Padres Social Hour has been the singularly successful move during the Mike Dee era. It has been entertaining enough, captivating enough, and produced well enough that you forget that it is team owned propaganda. That’s the big difference between Social Hour and Chargers.com, for instance. With Jesse Agler appearing daily during the season, he is a welcome member of our households. Well, the times are a changin’. Jesse has been promoted to radio play by play, and the Padres have FINALLY announced a new host.
I decided to head over to Petco Park today during lunch and check it out. After all, the illustrious Jbox from gaslampball.com had baited his numerous fans into thinking he, the king himself, would be in attendance. Imagine my sadness when I walked in to see only attendees with healthy backs. Jodes from Gaslamp Ball was there and we exchanged pleasantries. I need to stay on her good side because she is the only one to actually know where Jagoff Manor is located due to a little exchange of the Traveling Jersey (TM). Padres Social Hour was underway and imagine my excitement to see Ted Leitner on the couch as a guest. Long story short, Agler pulled a switcheroo, brought Mike Grace out as a guest, AND THEN INTRODUCED THE NEXT HOST. After my heartrate got back down to a normal rate, Jesse introduced Mike Janela. After the crowd of three said “Who?!?!” and then Jodes scooped me on the Tweeter, we all got a short video call introduction.
Using my crack journalism skills, I dug into Mike’s past on the Google Machine. The first super interesting thing about him is that he was semi-Internet famous due to being physically threatened by former Mets 2B Wally Backman while announcing in the lowest levels of the minor leagues. Jeff Pearlman detailed the incident:
It was only 25 minutes earlier when Backman charged the field to defend a player who had been ejected for arguing balls and strikes during the Anderson Joes’ 6-5 triumph over the Peanuts. Upon being kicked out of the game himself, Backman dropped a rainbow of curses on home-plate umpire Tom Height, then returned to his dugout to grab 22 bats, all of which he tossed onto the field. To cap things off, Backman emptied a bucket of baseballs down the third-base line. “It was a little silly,” says Scott Adamson, who covered the game for the Anderson Independent-Mail. “But to be honest, he put on a pretty darn good show. It was 130 degrees and the baseball was bad. Wally’s outburst was the only entertainment we had.”
Had that been the end of it — an amusing-yet-forgettable tantrum — life would have lazily moved on. Yet as soon as the game concluded, Backman did what, well, Backman does. He stormed into the press box to confront Mike Janela, the Joes’ radio announcer, who, during the outburst, questioned Backman’s professionalism and lambasted him as “an embarrassment.”
“Mike,” Backman said, according to witnesses, “if you ever call me an embarrassment again, I will kick your f—— ass!”
“But Wally,” Janela said, “22 bats …”
“I don’t care if it was 100 f—— bats!” Backman said. “If you do that one more time I will shove your mike up your ass!”
Within hours, word of the incident spread across the Internet and, consequently, the baseball universe. That Backman had tossed some bats and balls was not the issue. Heck, it was vintage Piniella. No, what caught the attention of many was the inanity of it all — Janela is a 22-year-old recent college graduate who lives at home with his parents. There were, at most, 500 people listening to the Joes-Peanuts clash.
He also got to travel the world as a Guiness Book of World Records judge. Looks like the past couple years he has been producing and hosting little tidbit videos that get posted to Facebook or spread virally. He does have experience with baseball, doing play by play for the Hickory Crawdads, the Cape league, and some baseball in Alaska. Also, per Twitter, he has attended a Padres game!
It looks like Mike wiped his social media presence clean before the announcement of his new position with his Twitter starting as a new account, and his blogspot blog, mikejanela.blogspot.com, deleted. It looks like all that social media training by the Padres is really paying off!
While I’m sad that the #Everyman Jesse Agler has moved on, I’m ready to welcome Mike Janela to the party. I’m really looking forward to see if he chooses to just ignore my Tweets on PadresSH, or if Jesse has instructed him to refer to me as “A Big Fan”.