The Padres are a mess. Not all of the problem is perceptual, but part of it is. Padres Trail mentioned “the allure of expectation” in his discussion of GM Josh Byrnes’ recent firing, and it’s a concern.
If false hope cost Byrnes his job–and with the current ownership group, who knows what the real motivation was–then maybe a key going forward is to set more realistic expectations and communicate those to the buying public via the mystical, magical discipline of marketing.
I thought about this for, oh, a good five minutes and came up with a few suggestions. By the time you finish reading, it will be obvious why I never went into marketing. Honesty may be a good policy, but there are some places it just doesn’t belong.
Padres baseball: It’s anything but offensive
Why it should work: Fans don’t want to take offense, the Padres don’t want to give it. This will appeal to folks who favor the bland over the bold and who would rather poke fun at the team’s problems than see anyone try to solve them.
Why it might not: Some people don’t appreciate humor as a coping mechanism in the face of despair.
Verdict: Screw them if they can’t take a joke.
Padres baseball: Today probably isn’t the day
Why it should work: Carpe diem is passe, patience is the new black. Think of Padres fandom as a prison sentence, if that helps. Sure, today might be the day–nobody’s denying the possibility–but probably not. This isn’t pessimism, it’s statistics. And 97 percent of those don’t lie.
Why it might not: People with “standards” could balk at setting the bar so low.
Verdict: Whatever. Patronizing folks with entitlement issues will only make things worse.
Padres baseball: Making visitors feel at home
Why it should work: You’ve been to Petco Park when the Dodgers or Giants are in town. You’re outnumbered but don’t mind because the Padres rake in the cash regardless of who buys the tickets, and money in their pockets is money in your–oh, wait; that’s not how it works.
Why it might not: Because that’s not how it works. Honestly, were you even paying attention?
Verdict: Follow the money. Mi casa es su casa.
Padres baseball: Chicks dig grounders to second
Why it should work: It’s time to revive those commercials from the ’90s that celebrated steroids and sexism with a snappy catchphrase. Since the Padres don’t hit long balls, play to the team’s strengths. Truth in advertising is a powerful, disarming weapon. Plus it’s just fun.
Why it might not: Folks who disapprove of steroids, sexism, and/or fun won’t dig it.
Verdict: Hey, have you guys seen Yonder?
Padres baseball: You’ll have a time
Why it should work: By definition, anyone at a baseball game will have a time. Respect fans’ intelligence by letting them decide what type of time. Promising a great time or even a good time not only raises false hope (remember where that got Mr. Byrnes), it also denies their freewill. Leave that crap to Schopenhauer.
Why it might not: Not everyone is comfortable with freedom of choice.
Verdict: Tautology is tautology.
Padres baseball: Things could be worse, in theory
Why it should work: There is little doubt that things could be worse, for certain values of “things.” For example, the sun could supernova (actually no, because science, but I’m not rewriting the joke), which would be worse–if only for a moment and when viewed from an anthropocentric perspective.
Why it might not: What if it’s more than just a theory? What if things actually get worse?
Verdict: Stay indoors, just in case the sun supernovas (science!). That should protect you.
Padres baseball: We’ve got each other, and that’s a lot
Why it should work: People with money grew up in the ’80s, listening to bad hair bands. Work the nostalgia angle to separate them from their cash. Once you’ve got the slogan, you’re halfway there.
Why it might not: It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not? Geez, just hire Jon Bon Jovi as the next GM already.
Verdict: We’ll give it a shot.