Yesterday on Twitter, the Padres cancellation of a scheduled bobblehead giveaway became the topic du jour:
@RJsFro ummm have you looked at the Padres promo sched today? 9/20 is now Post Game OAR Concert. Bobblehead gone.
— Tim Stoops (@timmer82) August 12, 2014
The Padres did, however, break the news the previous day. Okay, so it was buried in an article regarding the addition of the O.A.R. Concert. Perhaps the term ‘addition’ was unwarranted, but the news was indeed in that article.
The concert, which will begin approximately 30 minutes postgame, will be the first time these two local institutions have worked together on a promotion. It will replace a bobblehead giveaway that had been scheduled for September 20.
Of course, this begs the question:
In the absence of a concert to “replace” the bobblehead, this has all the makings of a classic Padres bait-and-switch. I mean, evil-Garf-in-his-prime bait-and-switch; the only thing missing is the old crazy market excuse:
The market for bobbleheads this year was just insane. Over $4.50 per piece with a guarantee of at least ten thousand pieces? No thanks, market!
Really, though, it has all the makings: you announce a mystery player who you think is likely to not be on the roster after the trade deadline, and schedule the bobblehead for a September Marlins game where a tough draw gets an attendance boost.
Except A really isn’t entirely a valid excuse anyway.
September 20th, the date of the bobblehead giveaway, is 7+ weeks following the July 31st trade deadline. Even if the Padres didn’t know until that exact day that the proposed bobblehead – Huston Street or Chase Headley? – was getting dealt, that is still enough time to get a new bobblehead to the fan by September 20th, according to one MLB front office executive:
We give the player’s name, photos, and a general idea of what we want out of the bobble. A week later we get a computer model of the bobble. This is almost always approved but is sometimes modified. In one case we bypassed this step. We then receive a mold in a week or two. Once this is okayed, production begins and payment is authorized. (There is a cost up front for most, but we use the same company consistently. This cost is waived.) Delivery can occur in 20-30 days for a rush order, but we have these made in advance. Slower, cheaper delivery service take two months.
I hate using anonymous sources (but I hate losing the few ones I have even more), so I’ll just point you to a few large-scale bobblehead producers who basically corroborate the same process.
From Bobblefactory.com’s FAQ:
Q: How long does it take to make a bobble?
A rule of thumb is 90-120 days depending on the level of complexity. In some cases we must start with an artistic sketch of the proposed bobble (one week), other times we’re able to work from your photographs. Once the pose is determined, we make a mold of your bobble (7-14 days). Upon completion of the mold, we send you a sample for final approval (1 week). After you approve your sample, we begin production. Depending on the quantity ordered and detail involved, production and delivery to your destination is approximately 60 days (includes production time and ocean freight) from sample approval.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that Major League Baseball teams are “high priority” purchasers who may circumvent the 90-120 day timeline above, which also includes non-bulk purchasers, but that at least does call into question whether or not a new bobblehead could have been completed in-time for September 20.
Maybe the Padres just didn’t want to deal with the potentialities of missing the bobblehead deadline, like the Yankees did last year.
O.A.R. or a bobblehead
It is nice the the Padres have indeed replaced the bobblehead with something. I think the concert and bobblehead are roughly equivalent values, but they attract vastly different audiences (in my opinion) and are entirely different conceptually: one is a tangible object while the other is an experience.
As that same Tim Stoops, an Ohioan, put it:
@WaynePartello appreciate the response, and yes, that does help. Now, advice on how my parents are supposed to ship me a concert??
— Tim Stoops (@timmer82) August 13, 2014
It’s also a little worrisome that the Padres stand to make extra money here by selling VIP packages to the concert. I don’t want to fault the team for making additional money, but I do find it distasteful that they get yet another round of milking Padres fans on the back of a September 20 giveaway.
According to Wayne Partello, though, this isn’t the only thing making up for the cancelled bobblehead. Per direct message on Twitter:
Once it was decided that we needed to cancel, We [sic] added the concert and have a few other ideas to make the night great.
I’m looking forward to hearing what else they do.
Was this a malicious attempt to prop September attendance by offering a mystery bobblehead that the team never intended to issue? It very likely wasn’t, although that can’t be entirely dismissed.
This was, however, poor planning by the Padres. They could have either chosen a player who was very likely to be on the team September 20th – Jedd Gyorko or Andrew Cashner, for example – or simply had a backup player whose design and mold were ready to go on August 1st, which would leave enough time for production and delivery. Let alone scheduling the giveaway for early in the season instead of using it solely as a late season gimmick against the Marlins. (Whatever happened to specifically catering to your fans?)
At the very least, though, fans who bought tickets specifically for the bobblehead should either be afforded a refund if they aren’t satisfied with the concert or the opportunity to swap the ticket for an alternate date. Forcing a bobblehead collector to watch a September match between the Marlins and Padres shouldn’t end with the collector empty-handed.