Padres Bloggers Night Recap

Padres Public in deep thought. Probably about something important and not beer related.

Padres Public (Rick, Geoff, Mel) in deep thought. Probably about something important and not at all beer related.

The Padres returned home last Thursday to begin their longest homestand of the season with four games vs the New York Mets. It was also the first of what may be many Padres Bloggers Night being put on by the Padres. Three of us were able to attend and were joined by members of Gaslamp Ball and the Friarhood.

Per our instructions we were to be at Petco at 3:45 SHARP. Awkward handshakes were exchanged as only people who write on the internet can do. Passes were handed out lest anyone think some random group of seven dudes just showed up for batting practice and suddenly we were off. We were taken to the field just in time to see Kyle Blanks crush 65 MPH BP fastballs into the Western Metal Building. Quickly we were corralled while we waited for Bud Black to finish up with the local media.

Then, after watching some more BP and baking a bit in the sun, Bud Black walked over, gave us the ole “How’s it goin’ boys?” and we were off. So, thoughts/takeaways from Buddy?

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Bud Black was as personable as he was tan. That is to say, very. Seems like members of the media like him and while I’m sure there are lots of reasons, his friendly nature and thought out answers to questions have got to be up there. I’m going to enjoy claiming to be one of his boys.

A couple things he had to say stood out to me. First, he talked at length about his strong working relationship with the Padres front office. It might just be a few well-publicized examples, but modern front offices don’t always gel with traditional managers. Those relationships are especially strained during times of bad baseball. I like the idea of a long-term manager in San Diego and while he does some things I don’t understand, it’s good that he appears on the same page as the front office.

Speaking of, the other thing that stood out for me was Black’s answer to my question about the data he uses while making decisions. He specifically mentioned batter/pitcher matchup numbers, which I’m not convinced there’s much predictive value there. He appeared to sense the direction I was going by asking my question as he went on to say that one can use data to prove or disprove anything. I suppose that’s true, but it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to ignore valuable information just because it’s possible for it to be poorly used.

Making himself available for some serious business questions like that and giving honest answers to address concerns I didn’t even bring up was very much appreciated. A theme from others we spoke to about Black was that he does a lot of work behind the scenes, some of which he frustratingly receives criticism for NOT doing. That’s gotta be a tough position to be in. He handles it well.

padres-batting-practice

RJ’s Fro

When Buddy came over it was very awkward for a few minutes. He kind of snuck up on us as we were all baking in the heat and we all instantly forgot the many questions we had thought up beforehand. Surprisingly he actually remembered me when he came to chat with the group by saying “Haven’t we met? Spring Training?”…close enough for me. I broke the ice by asking what he thought of Andy Masur’s broadcasting skills, since Andy was standing right beside him. Buddy had nothing but kind words for Andy, even though all he gets to listen to are the highlights. He seemed open and honest for all the questions asked and each answer was well thought out.

I had two questions that I wanted to ask him, one of which involved ending with me telling him “That’s blogging,” but I asked neither as it felt like Spring Training all over again for me and I could feel my flesh burning more and more with every passing second. Now let’s get this out of the way: I’m not one to criticize lineups, but many people do this, sometimes daily. Personally, I realize that there are many factors that we as fans don’t know about. Not to mention the coaching staff obviously has years and years more experience than me, so I’ve never felt qualified to question these types of things. While discussing lineups, per Melvin’s question, Buddy brought up an excellent point about dropping Chase Headley down in the lineup. Who do they put in his spot? He mentioned REDACTED and REDACTED and kind of scoffed at the mere idea of moving them there. I scoffed too at those players so Buddy had an excellent point. All in all it was a great chat with the skipper.

Left Coast Bias

It’s sort of a theme for the evening but Buddy was remarkably more open than I anticipated. When asked about the team’s mood and demeanor after the Cabrera suspension he was pretty forthright in saying the mood wasn’t great and there was a letdown. I think that was obvious for anyone watching the games but to hear the manager of the team come out and say that, as opposed to a canned “we have a job to do” type answer, was refreshing. There is definitely a sense with Black that his public persona and his behind-closed-doors persona are different. I think we got a glimpse of that behind-closed-doors persona in Colorado when, justifiably, Black chewed this team out in the dugout.

Meanwhile, right behind Black the Padres were taking BP and you would be hard pressed not to notice Andrew Cashner swinging some good lumber. He came over to chat with us after BP. Takeaways from the man who dresses the deer?

