Month: June 2016

Dennis Lin – TKF Pod #55

This week the guys chat with the UT’s Dennis Lin. They discuss what it’s like covering the Padres up close on a daily basis and what lies ahead for the franchise this summer. WARNING: There is some Pete Rose HOF talk in the first few minutes. Sorry!

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TKF Pod #54: Craig Elsten

This week the guys sit down with Craig Elsten from Mighty 1090. They talk about Craig’s first year as the voice of the San Diego Gulls and dig deep into what having good hockey back in town means for the sports landscape of the city. Then they discuss the #FireMikeDee movement with the blogger Padres Jagoff, who set the campaign into motion.

Geoff Young piece mentioned in episode!

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TKF Pod #53: Scott Lewis

This week the guys have Scott Lewis, CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Voice of San Diego, on to announce the show is joining the Voice of San Diego Podcast Network! They talk about how Mayor Faulconer’s big win will inform his next move, the Chargers’ path to moving downtown, and if the new No Downtown Stadium-Jobs and Streets First committee will be effective with getting in the way. Then they talk about the #FireMikeDee blogger movement, open a pack of baseball cards, and discuss the recent MLB draft.

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Done With Dee

By Nicholas Burmeister AKA @padreshaiku

Dee is a mess and people want him fired. I understand that; I too would like someone else as CEO. I do, however, think he’s in an incredibly difficult position: he’s trying to squeeze every thin dime out of a bad baseball team. And fans hate him for that.

Fans don’t like that the cost of a ticket has jumped so much. Fans don’t like the cost of a beer going up, or a hot dog, or pork belly nachos. Fans didn’t like the field looking like garbage after a concert. And fans really didn’t like a portion of their stadium getting renamed after a former commissioner in order to thank him for an All-Star game. Fans don’t like that everything in their ballpark is getting branded, sponsored, chopped up, renamed, or moved in order to make every nook and cranny more profitable, more exclusive, and more expensive. But Dee doesn’t care about your opinion. He cares about money. Those unpopular moves all make money, at least theoretically. So Dee doesn’t care if the retired numbers get taken down; it’s about the money. He doesn’t care if you like brown; it’s about the money. He doesn’t care if a family of four can’t afford seats on the field level; it’s about the money. I could name more, but you get the idea. Dee’s bottom line is the bottom line, and if it sounds like he’s putting profits before fans.

Here’s your hot take if you think Dee should stay: I don’t blame Dee for trying to maximize profits, even if it pisses off some fans. If making a formerly open bar/seating area exclusive to platinum season ticket holders means the team can make more money, then so be it.

What I do fault Dee for is making mistakes that can’t be explained by a profit motive. There was nothing to be gained financially by replacing the Petco announcer a few years ago. And the team didn’t profit from his kneejerk decision to fire DJ Artform. Instead, he made the organization look foolish by switching his position multiple times — first claiming the incident was a simple mistake and not a homophobic act, then firing the DJ anyway, and then eventually reinstating him.

I suspect that Dee’s profit-based decisions have had some success. I haven’t seen the books, of course, but Forbes puts team revenue at $244MM in 2016, that’s up from a projected $224 MM last year. Sadly, if there has been a bump in revenue over the past couple years, it can easily be attributed to the unbridled off-season optimism of 2015 and the All-Star game, both of which are temporary cash injections without long term security. Forbes also puts the value of the team at $890MM, which is no change from last year. Zero growth is troubling.

That isn’t entirely Dee’s fault, though. The real problem is that the best way to make money is to have a good team, and this team just isn’t good. Dee has tried to hide this, doing his best to sell the idea of a scrappy, over-performing, competitive team. I get it – he can’t sell tickets by admitting he has a shitty team. He can’t talk about contending or brag about his players’ stats. (And he can’t go on record saying that the team is tanking for draft position, even if that’s what they’re doing.) But Dee’s attempts to put on a cheery face aren’t fooling anybody, and he likely knows it.

