Like most people who read The 5.5 Hole, I’m passionate about Padres baseball. And like most people who are passionate about Padres baseball, I have strong opinions in regards to the organization. This is due to the team’s ups, downs, and the overall inconsistent nature that fans have grown accustomed to over the years. With that said, I’d like to think that with the current ownership group, things are stabilizing. However, you can never tell with this team; and due to this, fans have the right to be apprehensive, bitter and opinionated.
For the most part, I trust the current direction of the organization and believe that A.J. Preller is creative and bright enough to put together an on-field product that’s up to par with the growing expectations of the team. I’m just telling myself to be patient; even though I’m not sure what I’m being patient for, as fans are largely being left in the dark in regards to the team’s direction this offseason. Still, I back the “In Preller We Trust” frame of mind. However, what I don’t have patience for are a handful of things that are not relevant to A.J. Preller’s job and the on-field product. I’m talking marketing, branding, public relations, fan experience and whatnot. I often find myself thinking what I’d do if I was in Mike Dee, Ron Fowler or Wayne Partello’s shoes.
These seem like no-brainers to me, but then again, many things related to San Diego sports that you’d assume are no-brainers, often go out the window. Also, I’m aware that I should have finished this post ages ago, as some of these issues are starting to slowly change. With that said, here are 5 things I’d change if I “ran” the Padres.
1. Bring Back The Brown
A couple months back, when I first started writing this post, I knew this would be first on the list. Yes, a team’s uniform does not matter all that much, but you can’t deny that it does reflect identity and tradition and we all know that the Padres have had little to no identity since the turn of the millennium. Yes, they’ve been better in recent years with throwback days, and the way they pushed the “Way Back Wednesdays” in 2015 was respectable, but in the end, it’s all been nothing but teases.
When the Padres introduced the new brown & yellow uniform last month, it was bittersweet, due to it being an alternate just to be worn on Friday home games. I do believe that it’s a step in the right direction and that the blue & yellow All-Star color scheme isn’t as bad as the blue & white we’ve had shoved down our throats for years. Let’s hope that it was a good sign when Mike Dee said they considered making brown their primary color scheme in 2016 and that they will look back into this matter after the season. If you read between the lines, I think it’s apparent this is the beginning of brown becoming the primary team color. I just assume that this is how they chose to start the process.
With all that said, two things have crossed my mind in regards to the 2016 uniforms:
- Why would the team leave the road uniforms untouched?? Seriously, if you’re going to move in a different direction in terms of branding, then why not introduce either brown or yellow to the road uniforms as well. The road uniforms are so incredibly bland as is, so why not spice them up with some accents to get the changes moving across the board? Sometimes, I honestly think the Padres are afraid to put themselves out there. I believe they are comparable to a shy kid who chooses to sit in the back of class and never raises his/her hand in fear of the unwanted attention.
- With all the complaining I do and continue to do in regards to this matter, I have to give the organization props for the new brown & yellow alternates. This uniform is what I wanted, and while it may not be perfect (That honor would go to John Brubaker’s mockups), they still fulfill something that I’ve been craving for years. I’ll definitely be buying the cap.
2. Padres Of The Past
This one ties directly into the above-mentioned topic of bringing back the brown, but it also warrants its own section. With that said, I don’t think it can be denied that Petco Park is an incredible place to actually watch a baseball game. Baseball fans in San Diego are quite lucky to have such a great venue in their backyard. I don’t live in San Diego, but I make it a point to go there often and I’m always amazed at how great Petco Park is. With that said, I feel that something seems to be missing while walking around Petco.
If you’ve been to Citi Field in New York, they have the Mets museum and a lot of Jackie Robinson/Brooklyn Dodgers items/information on display. If you’ve been to AT&T, the whole ballpark is a nod to the history of the Giants. Even the Coliseum in Oakland, which is an old multi-purpose stadium, it’s hard to not run into something on display which reflects the history of the A’s and baseball in the East Bay. In my opinion, Petco Park has not been utilized correctly and for the most part, these things are missing.