RJ’s Fro

Cashner was taking some mean hacks up there during BP, with some balls even leaving the yard. Shortly after witnessing this hitting display, we were told that Cashner “wanted to come chat with us.” As he approached and started fielding questions, he oozed #Texan and oozed #rig, both of which are good things. He, like Buddy, was open and honest with us. From conversations about becoming the staff ace (he wants to be), to being healthy for the first time in years (credit the Padres staff), to hunting (I asked to see his #dressedthedeer scar. You couldn’t see anything until he pointed it out even though he got 19 stitches. The surgeon was a magician! We covered it all with him. Melvin even asked what his favorite beer was at one point and he answered with Shiner Bock. Melvin immediately looked at me and asked what I thought of that answer? I gave Cash the approval and stated that that was a Texan answer.

Left Coast Bias

Favorite Cashner moments:

  1. “I’m anti-social media.” Apparently his agent wants him to get on Twitter but he is having none of that.
  2. When asked if he has any hunting plans for the offseason he said “not really.” Then rattled off about five different trips. Arkansas is where it’s at for duck hunting apparently.

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Cashner talked a lot about the trainers he’s worked with and credited them for keeping him healthy this year. I’m a bit of a fitness buff so I asked Andrew a follow-up for more specifics about the kind of work they did with him. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to show off my awesome fitness knowledge–the treatment he mentioned was something I’d never heard used in connection with sports. He credited working on his pressure points, among other things. I might have some research to do.

I also asked him about his camo shirt he used to wear under his jersey. Apparently MLB hates the military and told him he could no longer wear it. He jokingly said he’d wear it again if I paid his fine, and after learning that it was a bit pricier than your average HOA fine for inappropriate lawn ornaments (don’t ask), politely declined his offer.

Cashner had a great attitude and seemed genuinely interested in chatting with us. Nice guy, that one. I was glad Rick was familiar with Shiner Bock to give the seal of approval. I’ll have to try it; then it can be something to chat with Cashner about at future Padres blogger days.

Next on the docket was Jaff Decker, who was just a couple days out from a very loud first major league hit in Colorado. You better believe we talked about his hair.

Left Coast Bias

The first of many comments I received for my Tin Caps hat came from Jaff. He made a point to mention it twice while we chatted. That doesn’t really have anything to do with anything but it was fun for me. Naturally he chatted up his first HR in Colorado. Mentioned he got the ball back, which was cool to hear. I always wonder about stuff like that when it happens on the road. He definitely had a demeanor about him that showed he was happy to be up in San Diego. Not in an “I’m overwhelmed” sense but in a “I don’t want to go back to Tucson” sense. Can’t say I blame him there. Speaking of which, I kept wanting to ask him to compare AZ Mexican food vs San Diego but the timing never seemed right.

Most surprising revelation to me? That Alonso has been the player to take Jaff under his wings. Alonso is a young player himself so I found it interesting that he took that role on. I took it as a good sign that Alonso feels he is one of the cornerstones of this team.

RJ’s Fro

I asked Jaff which veteran on the team has taken him under their wing. He said that Travis Buck was the guy in Spring Training but currently it’s first-baseman Yonder Alonso. He seemed like a cool dude and was genuinely excited to be in the Majors.

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Similarly, what stood out for me was how much mentoring he received and how almost formal it was. Jaff said Travis Buck worked with him a lot in Tuscon, and there were rules like Decker having to be at the ballpark 20 minutes before Buck. Plus Buck always got there early to pile it on. I thought that type of role is played by coaches, so chalk up another reason to keep an open mind when learning about the game of baseball.

RJ’s Fro

After a while we pondered if the Padres were going to leave us there for the remainder of the game so we could get pelted by foul balls. Close to game time we were ushered up to the safe confines of a suite to watch the game. While on our journey we ran into the Colonel Jerry Coleman in the deep dark dungeons of Petco Park. He questioned if we were the enemy at first (due to an unnamed blogger wearing a Met blue shirt) and then saw our Padre gear and let out a deep sigh of relief. Shortly after, we found the new douchey  upscale Padres store called the Deluxe (or something like that). It was bright. It was loud. There was no sign of retro stuff. I wanted nothing to do with it at all.

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Seemed like an interesting location for a team store. I suppose people might pass that space going back and forth from the Home Plate Club.

Left Coast Bias

The trip to the suite was uneventful. That was of course until the Colonel walked by. It was brief. But fantastic. I think trying to explain to him who we were and why we were there might have been a hilarious comedy of errors.

Okay, suite time. Hot dogs and sliders provided, very nice. Bob Scanlan came by and was extremely pleasant. No big surprise. The instant replay news had come out that day and I’ve heard him be critical of it in the past so I couldn’t help but ask him. Naturally, he was against it though was able to predict we were all for it. He seemed particularly concerned that the postgame discussion will now be about how managers used their challenges instead of the game. That’s probably overstating the issue as it’s barely a problem in the NFL. But even if talking challenges was the discussion postgame I’m not sure I see that as a bad thing. It’s part of the strategy of the game just like pulling pitchers or pinch hitters.

