I know many fans are sometimes embarrassed and humiliated when Padres owner Ron Fowler speaks publicly. After all, he directly damaged the value immediately prior to essentially forcing a trade of James Shields. He has little to no filter. His appearances on Dan Sileo for #PadresWednesday were always great fodder for quotes. Personally, I like having someone in the front office that we can get some semblance of the truth out of, considering literally every other single person that speaks to the media talks in platitudes, generalities and canned lines; Mike Dee was a master of this. Well luckily for us Fowlerphiles, he did a long form interview with Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts of Voice of San Diego, covering a wide array of topics ranging from homelessness to uniforms. Here are some choice quotes I recorded.
On Measure C: “We did not support it”
This should have already been clear to everyone since the Padres literally chose not to support the Measure during Chamber of Commerce voting to endorse the measure. Fowler cited parking issues and ingress/egress issues.
“We had some people in the clubhouse that marched to their own drummer, and we don’t want that”
I’d have to assume that Matt Kemp “marched to his own drummer”.
Likely taking over Chargers blood drive, shop with a jock, stepping up community initiatives
Fowler stated that the Padres would be helping to fill the community service void left by the Chargers departure for Inglewood. He specifically cited two of the largest initiatives the Chargers worked on: the Chargers Blood Drive and Junior Seau’s Shop With A Jock (which the Padres already participated in). This was a great signal from Fowler and should be commended. On a more macro level, it shows that the community service program of the Chargers was perfectly fungible to another organization and that the posturing that the city would lose those valuable services if the Chargers skipped town were nothing but fearmongering.
“We have a number of programs under discussion. Going to have smaller packages, something that will guarantee a certain number of wins, so you get tickets if you buy this package until you get a certain number of wins”
Interestingly, this was in response to a question regarding Hispanic outreach. Regardless, this is the kind of innovative, value-based sales program I’ve been advocating for. While not explicitly violating Dee and Gustafson’s ill-timed promise to offer the “lowest price available” to season ticketholders, this would hopefully provide (we need to see the details because every other supposed value-based initiative by this management team has been expressly anti-customer and anti-value) cheaper tickets to attract new fans and keep Petco semi-filled during potentially some of the worst seasons in memory. I particularly the gamification of the ticket package tied to number of wins, but recognize that this type of package would be the easiest to swing behind the scenes to the team’s favor.
“We want to open ourselves up to what these people [Hispanics] want.”
Here’s a hint: it’s not mariachis and tacos on Hispanic outreach days.
“A lot of our market is North/Central because season tickets are fairly expensive”
Yet, this is the market they focus the least amount of marketing on. The Padres appear to be the only business that actively avoids marketing to their most lucrative market.
“We made personnel additions in the front office” to improve Hispanic sales
This is good. Undoubtedly good. Should be noted they already had accomplished Hispanic outreach personnel that Dee fired.
“17 is going to be the year we start making an impact on homelessness” “Monarch School will help us to break the cycle”
This was the portion of the interview where Fowler provided some really good insight on civic issues like homelessness. He seemed to think that Faulconer now had an opportunity to focus resources to try and help with homelessness. Fowler acknowledged that the city needs more beds for them also.
“The rocks and such obviously were not humane solutions, they should not have been used.”
This is referring to the jagged rocks placed along Imperial Avenue to deter homeless from sleeping there, installed prior to the All Star Game. While it’s nice to see Fowler agree it’s inhumane, it should be noted that John Casey, city’s liaison with the Padres, stated that “The Padres and SDPD are asking me when we can see the curbs painted red as well as the rocks at the underpass and Tailgate Park wall”, clearly inferring that the Padres requested the rocks to be placed there.
“We’re concerned that we don’t want our people coming to games harassed, but more importantly we want them safe”
This is good. Not sure what the solution is though.
On transit: “It will help big time. We’d like to have a Coaster stop closer to Gaslamp, that would help us immensely”
Mike Dee personally told me this was something they’d like 3 years ago. No progress has been made. I’d thought the only chance at this was the Chargers Measure C convadium passing, or the Padres ponying up a large portion of the cost, which LOL. This would be something that would help with North County fans getting to games during high traffic times and would be much more effective than the lame-brained early start games that the Padres tried.
