SAN DIEGO—Former San Diego Padres General Manager Kevin Towers has seen his life go straight to the dogs. Three bulldogs, to be precise.
His youngest, Arlow, has really taken to the San Diego lifestyle. Right down to the skateboarding.
"He came from the same breed as Meaty, the one that's been on MTV," Towers said. "We actually bought him in Arizona and figured there's blood lines there. We lived down at the boardwalk in Pacific Beach so there's tons of skateboarders going by and any time he'd be on the patio he'd just go berserk, like through the hedges, knock skateboarders off their skateboards like going after their skateboard so we figured there's definitely a fetish for wheels and boards so we got him his own skateboard. We get out a couple times a week, try to let him work on his craft."
Towers met us at Crown Point Shores recently so Arlow could demonstrate his skills. The bulldog went bananas when Towers pulled out the skateboard and proceeded to put his front paws on the board and push it across the basketball court. When he built up enough speed, Arlow put his rear paws on the board too. When he needed a boost, his right rear paw kicked on the ground, keeping him moving.
"It's pretty much self taught," Towers said. "I mean, all you do is get the board going for him. I mean, I'm not a really good skate boarder, he's probably better than me."
Every ride ended with Arlow attacking the wheels, turning the board into a chew toy as onlookers pointed, laughed and took photos.
Towers, in t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, couldn't help but smile too. Since the Padres fired him last October, Towers has enjoyed living the dog's life.
"I walk bulldogs, I feed bulldogs, I cook for bulldogs," he said. "They don't eat kibble, we cook in a crock pot. You can often find me down at Whole Foods gettIing salmon, organic chicken, with squash, zucchini, cauliflower. Oh yeah, they're spoiled."
Towers also said all three of his bulldogs get accupuncture and massage. "I wanna be a bull dog in my next life," Towers said.
As for his next life in baseball, Towers says he has no plans to rush back in.
"I really haven't had any time off in twenty five years," Towers said. He was taken in the baseball draft in 1982, then moved into the front office once his playing career was over.
"(The time off has) has been kinda nice," Towers said. "I went and saw my doctors the other day. When I was a GM my blood pressure usually ran about 145 over 100. It's 102 over 56 now. So it tells you what the stress of the job can do to you.
"I've talked to some friend like Walt Jockety, Doug Melvin that have been let go before and they're all kinda kickin themselves in the pants saying that they thought maybe they went back too early. They suggested just to take a little time, foster the marriage, get healthy again, recharge the batteries.
"But I'd be lying if I didnt say when spring training comes around you start gettin that itch again."
As the Padres general manager, Towers focused all his attention on his team. Now, he has the luxury of stepping back and looking at all of baseball. Asked for his thoughts on the recent admissions of steroid use by Mark McGwire, now the St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor.
"I think the thing that bothers me sometimes is that these guys say sometimes that they're sorry," Towers said. "I don't think they're really sorry. I think what they really need to say is, 'you know what it was an era, without naming names, there were probably several people using it. Am I sorry? No. But that's what everybody at that time did. But I think what these players should be sorry about is they're role models and kids and youth and college and high school kids looked up to these guys and they thought that that's what they had to do to get into professional baseball and that's what's sad. That is a horrible message that was sent to those kids and hopefully the kids know now that steroids aren't your way into the game it's your way out of the game.
Five years ago, Towers became the first general manager to say that he suspected steroid use in baseball in the 1990's. His admission came after the death of former Padres third baseman Ken Caminiti who admitted steroid use to help him win the Most Valuable Player award in 1996. His death in 2004 caused towers to reflect.
"I kind of beat myself up," he said. "Was there things I could've done to prevent that? Those are usually things are not done openly in a clubhouse.
"Yeah, I probably brought a lot of attention not only to myself but the organization back in 2004 and 2005 which at the time I probably didn't make my bosses real real happy. But I think hey the game's much better. I think some of the steps that major league baseball's taken in the way of testing right now that I don't know if we'll ever have a completely clean game but I think it's much more clean than it was back in the nineties. I think that the kids know more than anything right now, at least college and high school kids and little league kids that stuff won't be tolerated and there'll be less lives lost to it which I think is great."