Well, that was short-lived.
Today, after much speculation, UT reporter Dennis Lin confirmed that the Padres pre-game show known as Padres Social Hour will cease to exist.
Padres Social Hour first came to be back in 2014, debuting with a Jesse Agler in-person interview with Mike Dee and Ron Fowler just before the beginning of the regular season. In an omen for what was to come, Mike Dee used the opportunity to talk about ballpark improvements and bullish prognostications:
“I think we’re going to have more good times at Petco Park this season with this team than not.”
Ultimately, Padres Social Hour didn’t succeed because it didn’t fill a market need. No one wanted more team-friendly content fed to them. Prior to the Padres announcing their intention to leave the Mighty 1090, there was basically one sports station in San Diego – and it was in an explicit partnership with the team. Interviews were dictated to the station, with the softest interviewers garnering the best interviewees. The lead writer for the only local print paper consistently shills for the front office and team executives, like he did here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Basically, no one wanted any of this shit and they tried to feed it to us anyway. The idea of a televised Padres pre-game show was great, but the state-run execution rendered it as moot as a mature foot fetish fluffer; if you’ve committed to the mature foot fetish, you probably don’t need to be fluffed. It’s your thing. The Padres are our thing.
The only appetite for Padres coverage that existed when the Padres brought Padres Social Hour to market was the yearning for alternative voices. Nothing confirmed this in a more resounding fashion than the day the documentary dropped, where tens of thousand of Padres fans watched the documentary with close to two thousand joining the Facebook movement. Fast forward a few years and you now have a handful of choices. Padres Public and Gwynntelligence regularly post independent opinion pieces with a consistent, sizable audience. There are literally a half-dozen Padres podcasts to choose from. Gone are the days where your sole sources of Padres discourse were either The Garfinkel Diaries or the SDUT forum.
Given that backdrop, it’s somewhat incredible that both of its hosts, without any San Diego background, were able to endear themselves to Padres fans. (Granted, performance reviews must be pretty fucking sweet when your peer group is Bill Center, Nick Crayonepa, and that dude who makes pancakes.) While we’ll get to keep Jesse Agler until he rightfully asks for a raise and ends up Vasgersian-ing to greener pastures, it’s a bummer that the Padres wasted the relatable Janela as a vehicle for dinosaurs to fill our ears with debunked statistics and front office talking points.
Another factor that certainly didn’t help was the madness of the Padres scheduled start times over the past few years. I had season tickets in 2015 and never figured it out, and this past season was even worse. It’s hard to optimize ratings when your audience has no feel for when the game will start. And if the pre-game show isn’t leading you into the game with consistent rhythm, it’s less likely to lure viewers and achieve its primary goal.
I mean, look at the September 2016 home start times:
The Padres had seven straight home games early in the month spread over five different start times, with no continuity on consecutive days. They ended the season with a ten game home-stand that also featured five unique start times.
How the fuck is anyone supposed to regularly tune in at the right time or make the pre-game show part of their regular routine? It’s impossible.
This was a business logistics issue, not unlike a lot of other business issues the Padres have displayed over the years.
In memoriam, the failure of Padres Social Hour wasn’t a failure of Mike Janela or Jesse Agler. It was a failure to recognize that Padres fans wanted less, not more, team-sponsored content. Hopefully the guys who helped ring it in – Mike Dee and Ron Fowler – will ride into the sunset along with the failed program.