“Working with Ace Parking to find parking areas within six blocks of Petco”
I guess this is good, but it seems like commercial parking within six blocks of Petco will be reduced as more and more development occurs.
On 2015 payroll: “For San Diego it was all in”
Just to be clear, all in was a $108M opening day payroll, putting the Padres at 18th in MLB, barely creeping into the Mike Dee Middle of MLB Payrolls (meaning somewhere between 11th and 20th).
“The key is to play aggressive, fun baseball… with a smile on their face”
I can’t wait to lead the league in smiles!!!
“You can only sell patience for so long.”
2018 Marketing Slogan: “Still geographically situated in San Diego!”
Cites the Cubs as a similar example of the Padres rebuild again.
I’ve debunked this erroneous comparison. That is, unless Uncle Ron is getting ready to invest $400M+ in the free agent market like the Cubs. If he is, then I’ll allow it.
“We want people here who can contribute but want to be here”
Like all of our dirtbaggers! Paul Clemens is ready to contribute!
“If you told me that brown jerseys would solve all of our problems we’d be in brown”
Would you settle for it solving most of your public relations, marketing, branding, and fan service problems? Because I might have a brownish solution for those problems I could talk to you about.
“Because the majority of our fans based on qualitative and quantitative basis are not big on brown”
I’m assuming this is based on the mythical focus groups and polling that Partello (and before him, Garfinkel) have cited. These qualitative methods are likely the focus groups that no one can ever recall actually being assembled or attending. The quantitative methods are likely the online polls that are sent to fans and season ticketholders periodically that never directly ask the question on what color scheme they’d prefer, nor are even snippets of these results ever released, nor would I probably believe any polling results that ever were released by the team (likely via a method that didn’t reveal all the necessary data to evaluate said polling).
“We’re going to do a thorough research project when this thing starts getting hot.”
I thought they already did a research project.
“I have more people tell us they want uniforms consistent with the old PCL Padres red, white and blue than brown”
You’re not a patriot and likely hate America if you aren’t supporting red, white and blue uniforms. This is fact supported by qualitative and quantitative data. This is also likely a patently false statement, unless of course, the “more people” consist of discussions around the Fowler dinner table.
“If we start winning baseball games I think people will be less focused on brown and more on winning more games”
Can’t possibly do both. IMPOSSIBLE TO DO BOTH.
To Andy Keatts after asking about brown uniforms: “I like the fact that he’s passionate”
APPRECIATE THE PASSION!
On AJ’s ability to make trades: “If we have players they want they’ll work with him”
I’m sure this is true, and I think a stigma with AJ is likely overblown (including by me at the time), but one important thing about this statement is that the Marlins or Dombrowski may be willing to trade for a Padre, but we have no idea on if they would build in a risk premium of some type for working with AJ.
“He [AJ] doesn’t feel that what people said he did, he did”
This was preceeded by Fowler saying he agreed with the Commissioner’s punishment. One thing AJ does agree with is that Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast is the best value in late night dining in today’s market.
“With AJ and Andy, we have two superior individuals that can develop these players, and Sam Geaney, who I think can get us there earlier than we might expect otherwise.”
Not meaning to diminish AJ, Andy Green, or Sam Geaney’s skills, but this quote scares me. It presumes that you can just accelerate development of young players. This is the exact wrong doctrine to follow when you’re trying to revamp a development system. The point is to develop the players and constantly pushing to higher levels earlier than planned, expecting accelerated development, and creating unrealistic expectations could be potentially harmful to an effort that is best accomplished via patience.
All in all, it was an enjoyable interview. I hope that Ron Fowler has a means to reach the public on 94.9, or maybe will appear on 1090 still. Scott and Andy did a tremendous job of asking direct questions that we aren’t used to after years of Sileo polishing Fowler’s grundle. Fowler is the only honest window into the organization, and his periodic interviews give Padres fans a lot of insight into what the team is doing and thinking. Even if he’s dead wrong on uniforms. And rest assured, he is dead wrong on uniforms.
P.S. Ron, please come on our podcast!