Yes, we have Jerry and Tony’s statues and the retired numbers on display (which are being moved for some silly reason); but everything else is few and far between. You have to venture to areas not always easily accessible or well-known to find display cases and anything else that reflects the history of baseball in San Diego. Hell, I even remember on two different occasions when Petco employees had no idea where to find what I was looking for. This is all unfortunate and I’ve always felt unfulfilled while visiting Petco Park.
What I’ve always desired in Petco is an actual Padres Hall of Fame and more images/plaques/representation for individuals that are important to the team’s history. Also, while it may be a stretch for some, I’d love more nods to the Pacific Coast League Padres. San Diego has never won a World Series, but there’s a rich history of baseball here that some people know little to nothing about, and until recently, the organization has done very little to rectify this.
If the organization got creative, they could do some really cool things. For starts, how about retiring a new number such as Jerry’s #2 or Colbert’s #17? How about something that recognizes the years of service that guys like Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery put in with the Padres? Whether you wanna admit it or not, these guys are important to the history of the team. Alternately, they can go the PCL route and build a Ted Williams statue to reflect the decades of Padres baseball in San Diego prior to 1969. Or they could simply just name more areas around Petco Park after Padres of the past or things relevant to San Diego baseball? These are just random ideas off the top of my head, but really, it wouldn’t be difficult to make this stadium ALL about the Padres.
Along with bringing back the brown, Benito Santiago and Garry Templeton being elected to the team Hall of Fame in 2015 and the recent news that the Padres are finally building an actual Hall of Fame at Petco Park in 2016, I think things are going in the right direction. My question though, is why now and not years ago? I get that ownership issues have plagued the team and things are only now stabilizing, but this is not an excuse. Really, all this should have been done in the early days of Petco Park, or even before it opened. With all this said, I look forward to the continued changes at Petco Park and I tip my cap to Dee and company for making them happen. Let’s just hope they’re not done in a half-assed manner.
3. Minimize Obsession With The Military
I’m aware that this may be controversial and polarizing to some, but I can’t help but voice my displeasure with it. In the 2000s, when the team started wearing camo uniforms, I thought they were irrelevant and forced, but I assumed they would disappear as the novelty wore off. Boy, was I wrong. Since 2007, the Padres have worn military alternate uniforms during Sunday home games and this isn’t going to change anytime soon, especially with the release of the Navy camo uniforms for 2016. If I ran the Padres, I’d put a stop to these ASAP.
I get it, I really do. San Diego is a military town, and even though I have many issues with the military and I’m firm in my political stance of anti-war, I believe the troops deserve additional support here at home. However, dressing up the hometown baseball team in uniforms that are associated with war and violence is NOT the way to go. Let the troops into games at a discounted rate or even free and keep the organization involved with military related-charities and whatnot, but for god’s sake, don’t dress up Major League Baseball players as soldiers and throw them on the field to play a game. It’s silly, embarrassing and frankly, one day I believe people will look back at this trend and shake their heads in shame.
The Padres are to blame for the rise of camo in baseball and now it’s spreading through the league like wildfire. People need take a step back and realize what they’re doing when they support camouflage in baseball. In war and conflict, camouflage is used to give an upper hand on the battlefield and that means violence and lives lost. I want this association out of the game and I’d like baseball to find more creative ways to support the troops.
4. Stadium Giveaways
Stadium giveaways may be an arbitrary thing to complain about, but I think the Padres have done a poor job in regards to this. With the exception of the Padres themed Knockaround sunglasses of the last few years and the Santiago/Templeton throwback jerseys last season, most of the SGAs in the last half-decade or so have been incredibly lackluster. You may disagree with me on this and you may be a fan of some of the stuff they’ve given out, but I think they’ve been generic, stale and certainly don’t add an extra incentive to going to Padres games.
SGAs are largely meant to entice fans to come to games they’d normally not go to. This often means weekday games, in-division games against opponents they play often and games against teams that have little to no fan base in the area (i.e. when less people are in the seats). I may not live in San Diego, but when I do visit, I always book my trips when the team is in town and I always look and see if there’s a decent SGA. More often than not, the SGA is something I just end up tossing in the trash or say “no thank you” to as I enter the stadium.
