Padres have six of the first 85 picks -- and international signing period starting July 2 are crucial to the team.

"We're doing everything we can going into the Draft and looking at international signings to get some guys who can get us there," he said. "In terms of the manager and coaching staff, we've got as good a group or a better group than I've seen.

"They're doing what they need to do. Part of it is on the players. But our job is to get the right players who can be motivated and determined at game time. Right now, we're not doing it. That's what frustrating for all of us."

"I don't think there is a brighter GM out there," Fowler said of A.J. Preller. "I don't think anyone works harder. But the results are not there, and I think A.J. would be the first one to tell you that."

Notes from the scorebook

• Infielder Yangervis Solarte is 12-for-29 (.414) over his last eight starts with three doubles, three homers, eight RBIs and seven runs scored.

• Center fielder Jon Jay is hitting .373 (13-for-36) with five doubles and a homer over his last eight games to raise his average from .269 to .286.

• First baseman Wil Myers is 6-for-12 the last three games.

• After having no home runs in the Padres' first 50 games, shortstop Alexei Ramirez has three during a four-game hitting streak (6-for-15). He tied his career highs with two homers and five RBIs Wednesday night during his first three-hit game of the season.

Matt Kemp was 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored Wednesday (June 1) after finishing May with a .186 batting average (and .189 on-base percentage) for the second straight year. His May batting average was 97 points lower than it was in April and his OPS of .561 was 328 points lower than the season's first month. He did have six homers and 14 RBIs.

• Outfielder Alex Dickerson's 29-game hitting streak came to an end Wednesday night with Triple-A El Paso. He still leads the Pacific Coast League with a .396 batting average. Since being optioned by the Padres to El Paso on May 14, Dickerson is hitting .444 (28-for-63).