On Tuesday night, Padres pitcher Chad Qualls irked some Giants players and some fans when he spiked the baseball and yelled after tagging Andres Torres out at the plate. We can argue whether the Giants — who have a number of players who are demonstrative, flashy and just plain silly — have any standing to take issue with Qualls, but justified or not, there is some tension there. Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that San Francisco talk radio was buzzing with serious Qualls hate all day yesterday.
Don’t expect that tension to be reduced any after Jenkins’ story, however, because Qualls — while speaking pretty truthfully based on what my San Francisco correspondents have told me — added some fuel to the fire, at least with the fans, when he had this to say about playing in beautiful AT&T Park:
“Playing in San Francisco, you gotta understand, when you’re warming up two feet from the fans, they’re not telling you how good you are or telling you how glad they are that you’re warming up. They’re calling you every name in the book, every cuss word in the book. To shut them down on an inning where we’re ahead, it’s kinda putting it to the city and the fans, because they’re just wearing you out on a consistent basis as you’re warming up, spitting on you, calling you anything they want. The later the game, the more drunk they are, the more harsh the words.”
Like I always say in such situations, Chad: don’t go halfway with this. Make it a full heel-turn. Feed on their anger and take it as over-the-top as you can. It may make road trips to San Francisco hard in the short term, but in 20 years you’ll be asked to come up for speaking engagements and dinners and conventions and all kinds of good stuff because everyone loves a villain.