Never mind that the bright lights belong to Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres superstar shortstop who draws fans to Petco Park time and again and make them rise to their feet when he launches rockets into the sky. Forget that he’s marketable, charismatic, flashy, and supremely talented. Yes, he’s still a top-10 player when he’s actually on the field, regardless of what an arrogant, egotistical, narrow-minded buffoon he might be.
Everything has always been about him, and not the team. Clearly, the Padres have enabled him to behave like a selfish, self-entitled brat who still needs somebody to hold his hand and spoon-feed him. This comes off as a big-name, flashy player who doesn’t care about his teammates, the fans, nor the city. This sounds like a teenybopper who shouldn’t have been rewarded a 14-year, $340 million contract extension.
He is selfish, immature and stupid. It’s obvious by now. This looks irresponsible. This feels reckless. This is almost certainly damaging. Then again, if the Padres are willing to forgive him, even after he broke trust, Tatis can win it back with his play on the field. In a shocking development, Tatis was suspended 80 games by MLB for testing positive for a banned substance. And that, for the league, has to be terrible news. It created a shockwave across the baseball world with the universal reaction from fans. Amid the team’s attempt to make a last-minute push for October, the Padres have learned he won’t play a big-league game in 2022.
But while Tatis might be gone, he isn’t going anywhere. And when he does return from a lengthy suspension he can show off his athleticism and all of this most likely will be forgotten since there is this long-held theory that winning cures everything. This guy, unquestionably, embodies the type of athlete Major League Baseball desperately wants and needs. He was given financial security as one of the cornerstones of a contending team. He has since behaved worse than petulant child.
This is exactly why the Padres should have waited before paying him, locking him up, which would have been the smart thing to do. It appears he’s not ready to grow up just yet, that he still needs to mature. Talent isn’t good enough. Yes, he’s good at baseball, but it doesn’t matter because he obviously has character issues that have lead to a competitive disadvantage. This probably isn’t going to sit well with Padres GM A.J. Preller, who has to be growing tired of Tatis.
There’s no one else to blame but the Padres themselves for enabling Tatis to act dangerously and selfishly. Preller should be mad at himself for allowing this to happen. Maybe he’s afraid to stand up to him. Or just doesn’t want to hurt Tatis’ feelings. Or just wants to build a culture of accountability with minimal drama. But if nothing else, Preller should have pulled Tatis aside to have a talk with him about the wrist injury suffered by a motorcycle accident that happened in the offseason.
If Tatis thinks the Padres are going to put up with a great deal of nonsense from him, he’s kidding himself. To be clear, his reckless and immature acts have had a profound impact on the team, and his absence from the team has proven to be a real loss. This is now more about where the Padres stand without their superstar. This team has watched Tatis develop from a child prodigy to arguably one of the most captivating stars in the game. The city watched him showcase his natural power and make unreal and amazing plays.
This is not what the Padres had in mind when their superstar was only days away from returning from the wrist injury that kept him out all season. Their only choice now is to wait and hope that his foolish mistake is one he can learn from. Maybe now he’ll actually grow up and take his career more seriously. If history is any indication, they’ll be willing to give him another chance to turn it around since he’s one of the game’s brightest young stars.
If both sides really want this to work, it should work. But now it’s up to Tatis to make the Padres earn back the trust of not only his teammates but Preller and even the fans who by now should be annoyed at his self-inflicted missteps. His rampant stupidity that has resulted in a prolonged punishment is bothersome by a certain segment of the public. He’s complicated. He’s a distraction. He’s a work in progress and has a lot of maturing to do before he can be taken seriously.
Tatis deserves every ounce of criticism he’s getting for using a banned substance. The scars of Tatis’ drug bust might never go away — at least not anytime soon. Image is everything because it has come to define one’s character. And his might never recover from this. In order for him to repair his damaged reputation, he has to realize that he can’t make it all about him. Now, though, he’s suffering the consequences for his own actions. He’s one of those guys who wants to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t want to prioritize the needs and goals of the team over his own individual needs and goals.
And here’s hoping that this time, when Tatis is done serving his suspension, he pulls himself together and stays on his best behavior. If that doesn’t change quickly, he’ll lose credibility and become a constant distraction and the Padres can’t have any of that while in pursuit of a playoff berth. It’s already bad enough the Padres’ title hopes have been greatly diminished. His absence will impact the team for the rest of the season. Man, are they done without him. The spotlight again dimmed down on the most important star. This falls on Tatis because if you’re dumb enough to use a medication directly listed as a banned anabolic steroid in MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement and release a statement defending yourself, then that’s on you.
As far as most are concerned, he gave a weak and bogus reason for inadvertently taking a medication to treat ringworm caused by a haircut that contained Clostebol. Excuses are plentiful for doing wrong. What if he irresponsibly used the drug to cheat the game and try to get a competitive edge over the next guy? Just saying. We may never know. Many who spoke out against it don’t buy into his ridiculous lie for being a cheat.
This is certainly the wildest story this season. The latest controversy in baseball is a popular name that will forever live in infamy in San Diego sports lore. For that Tatis’ entire career is forever tainted. As good as a player he may be, he has tarnished what he has achieved as a high-profile star. And while he has brought sensual enjoyment to the game of baseball, he has brought back vivid memories of baseball’s dark age.