Did Mike Dee Do It?

As the 2016 season gets off to an ignominious start, fans are ready to jump off of a bridge already. While the historic failures of the Padres offense through the first series have been embarrassing, disappointing, and harken back to the days of Bud Black and his penchant for slow starts, local media is sure to excuse the ownership group and upper management. Instead they lay blame on new manager Andy Green or general manager AJ Preller. They love to point out that ownership “held up their end of the bargain” by repeating over and over that the teams has a HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR PAYROLL (their emphasis, not mine). The thing is, $100M payrolls only put the Padres at #19 in payroll. The other thing is, payroll decreased after franchise record revenues in 2015. But this post isn’t about payroll. That’s a systemic problem that likely isn’t changing anytime soon. The public payroll perception of a “big payroll” spread by the media is merely an example of the deference shown to Mike Dee and his executive team. The other oft stated opinion is that “Hey look AJ is doing a terrible job with baseball ops, but you can’t blame Mike Dee and Wayne Partello. Just walk around the concourse and check out Phil’s BBQ and Hodad’s and all the great stuff they’ve done on the business side”. While yes, the gameday experience is much improved in the past few years, the myth is that Mike Dee is responsible for that (this is aside from discussing Mike Dee’s many, MANY failures on the business side regarding vendor management, season ticket holder customer service, marketing failures, security line planning, etc.). This post will attempt to clearly delineate what Mike Dee should get credit for, and what his predecessor, Tom Garfinkel, should get credit for. Let’s get started with some common items that I’ve heard attributed to Dee:
Brought Phil’s BBQ to Petco Park

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel brought Phil’s BBQ into Petco for the 2013 season

Brought Hodad’s into Petco Park

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel brought Hodad’s into Petco for the 2013 season. Unheard of during the Dee era, Garfinkel actually solicited social media for what they’d most like to see at Petco with Hodad’s as the most popular respose.

Brought Ballast Point and Sculpin to Petco Park

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel brought in Sculpin in 2012. He also opened the Ballast Point Deck in 2013 with expanded Ballast Point offerings throughout the park.

Brought Bull Taco into Petco Park

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel replaced the sushi restaurant with Cardiff’s Bull Taco. This was short lived, as they were only around offering lobster, bacon and chorizo tacos for 2013. They left before Dee’s first season.

Started the craft beer program at Petco Park

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel brought in Karl Strauss, Green Flash, Manzanita and others in 2012 at the Home Plate Craft Beer plaza. He also opened the Craft Beer of San Diego stands offering bottles and bombers of local craft beer. Garfinkel expanded the selection in 2013 to include more local breweries, including Alesmith Speedway Stout.

Distributed Padres uniforms to local Little League

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel spearheaded and executed the effort to outfit local Little Leagues in a variety of San Diego Padres uniforms.

Started formal social media outreach with Social Summits

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel held a Social Summit in 2012 with the blogging community. In 2013, he held a larger one at the Jack Deck which he opened up to anyone that followed on Twitter and bought a ticket. Dee has continued the Social Summits but has staff handpick attendees to relay the messaging from the Summit.

Canceled Breakfast at the Park

Who did it: Mike Dee

Commentary: Part of Garfinkel’s Breakfasttown initiative, it offered a breakfast buffet on the field during Sunday warmups for a surprisingly reasonable $15.00. Dee canceled it immediately as part of his De-Garfinkelization plan.

Started Padres membership program

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel’s biggest initiative was the conversion of season tickets into “membership” with events, member teleconferences, flexible ticket trading, and devoted membership reps. This has been slowly dismantled by the Dee regime over the past two years.

Sign lucrative $1.2B Fox Sports San Diego television deal

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel ended the Cox exclusive 4SD telecast and signed a $1.2B deal with Fox Sports San Diego and retained 20% team ownership of FSSD in 2012.  This was signed at an opportune time as Garf rode the crest of the regional sports network bubble. To Dee’s credit, it was under his stewardship that FSSD settled with Time Warner for carriage locally.

 

Overseen a winning Padres season

Who did it: Tom Garfinkel

Commentary: Garfinkel was the Chief Operating Officer and President in 2010 when the Padres won 90 games. Dee has overseen three losing seasons.
The best part of this post is the gear grinding  potential with Marver who still ignores everything good Garf did for customers and ballpark experience. I’ll also note that Garf was willing to meet in person with his biggest critic, Marver.  Garf wasn’t declining interviews to “protect his brand” like some other front office executives I know.

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