Last night, the Padres held a Season Ticket Holder Rally at Petco Park. You were able to RSVP through your ticket holder account on Padres.com, the gates to the Park were to open at 6:00, and the Rally would begin at 6:30. I wasn't sure what all was going to happen with the Rally, but I had to meet eastbaysd to get my 'PEN shirt before Heath takes them all back for his Scrooge McDuck-like activities.
I got there right at 6:30 as Jeff Moorad, Tom Garfinkel, Jed Hoyer, and a guy they work with (forgot your name, sir, sorry) were entering the little stage setup on top of the home dugout. I cruised through the concourse down the odd-numbered side of the Park to try and find a seat. I passed a small merchandise area set up with signs advertising 20%-50% off, which was disappointing for me because it was a day before payday. Near sections 111 & 113 were banquet tables set up with chafing dishes and wheeled concession carts. I scuttled over toward the banquet tables and stood behind people loading up hot dogs. A concessionaire lifts the lid to one of the chafing dishes to reveal a pile of silvery, foil wrapped objects, waved his hand in front of them for emphasis and told me to take some, they're free, but I'm standing just out of arms reach. What I can reach though, is the big bin fill of small bags of peanuts. I grab two. Peanuts are good. The concessionaire looks at me impatiently for not grabbing hot dogs already, but I'm trying to signal with my eyes that there's a person in front of me and I can't quite reach the glorious silver foil bounty yet. After what seemed like an eternity, the person in front of me moved out of the way and I was able to grab two hotdogs and stuff them in my pockets. The warmth in my pants was pleasing. I passed one of the wheeled concession carts where other concessionaires were arranging miniature plastic bottles of Coke, Sprite, and water. Coffee was there, too. I went down to find a seat for the rally.
Hit the jump for the rest of the tale because jbox is paying me on a jbux per page view scale, and if you hit this link directly and you see three little stars below this, go back to the front page and do it right. No cheating.
The guy who works with Jeff, Tom, and Jed was just finishing the introductions at podium as I grabbed a seat. Jeff Moorad then took to the podium and greeted everyone. I didn't take any notes on anything because I was eating free hot dogs and peanuts, so this is going to be recalled from poor memory.
Moorad started talking into the microphone at the podium, but his voice is so low, it wasn't carrying to the section I was sitting in. People started yelling and waving their arms. Moorad stopped for a minute while the sound was adjusted and said he thought people were just excited about what he was saying. Way to go, deaf people, you had his hopes up. Now they're ruined. Anyway, Moorad talked about the usual stuff, San Diego's awesome, team's going through a rough patch, not worried, if he could sign something that would guarantee we'd be 3 games up in early September back in April, he would have, etc. He said that we're on pace to shatter season ticket renewal rates since Petco's opened. Already, there has been a 61% renewal rate. He talked about commitment to winning and went into the details regarding the waiver claim on Hiroki Kuroda. I think he said Jed told him the team would be on the hook for $2.7m, to which he expressed disbelief. "For Kuroda???" Anyway, the Dodgers didn't like what Jed offered and pulled him back and the deal wasn't done, but Moorad's point was that it's a good sign for the franchise that we were in a position to be making claims on players like that at this point in the season. Moorad also thanked the fans, saying that he'd hoped before the season began that we'd reach 2 million in attendance and he thinks we're going to. Somewhere in there, he mentioned that they've operated at about $3m under what their budget was supposed to be and they've already reinvested that in the team. (I think in the form of Ludwick and Tejada, not 100% sure if that's what he said.)
Moorad introduced Tom Garfinkel and he took the podium. The Mentor told us that San Diego is the best place to live, which got a small cheer, and said that fact comes with a lot of civic pride. We are proud to live in America's Finest City and he and his colleagues have been working to make the Padres a unique experience. This includes changing music played in the ballpark. He talked about how they've lowered ticket, parking, and concession prices this season and said that if and when we win the Series, prices will not go up. Then he used like seven adjectives to introduce Jed Hoyer, which, after the third one, made it sound a little ironic and a touch blowhardy. A rare miscue for the Mentor?
