*SDPads1 NOTE: I had this meeting a while back, but decided that I wanted to save this write up for the launch of the new site. The launch came a little later than I expected, but here it is, finally, in all it’s glory. I’d like to thank Padres President Tom Garfinkel for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with me. It’s not every day that some guy who runs a blog get’s the chance to have a sit down chat with not only the Owner of his favorite team, but also the President & newly appointed General Manager (I’ll get to that in the post) all in the span of a month. I truly feel lucky and cannot thank them enough. Enough of my babbling….enjoy the post*
On October 30th, 2009, I awoke from my slumber to check my e-mail as I do every morning. As I glanced through my subject headings, a certain e-mail just so happened to catch my eye. The subject read….”Arch Rival”. At the time (what can I say, I guess I go through a lot of arch rivals) there was only one person that it could have been. GARFINKEL! I immediately opened it up to read the e-mail. Sure enough it was from Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel, and he recently talked to Padres owner Jeff Moorad about our meeting, read my blog and was asking to meet me. At first I was excited….then my excitement turned to terror as I thought, “perhaps he was running late the day I met with Mr. Moorad & he wants to finish the job he originally planned by killing me”. Then I thought, “hmmm I wonder what’s for breakfast”. Was it a coincidence that immediately after reading an e-mail from him that I became hungry for breakfast? You be the judge.
So we set up a meeting for November 17th, down at the Petco offices. I was going to bring my huge 3 ring binder titled, “SDPads1’s A Million and One Ways to Improve the Padres” with me to the meeting hoping to get some kind of job out of it, but someone had already beaten me to the punch and used that idea. I waited briefly in the lobby and then finally he came down the stairs to meet me. Somehow at that moment in time a tumble weed rolled right by my leg, despite being in the Padres offices. Our eyes met and there was no need for introductions. In case you are unaware of the situation, I’ve been very critical of Mr. Garfinkel in the past on various Padres message boards. Upon his arrival in San Diego some of his comments in the media gave the impression that he was a Friar hater, a breakfast lover & wanted to change the uniforms to Red, White & Blue. Not exactly stuff that the fans of San Diego wanted to hear. Anyways, he then proceeded to give me a tour of the offices. The season ticket offices were getting an extreme overhaul. There were some tarps hanging from the ceiling and it was almost completely gutted. He mentioned that they had increased the amount of season ticket specialists and in the process needed to make room for them. Starting this season each customer will have a specific specialist in charge of their account. I think this is a great idea, and if I had season tickets it would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that I had one person in charge of my tickets, as opposed to calling and talking to a different person every time that I called with an issue.
The next stops consisted of a tour of the players locker room, the training room & the players dining area. After a couple hacks with a leftover bat still in the locker of Adrian Gonzalez, we headed to the Padres dugout. I’ve actually been in the dugout a couple times now, but there’s just something about walking through those doors and seeing that ball field sitting right in front of you. It’s an amazing sight. Once there, we began talking about the ballpark. The first thing I brought up was signage. You see other ballparks on TV and you absolutely know that it’s that specific teams ballpark. Where is the San Diego Padres signage? He said that when he first came to the Arizona Diamondbacks it was the same way. He began taking some sponsor signs down & began putting up Diamondbacks signage. People thought he was crazy for throwing sponsorship money away, but as the signage space became limited, it also became that hot commodity that companies would pay more for, balancing things out in the end. After that we finally got to the infamous Bill Center interview. Despite having the best intentions in that interview, stuff didn’t come out as he meant. He doesn’t hate the Friar and the uniforms will not be changed to Red, White and Blue. But one thing is true……he is a breakfast lover. Speaking of which, I have a very important announcement regarding an integral part of Padres baseball. Sunday breakfast’s will be returning next season!! I didn’t get a chance to go to one this past season, but according to Garfinkel it was a success. I’ll definitely be attending one this next season and get my breakfast on. After reminiscing about some great Padres moments from the past season we made the trek up to his office.
Once in the office the first thing we discussed were the ticket prices. Despite being told that all season ticket prices would either stay put or decrease for the 2010 season, some season ticket holders were shocked to see their price actually increased. He admitted that it was a mistake to not include the words *FULL SEASON* to the letter that was sent out, since a very small amount of short season ticket holders saw their price go up a bit. I was then shown a super top secret binder (what is it with all these 3 ring binders??), assembled by the great Paul DePodesta & Co., that showed the ticket breakdowns for last season and this season. This same binder actually had every stat, every breakdown & every theory you could think of in it too. In fact, I may or may not have seen the equation for everlasting life in it. Bottom line is the previous ticket breakdown just didn’t make sense and I fully agree with him. Hence why certain parts of the ballpark were consistently empty time after time (COUGH TOYOTA TERRACE COUGH). Being that I run the Padres merch site .400 in ‘94 as well, I asked about the Padres Fan Fest. It will be making it’s triumphant return on February 13th, 2010 and my favorite part, the garage sale, will be back as well. I look forward to this event every year and will definitely be walking out of there with tons of random stuff. I also asked if the 5 for 5 deal would return, but as of now the concessions have yet to be finalized, so no word on that just yet.
The conversation then turned to the team. He asked what I thought of the team this coming year. At the time Jed Hoyer was GM for roughly 23 whole days so I told him the truth: I really don’t know what to expect, because I don’t know what Jed is going to do with this team. It isn’t reported to the fans what an Assistant GM does and doesn’t do. All the credit for every single trade goes to Theo regardless of who orchestrated it. Shortly after mentioning this he got up from his chair and spoke with his assistant briefly and then came back. A couple minutes went by and then there was a knock on the door. Who could it be? None other than new Padres GM Jed Hoyer. That Garfinkel guy is a sneaky fellow. Hoyer then came in and Garfinkel said I told him that I didn’t know what this Jed Hoyer guy has done or could do, to which Hoyer replied that all he really did was get Theo coffee while he was in Boston. Hoyer then asked what spots in the lineup I thought needed improvement. After making some suggestions position wise, I also mentioned health as being a big factor with the past Padres teams. Sure enough in Depo’s magic binder there was a couple pages of stats dedicated to health. Hoyer mentioned how overused some players are so early in their careers and it burns them out. The first name that came to my mind was Mark Prior. I said how if you look at the 2003 season the Cubs starters of Wood, Prior, Zambrano & Clement were all well over 200+ IP and all of them were in the top 15 in the NL in K’s. Meaning they threw a heck of a lot of pitches that season. We both blamed Dusty Baker for his crazy managerial skills. Hoyer then had to make a quick exit since he was scoping the minor league free agent list right at that time.
Before I had to leave I had to ask THE question that was on everyone’s mind at the time. Will Adrian Gonzalez be traded? I mentioned how in the recent season ticket brochures Adrian was not featured prominently. Garfinkel said that people were looking to much into that, and that they basically just picked pictures that they really liked. He then said if your house is worth 400,000 dollars and someone comes up and offers you 900,000 dollars, despite the house not being for sale would you take it? In other words they aren’t looking to deal him but if someone pays the right price then they will consider it. Makes sense to me, but I still would have marketed Adrian more since they are trying to make that connection with Mexico. Finally it was time for me to leave. I asked Garfinkel if we should take a picture of us waving our fists in the air at each other…but then he said…..we don’t need to do that….we’re no longer enemies. And I actually agreed with him…that is until Bill Center decides to interview him again.
Little known fact: There is a picture of Tom Garfinkel and his family from this past Halloween, in his office….what was he you ask?