That said, he was very gracious. And very welcoming. There are some in the media that are not fans of the blogging world, and I suppose with good reason. For the most part the media that covers the Padres are the opposite and seem to embrace it, Scanlan included.

RJ’s Fro

Finally when we got to the suite we settled in and grabbed some food. Shortly later Bob Scanlan came in and chatted with us. He hates instant replay but his hair looked fantastic as always. He told us he loved what we do and mentioned if we ever need anything to let him know. I’ll be hitting him up shortly to borrow some money for my new computer. We would later find out that he and Andy Masur gave us high praise on the radio during the game that night. We didn’t get to hear it but it is very much appreciated from us.

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Bob Scanlan was the most enthusiastic, animated, and lively of the folks we spoke with. He gestured with his hands a lot and paced a little as he stood and talked to us. He seems to make a strong effort to interact with Padres fans, which can be seen by his level of communication on social media. He reiterated a few times how much he enjoys the discussion, and it showed.

RJ’s Fro

GM Josh Byrnes then made an appearance in the suite. I’m not sure how much I can say from the conversation but unlike all the other guests, he seemed a little unwilling to open up to us. Which is understandable I guess. What do you guys think?

I will say one thing though. I asked who was involved in the “knock your socks off” trade from before the season. Im mentioning it because I didn’t exactly get a straight answer, so I feel it’s vague enough to mention. After some hemming and hawing, he jokingly said A-Rod followed by a he’d rather not say. I dug deeper and said well tell me the team. I got a no. I asked for division, league and position and got a no, no and no. He ended up saying that it was a player in his 20’s who was on the rise and controllable. After he left we all assumed it was Justin Upton that he was referring to.

Left Coast Bias

That’s interesting that your impression was he was not too open. All things considered I thought he was. Unlike other conversations, there was a sense of “off the record-ness” about it. That said, he was the second person to comment on my Tin Caps hat. Apparently he had just gotten back from Ft. Wayne. He asked if I’ve been (I haven’t). Since we were chatting about Minor League baseball I asked him how he thought Austin Hedges, Hashtag Swoon” href=”http://padrespublic.com/sacrifice-bunt/austin-hedges-hashtag-swoon/”>Mr. Swoon Austin Hedges was doing with his promotion to San Antonio. As with most young players when they get promoted, he’d like to see the bat turn around. I thought he made a good point regarding judging whether this team, as assembled, can compete for the West. Basically, it’s hard to say when the actual assembled team hasn’t been on the field yet due to injuries (referencing Luebke, Kelly, Wieland as well as Grandal and Cabby and Cam).

For me chatting with Byrnes was the highlight of the night. It’s not very often that you can ask the person making the decisions questions directly. And for what it’s worth, the women in my office were upset to learn he was not single.

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

Byrnes provided a ton of insight into how a team is run, dropping clues here and there that can’t be attributed to him but could be picked up on. We can’t expect him to give out details of negotiations, especially blockbuster negotiations. In fact, I’d prefer he err on playing things closer to the vest. See Towers, Kevin for more on what not to do.

For what it’s worth as a dude who owns a computer and makes websites, not runs baseball teams, I felt more on the same page with Josh Bynes’ approach to decisions than Bud Black’s. Byrnes’ background in modern front offices shone through, as did an organized process. His favorite beer is Presidente, a Dominican Pilsner, which I’d also never had and couldn’t offer any sort of response to upon hearing about it. Maybe a “tour of Padres’ preferred beers” party is in order.

Left Coast Bias

So, that brings us to promotional items. The Padres brought in some upcoming giveaways which we subsequently flooded Twitter with. Personally the scarf stood out for me. No sponsors and seemed to be of higher quality than most giveaways. And of course, the reusable shopping bags. Three different options: current day, ’98 style and brown. Pretty cool for a giveaway on paper that I was “meh” about.  Anyone make it to Cougar…I mean, Wine night?

The Sacrifice Bunt – Melvin

I was out of town, but Cougarfest sounded fun. But College Night also sounded fun so make of that what you will.

A big thanks to the Padres (mad love for Shana, David, Nicki, Harrison, and I’m sure others) for taking a risk and making Bloggers Night a thing, plus everyone including those we didn’t get to in our writeup for making time to chat and help us feel welcome. The Padres have some cool happenings planned on social media and there are some interesting ideas floating around for new ballpark experiences so be sure to watch for some hot new stuff. It was good meeting the guys from Friarhood, seeing the Gaslamp Ball (part 1 and part 2 plus more stuff) crew, and hanging out with fellow lushes Rick and Geoff. And if you’re still reading, here’s another goofy picture of us.

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  • I can’t believe no one thought to bring the Vedder Cup so Huston Street could take his picture with it.

  • Lonnie Brownell

    I take it Byrnes was not drinking coffee. Huston Street drinks coffee, because coffee is for closers.