That’s why he has focused so much on improving ballpark experience. It’s really his only move. Dee is wants fans to divorce the notion of having a good time at the ball game from having a winning team. If we can’t make the playoffs, we can at least have a giant HD video board. But although many of the improvements are nice, how much do they really increase attendance? How many more people are buying tickets in order to see the giant Dave Winfield mural on the wall? In the end, all this is just a top hat on a turd. We don’t need fancy digs; we need a winning squad. Padre fans would pack a dilapidated pile of rubble – or, worse yet, the Oakland Coliseum — if the team was in contention.

But here’s my biggest issue with him: in order to get a better team, Dee has tried to involve himself in player acquisition. And that’s a huge misstep. He’s not an on-field guy; he’s an off-field guy. He has no business meddling with the roster. It’s like the manager of Qualcomm Stadium trying to write Beyonce’s set list or choreograph her routines. Dee needs to let go of that pronto. Let the baseball people handle the baseball stuff and stay in your lane, Mike.

Despite all this, Dee is not going to get fired this year, at least not before the All-Star game. It’s his baby and booting him before the mid-summer classic would be a bigger mistake than hiring him in the first place. But, god willing, he won’t last beyond this season.

Still, even with all his flaws, his termination will be frustrating because what the organization needs is stability. Ownership and coaching fluctuations have had a toll on the team, the fans, and the relationship between the two. A few years of consistent voices from the front office, clubhouse and ownership box will go a long way to fix that relationship. Hopefully, we can start that consistency next year, with Dee’s replacement.

 

Follow Nicholas Burmeister on Twitter @padreshaiku

 

TKF Pod #52: Johnny Bolt Pride & Jason Riggs

On the eve of the primary election Dallas, Travis and Nick talked about the James Shields trade. Then they had a great discussion with Jason Riggs and Johnny Abundez about the Save Our Bolts movement.

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‘Big Game’ Over

Big Game James is gone, and that is totally fine. In fact it’s more than fine. The fans were over whatever it was that Shields brought to the table, and it certainly seemed like Shields couldn’t wait to get out of the mess at PETCO. However, it was the way it finally happened that didn’t make a ton of sense to most of us. Sure, Shields was making a lot of money, but he was rarely thee guy fans pointed to as “the problem”, and that in some weird way was “the problem”. Ron Fowler would disagree with this statement, as he clearly had enough of Shields pissing off managers, and not living up to the contract Fowler himself gave; if that is the reason Shields was finally moved we have a few things to figure out.

Back in 2011 I traded for James Shields down the stretch in fantasy Baseball. He was still slinging for Tampa trying to get out from under the shadow of Bret Saberhagen, and was in the midst of his best season in the majors. His arm did in fact get me into the playoffs however; I did not make it out of the first round. (A not so interesting side note: A week after I made that trade, I dropped Bryce Harper for Francisco Liriano.)

The next year, I couldn’t keep Shields and our relationship ended, until 2015, when he became a Padre. It was a strange signing for everyone involved. Most Padres fans weren’t even that excited about it, they were just more surprised. Shields should’ve gone to the Cubs, but didn’t. He should have gone to the Dodgers, but they passed on his price tag. He should have stayed in Kansas City, but they didn’t really have interest. It seemed like everyone knew what we also knew, but didn’t want to admit – Shields’ best days were behind him, and as we quickly learned Shields is also unable to admit that.

From his very first start with the Padres, things didn’t seem right. Something was off. Perhaps it was just his age catching up to him, or maybe he didn’t have the same desire to pitch in San Diego, or its very possible that he just hated pitching for Bud Black and Darren Balsley. Whatever the problem actually was, Shields definitely wanted to own it without owning it at all. And, that kind of sums up the twilight of Big Game’s career: He wants to be the guy, but he just isn’t.

“The guy” the media focused on, and went to for comments, and he seemed to want that really badly from day one. He seems like a nice guy, a good guy, and genuinely wants the best for every team he’s on, but James Shields wanted to be the face of a franchise for the first time, and picked the exact wrong time to try. In Tampa Shields was overshadowed by guys like Longoria, and Price, the on-going struggles of Melvin Upton, and of course Joe Maddon (Which, is a situation he’d once again avoid by never settling with the Cubs.). He then moved to Kansas City, where it looked like he’d be the headline, but Sal Perez, Ventura, Moustakas, and Cain quickly made him “one of the guys”, and he never stood out. Finally, he was heading to little ‘ol San Diego where he could be thee number one guy for a fledging franchise. He’d be looked at as a savior, the leader, and of course the guy who liked to ‘mix it up’ in the clubhouse. Then two things happened:

1) His contract. He should’ve signed for less. And, I say this purely for his future. He knew once he signed that deal, he had to live up to it. However, his career was at a point where he needed to prove he still “had it”, instead of what he did do, which was pretending he never lost it. And, don’t get me wrong I think James Shields is a very good pitcher, and for a long stretch a great pitcher, but at 33 you’re going to start to see some declining features and that is okay. I’m fine with that, I’m just not fine with paying him a lot of money to pretend to be an ace, and that’s what he did, and everyone but Shields seem to understand this.

2) The 2015 season. Not only was 2015 more disappointing than normal because for the first time in a long time we had a team, that on paper, was a contender. Not World Series champions, but contenders. But, once again Shields couldn’t be “the guy”, he was surrounded by Kemp, Upton, Kimbrel, and even Myers. What he appeared to desperately want, was once again unattainable.

Shields tried to make waves by calling out Bud Black, and was the catalyst for that firing, but new skipper Andy Green laid down the law fairly quickly by naming Ross the ace of the 2016 staff. This time it was Shields who was being called out. He finally got to be “thee guy”, but for all the wrong reasons.

Now, he’s a member of the White Sox, and it’s a great move. Not just for the Padres, who rid themselves of a 34-year old “innings guy” that is just that and only that, but they also get some spare change to go after some young talent. However, it’s also exactly what Shields needs. He’s going to a team that has an ace, plus a lefty who could be the ace on a few other teams (Padres included) and a young stud pitcher who isn’t going anywhere. Shields is put into a rotation that really doesn’t need him, and will look to him for a serviceable 6-7 innings a start and that’s it. If they get more – then that’s a plus! He can’t be “the guy”, and he can’t be “the headline”, and he has to know this going in. He is now a pitcher in his mid-30’s and he can finally begin to come to grips with that.

The final piece of this weird personnel puzzle is Ron Fowler. Fowler pulled a stunt San Diego hasn’t seen since Kroc got on the PA and apologized to fans for how bad his team was. Fowler did something that is an everyday occurrence in sports markets like Boston or Chicago, but not here. We actually need big names (bigger than James) to come to San Diego. We need players to want to come play for Fowler, and Dee, and whoever else. We as fans can’t really afford to let the owner go nuts and call out players, because after a short while, no players will want to play for them. I’m sure Fowler is beyond frustrated, but at the end of the day he said yes to all of this. He gave his million-dollar stamp of approval. He hired the miserable failures. And, it doesn’t matter who he’s referencing as a failure because he hired the guy who hired the other guys, who then hired more people. He is the catalyst for how his franchise will continue to operate, and right now he’s acting like an asshole. But, it’s his team, and he can do whatever he wants. The crazy thing is, I agree with him! He’s right. He just can’t expect to attract top tier talent, while being an asshole.

This organization is being run so poorly that I don’t blame Big Game James for taking shots, calling out his bosses, or Matt Kemp for recently reacting the way he has. It’s making a lot of fans throw their hands in the air, and legitimately not care. The team keeps saying “building” instead of “re-building”, which is basically saying you’re “washing” dishes instead of “cleaning” dishes. When things like this happen it makes a lot people wonder if anyone over there at Friar HQ knows what they’re doing. They seem more interested in creating craft beer nights than scoring runs. Creating social media memes than winning games, and giving fans free fedoras than a relevant product. And, again they can do whatever they want, it’s their team, but once the downtown stadium is built and the Chargers season starts, it’s the Padres that will have to once again compete for fans. So, give away as many fedoras and Dick Enberg themed flash drives as you want, but soon there might not be any fans left to give them to.

For more sports ‘knowledge’ and other ‘stuff’ follow @dallas_mc

TKF Pod #51: FM 94/9’s Woods

This week Nick and Dallas sit down with FM94/9’s Woods! Woods can’t help but talk Yankees right off the bat, Nick dares him to hate on Andy Keatts, and they all agree the Padres are headed down a dark path. Woods gives us his thoughts on the Padres radio switch, the state of local radio, and why not everyone can do it – but they think they can.

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