My personal favorite SGA is the bobblehead, so naturally, I’m going to whine about this a little. If you take out Tony Hawk’s bobblehead in 2011 and the canceled Denorfia bobblehead in 2014, the Padres have had only two player bobblehead giveaways in the last half-decade (Bud Black in 2011 and Chase Headley in 2013). With that said, I still think it was lame giving Headley the 2013 bobblehead, as he was present in the 2010 set, which included 5 players. I LOVED those SGAs. They may not have been “star” players, but they were fun and I feel like everyone I knew was into them.
Up here in San Francisco and Oakland, bobblehead giveaways are BIG events. People literally wait in lines for hours to get their hands on them. I think this can be the case in San Diego as well if they did the right bobbleheads and did them often. Honestly, I think regularity is the key to get people stoked on them, as people tend to want complete sets of things such as SGAs. Yes, many of us have all heard the old “Bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego” rebuttal against this, but as RJ’s Fro proved in 2013, this is a load of crap and he put together the numbers to back it up.
With all this said, the Padres need to be more creative with their SGAs and whether they include bobbleheads or not, they should have fun with them. SGAs can tie directly in with paying respect to Padres of the past, or reflect Padres of the present, as long as they are creative and are not afraid to get a tad absurd with them. Hell, if you look at the A’s, they are planning a Metallica- themed Sean Doolittle bearded garden gnome in 2016. Something like this can totally go over well in San Diego, solely based on how weird and funny it is. You can never go wrong with anything related to Gwynn, Coleman, Hoffman, etc. And whether you’re a fan or not, Kemp and Myers are not going anywhere and are sure to put butts in seats in 2016, so why not do something related to them? Hell, they don’t have to be player oriented either, as the team can get creative with something related to the 2016 All-Star game. Anyways, you get the picture, get creative and have fun and people will recognize this and embrace SGAs.
Again, I tip my cap to the Padres due to how awesome last year’s Santiago/Templeton giveaway jerseys were, but for the most part, good SGAs that actually put people in the seats are few and far between in San Diego. Until I see the promo schedule for this upcoming season, I’m going to stay critical, especially if I see another beach towel or fedora giveaway.
5. Bud Selig Hall Of Fame Plaza
In all the years that I’ve been a Padres fan, I’ve seen many highs and lows. If I’m being honest, I’d say there have been more lows and than highs, and that’s by a longshot. With that said, I can’t say that I’ve ever been actually embarrassed to be a Padres fan until August of 2014, when the team announced that they’d be naming a section of the Western Metal Supply Building after Commissioner Bud Selig. To make matters worse, I believe this is where the team’s Hall of Fame will be, which is scheduled to open by the All-Star Game this July.
When I first heard about this, I laughed because I thought there was NO way it was true, as it was so absurd and borderline offensive. I was very wrong and judging by the public backlash of everyone I interacted with and from what I read online, I was FAR from the only one who felt this way. Honestly, I wanted to crawl into a hole and not think of Padres baseball, as this seemed to be the icing on the cake of another disappointing season. I was seriously embarrassed when friends, family or coworkers wanted to discuss it and it still makes me cringe when I think about it.
To make matters even worse, Mike Dee’s response to the public backlash was ridiculous and I hate to say it, but he was tone deaf in regards to this issue. There is NO way that Bud Selig saved baseball in San Diego, and if he did have his hand in the matter, he was not important enough to the process to warrant an area in Petco to be named after him. After this all went down, I remember Dee going on Padres Social Hour to discuss the naming of the plaza and the way he came off was incredibly off-putting. For the majority of people who support this organization through thick and thin, it was incredibly frustrating.
I think it goes without saying that if I ran the Padres, I’d put a stop to this as soon as possible and erase it from the history of the organization. Not long ago, I heard that the area to be named after Selig may be moved or minimized, but until I see something official that backs this up, I’m assuming Selig Hall of Fame Plaza is still happening. I’m not one for vandalizing property, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind seeing something vandalized in Petco Park that has Selig’s name attached to it.