Matt Latos, pitcher for the San Diego Padres, recently signed three baseballs with the words, “I hate SF!” These are powerful words coming from a dude that only has one full year in the Bigs under his belt.
As a devout Giants fan living in San Diego, I feel some pull to take responsibility for the divisive words of my fellow sun bronzed So Cal local (enjoy that mildly fabricated visual snapshot). I believe there are two ways to approach this bold, but immature statement:
1. Get Offended and Angry: Latos pitched pretty well against the Giants last year. Not dominant, but solid. With that said, Latos is far from a proven veteran. There are some guys who run their mouth and it is somewhat expected in the wonderful world of overpaid/immature athlete discourse. But those guys’ comments become an afterthought once they hit 40+ homers or win 20+ games the following year. Mat Latos is certainly not one of those guys (yet). In fact, he sandwiched his solid year by going 1-2 with a 6.20ERA in March/April and 1-5 with a 5.66 ERA in Sept/Oct. So, how could a guy with only one year of big league experience, who pitched terribly when it counted, say something like this? It is offensive, immature and will certainly create a heated rivalry in 2011.
2. Laugh Whilst Waving the WS Trophy: Maybe Latos was just trying to be funny? Even if he was, no Giants fan will give him that much credit, so we must continue to assume that he was trying to take an unwarranted jab. With that said, a Giants fan should be thrilled about his comments. Not only did he make himself look bad, he offered another opportunity to show off our World Series Trophy. What better way to offer a sterling rebuttal than to simply step to the trophy closet and begin to polish your hardware? I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard a fan’s recent response to Latos’ actions: “Lincecum should sign a ball that says ‘Who the (*&% is MattLatos’?”
Bottom line: Writing “I hate SF” isn’t intimidating…in fact, it might be showing some insecurity on the part of a team that collapsed in historical proportions down the stretch. Now, Latos can quiet his “haters” by pitching lights out next year (specifically against the Giants), but if he doesn’t he will realize the ceaseless brutality of a fan base that not only was offended, but has the pride of a championship banner to point to.
So was it something to get offended by, or to laugh at? Is there a third approach?