Jed took the podium and threw it on the ground. Just kidding, he was all cool and stuff. He again mentioned the team, the slide, every team goes through it, etc. He talked about the draft, saying they were very pleased with the results in spite of what happened with Whitson. He says it's just fine and it won't hurt the Padres in the long run because we'll have the 11th pick next draft and will be able to draft someone who is more major league-ready than Whitson would be. Jed talked up Moorad and told him that they'd been supportive of everything he's wanted to do to better his staff and the team. He went to Moorad with the draft budget and told him he was going to be over budget, and Moorad allowed it. He said he told Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez that since we're in a pennant race, they're waiting to talk contracts until November, where they have meetings scheduled. He couldn't say exactly what next year's team would be like for obvious reasons, but the key guys will be there. Controlling Ludwick for next season is a plus. Jed also said that after each game, an attendance email is sent out. He said he looks really closely at it and has noticed that attendance has been going up each month and that is good.
The Rally opened up to Q&A, where season ticket holders were allowed to read questions that they had sent in. Pad Squad Andre was doing roadie duties, like a pro, of course. This is where I began to tune out because people can ask some pretty silly questions that just make me annoyed. The first (maybe not the first) guy asked about limiting sales to out-of-town fans because he was annoyed at the amount of Philly fans for the last homestand. Garfinkel fielded the question saying that they looked a lot more numerous because of where they were seated but they totaled probably less than 10% of the total attendance and they can't help that some season ticket holders resell their tickets to out of town fans. Moorad finished by saying there's one way to stop visiting vans from showing up, and it's about 42,000 season tickets sold. One guy said a lot of words and finished by telling them to talk about the philosophy of Heath and Adrian. Nobody knew what that meant. Another person asked what happened to the Five for Five deal and Tom said that they're subject to various restrictions from suppliers and concessions people and it basically wasn't available. Someone else asked why their seats had been changed for their Opening Day reservation that came with their renewal and the guy who works with Jeff, Tom, and Jed explained that due to the limitations of certain plans, they had to do their best to work out situations where the same seats are split between different parties. They decided priority based on longevity and other factors, so if you notice you renew for next season and you don't have your seats Opening Day, that's what happened. He also said they added Opening Day to everyone's season ticket plan because that's the thing that everyone asks for. Other questions were asked and I don't remember what they were. Someone else who was there, help me out in the comments.
The man that works with Jeff, Tom, and Jed said they'd outlined an SD out on the outfield grass and we all had to go down there and stand for a picture to be taken from the top of Section 300. These sly foxes; they give you free food, get you all full and happy, then they make you walk? It was getting cold and I only had my soccer scarf. On top of that, I was full of chewed hot dog and many, many peanuts, but since I was obligated by the hidden contract I signed when I took these bribes, I complied.
There were a lot of people there, but they wouldn't stop moving so I couldn't count them all. It didn't look like they were going to have enough room for everyone on the SD. Pad Squad Andre was organizing people like the Rapture was upon us. I got to the line for one of the letters, I think it was an S or a D, but from there I was able to watch Andre work his magic. Arranging people into letters looks really difficult and I still think there were too many people, so there may be some extraneous punctuation marks around the letters. We stood around for about ten minutes while they took pictures. I was behind a guy who had his daughter sitting on his shoulders, so I'm pretty certain I won't be able to see myself in wherever it ends up.
From there we were released back to the safety of the seats. As we walked out, there were still many hot dogs and soft drinks available. Not just available, but being forced to take. "Take these hot dogs, we don't want them! They're free! Take as many as you want." Concessionaires gave me strange looks as I walked past their offerings, as if I were turning my nose up at them. The eighth time I was told to take as many hot dogs as I wanted, I told them I already had and showed them my empty hands. If I ate another hot dog, I'd be sick. Some peanuts, though, I could save for later. No peanuts left, however. I grabbed a miniature Coke bottle and headed for the exit. I waited for eastbaysd to close the place down, got my 'PEN shirts, and headed north. And that was STH Rally 2010.