Shade Embry (divisionvixen) wrote in sports_sonnets,
Shade Embry

  • Music:

The Real Thing: Qualcomm Stadium, 1985-2003

The Real Thing

The song lyrics quoted herein belong to their artists: Andrea de Valois, Michelle Branch, Tonic, The Calling and Sarah McLachlan. The memories are mine and mine alone, though I know the dream has been dreamt by many. To all those who made it possible, because lives have never been the same since.

The summer of 1998 was perfect; nothing could have gone better. It is the highest point I have ever known, the moment when everything was validated, when I touched heaven, in my eyes. When Proposition C got through in San Diego, I was among those cheering that victory.

I knew what it meant. I knew it meant leaving. I've always known it, but now I stare it in the face, and things become different. The only true place I've ever known has been Jack Murphy Field. I can never just leave it behind.

So I talk in my sleep
Just to hear your voice again
And I walk through my dreams
Hoping that my tears will end
I can only hear the rhythm

No one in my family can remember when my first Padres game was. I've just always been going. I cheated death by virtue of being a Padre fan.
I am disabled, and in my early years I was fighting for my life. But the heart, spirit and ability that I saw in San Diego inspired me to fight on, flowed into me and stayed with me. I went on to play baseball and street hockey. I should have been dead.

It's not just the fence-jumping catches and speedy baserunning that made that happen. It was the soul of the fans, the players, everyone involved. That's a mystical force I've never seen anyone else match. When I'm inside those walls, everything is okay, anything is possible. Every time I have felt weak, I have run there and come out feeling strong. This is my sanctuary, and I need it like I've never needed any other place in life.

And I wanted to fly, so you gave me your wings
And time held its breath so I could sing, yeah
When I was alone, you came around
When I was down, you pulled me through
And there's nothing that I wouldn't do for you

I have a lot of role models in my life because I've had the blessing of being around so many people. Given my vocation, many of them are actors, writers and directors - Jon Favreau, Jeremy Piven, Aaron Sorkin, John Cusack, and so forth. But my heroes have always been Padres. Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, Brian Lawrence, Adam Eaton, Mark Kotsay, Eric Owens, they have always been the people I've looked to when I don't know the answer.

They're just athletes, I've often been told, they're not psychics or scholars (although some of them are smart and accredited, I point out defensively). That's not the point. They possess a stronger heart than anyone else I've known. They have a faith that stays through every crisis they face. They have a limitless compassion and they stand for something. I learned I had to stand for something.

The power you hold
Is a power that mends
The power inside
Is a power that heals

Through all the tragedies in my life -- and there have been fatalities, midlife crises, crises of faith, crises of conscience, tough decisions, you name it -- I've always rooted myself to my San Diego ties. Living in that city, experiencing that life, is who I am. And at the heart of that is Padre pride. And in Padre pride is a respect and reverence for the stadium.

It's the stadium where I got to see Tony Gwynn's induction into the Padre Hall of Fame. It's the stadium where I was there as they clinched the 1998 NL West championship en route to their best year ever. A World Series has been played here. It's the stadium where I cried, laughed, loved, lived, died. You don't ever forget that.

You were always invincible in my eyes
The only thing against us now is time

I'm more defensive of my team and my stadium than I am of a lot of things. I'm more defensive of that then of my own family, from whom I'm estranged. When a classmate decided to taunt me about how the NFL doesn't like the stadium, I nearly punched him. Badmouth my team or my town or my stadium, and I'll take your head off.

Bizarre behavior? Maybe to a point. But it comes from a place of love. In my world, you don't let a threat to you or yours go unchallenged, and my Padres are like family. My San Diego, my stadium, is like our home. My life's rises and falls can be charted with the seasons, some of my best memories have been written in the aisles. I've never felt the same as I do inside those walls. They gave as good as they got from our passionate fans, and I hope I can only give something back. If you don't say it, it can't be goodbye.

To be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it's in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born
To eternal life...
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