Appreciate The Passion

When the Padres announced that they had decided to name some part of Petco Park after Bud Selig, fans were understandable confused and upset. Bud Selig never really seemed to make San Diego much of a priority during his tenure. It was strange to hear that he was instrumental in saving baseball in San Diego, which seems to have been a state secret so closely guarded that local media who were not only born but working as local professionals during said era seem to be confused by the claim.  And though Mike Dee said he appreciates our passion, fans are still in an uproar. Perhaps this is one reason why:

“(We) appreciate the passion” seems to be Padres corporate speak for “you think we screwed up, but we don’t care.” It’s hot air designed to make you feel like your opinion matters, but the response by CEO Mike Dee on the subsequent episode of “Padres Social Hour” (owned, operated, and produced by the San Diego Padres, Inc.) indicated they weren’t so much appreciative of fan passion, but were more interested in quelling it. Instead of addressing concerns, Dee instead decided to give Padres fans a history lesson. Or, condescend to them and provide a revisionist’s history of Bud Selig’s relationship with San Diego. The irony here being that Selig’s name is being tied to a project intended to “celebrate” the history of the San Diego Padres (something sorely lacking at Petco Park).  jbox covered it at Gaslamp Ball, and you can read more about it over there.  Padres fans don’t seem to be the only ones who find the Padres’ line of reason to be bizarre…

If the Padres really appreciated the passion of their fans, they’d listen to what they have to say every now and then. Instead, the Padres have spent the last several years responding to any “passion” by telling us how much they appreciate it, blowing it off, and then attributing it to a “vocal minority” when they realize fans are actually passionate about something other than Slingshots With The Pad Squad (side note: This is where the “Vocal Minority” blog name comes from. It was tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at that. Sadly still relevant two CEOs later.).

This season has been a spectacular mess of PR gaffes; letting Andy Masur go, firing of long-time PA announcer Frank Anthony and subsequent protracted “audition” process, holding an unwinnable contest where fans could win season tickets by hitting a home run on one pitch, using Tony Gwynn’s statue as a prop during in-game infomercials while the man was on death’s doorstep (which annoyed us when we DIDN’T know he was about to pass away), using an entire broadcast to plug sales for the On-Deck suite seats, “Beergate”, drafting Johnny Manziel so they could get ten minutes on Sportscenter, etc. etc.

"Mr. Padre" (broadcast prop)

“Mr. Padre” (broadcast prop)

What Padres fans are passionate about is the team on the field. We’re passionate about the players who have shown pride playing for what isn’t exactly the most prestigious franchise in baseball. Our history is long, spans two professional leagues, and we’re passionate about ALL of its history. We’re also quite passionate about the Padres finally becoming a winner; that’s why most of us are cautiously (or perhaps not so cautiously) optimistic about the hiring of someone like AJ Preller. We’re also passionate about not having our intelligence insulted.

As I’d written about several times before, this new ownership group was coming into a situation where they had a perception problem that needed to be addressed. They were walking into a fractured relationship between San Diego Padres ownership and the team’s fans, and it needed special attention. Rightfully, the John Moores/Jeff Moorad fiasco created a situation where fans simply don’t trust Padres ownership. We’ve seen a series of steps forward (improved concessions, hiring what seems to be a promising General Manager with a plan) followed by several steps back (see above). It would be a great time to cultivate fan passion, as opposed to taking what’s left of it for granted.

I’ve cancelled MLB.tv, this newly out-of-town fan’s link back home. I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything, as you’re capable of making your own decisions. I need to take the rest of the season off. This year (or last several, really) has been exhausting, with the bad baseball and tonedeaf PR stunts. I’m not abandoning the Padres,  just creating some distance for a while. While Padres executives are busy appreciating passion, I’m going to spend the fall trying to find mine again.

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  • USMC53

    Good post.
    Is there a story re: “Slingshots with the Pad Squad”?

    • VM David

      Ha, not really. Just an example of fluff at ballgames to get people temporarily excited. Who doesn’t like free shirts?

  • Shaqapopolis

    Agree. I’ve checked out as well. Still check here and Gaslamp and briefly the UT, but mostly skim the game reviews. It just seems everything they do is short sited. I live in SF and watch the occasional Giants game. I’m trying to think other than a shot of the statues they have around the park, they don’t use them to sell anything. I know they have their pre-game set on the other side of the Willie Mays statue, but it’s not the focal point of the broadcast and is not actually seen on TV and the booth doesn’t prevent people from meeting at the base of the statue (which is a very popular thing to do). They seem to know that the statue is for the fans and not something for them to exploit. I’m sure when they get around to making a Hoffman statue they’ll mess that up and do it without his leg kick or something stupid.

  • Brandon Cline

    I’m not renewing my season tickets. I just can’t justify spending almost a paycheck on a business that really doesn’t respect and listen to its customers. I don’t want to cancel. I enjoy games at Petco Park (for the most part). But, they have not earned my repeated business. On field product is still a very large question mark. I was going to apply a wait and see approach before renewing to see if there was some modicum of a plan. I just seems like Michael Dee is a “my way, screw you” person. Well “my way” is saving $1,500.

  • Great article, David. Well said.

  • ballybunion

    The thing is, if there’s one thing the clueless front office knows, it’s that for most fans, the Selig crisis will blow over. I’m personally not upset at the actual naming, though it would have been better if they presented Selig on his last visit to Petco with the same thing the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz got: a testimonial. Somehow, giving Selig a Tin Man Testimonial in place of his missing heart seems most appropriate.