I'm just now watching and listening to Padres President Mike Dee's appearance on Padres Social Hour.
Why name the Hall of Fame plaza after Selig?
Immediately he is asked why the Padres chose to name the Hall of Fame Plaza after commissioner Bud Selig. Dee then talks for four minutes about the new Hall of Fame and the re-purposed plaza before getting to Selig.
The gist of what Dee seems to be saying is that the first floor of the Western Metal Supply building will become the new Padres Hall of Fame. It has not gone unnoticed that the Padres organization have not been stewards of their own history for many decades and this is without a doubt something fans have requested.
From my interpretation of his statements it's only the plaza out front that will be named for Bud Selig. He says there the Padres will celebrate MLB Hall of Famers who played for the Padres at some point in their career. To me this means they'll relocate the replica Hall of Fame plaques from the front of the batter's eye to the plaza, to give fans access, something that I personally requested of him during our first meeting.
"We thought and believe it's the right thing to do because let's face it, baseball would not be here in San Diego if not for the steadfast resolve that Commissioner Selig had in the mid-90's, working with John Moores and Larry Lucchino and all of us who were here with the Padres to make baseball work here in San Diego.
I know it's hard for some of our younger fans, who maybe weren't even alive, but not young enough to remember the state of affairs of Padres baseball during those times."
He goes on to list all the problems the Padres faced due to being a small market team (he now insists San Diego is a mid-market), the fire sale and even says there was a possibility that the organization would be moved to Washington. The teams of that era didn't give fans hope that they could compete for a World Series Championship. There was no path for baseball to work in this city.
"Like it or not, Bud Selig was the man who changed that. He changed it for all of baseball but in particular he had a profound impact on what took place here in San Diego."
I found this to be interesting because no one I know has ever heard this tale before.
Selig saving baseball in San Diego is either the best kept secret in #Padres history or a pure canard.— Gaslamp Ball (@gaslampball) August 28, 2014
I watched Fox Sports San Diego's Spotlight about the building of Petco Park in Spring of this year. There was a lot of people taking credit for the construction of Petco Park, but I don't remember Bud Selig being mentioned as the guiding force, like he's being portrayed today. I asked the host of Spotlight if I missed it. Surely a man with such an influence would be front and center in a documentary of this type.
Dee goes on to credit John Moores, Larry Lucchino and other community leaders for rallying around Prop C. Then why not name the plaza after Moores, he invested a good portion of the money? Maybe they thought it'd be an unpopular decision since Selig allowed him to take $200M of broadcast money with him when he sold the team.
"But I can tell you from my point of view, and many of the people that were involved with that process, despite all that hard work here locally, without Commissioner Selig, without his resolve to make it work here in San Diego and other small markets around the country, baseball wouldn't be here in San Diego today.
So we believe it was the right thing to do. It's a significant part of Padres history."
He then says with a smile "I certainly recognize that it's controversial." He describes how they've read the tweets, answered the phone calls and he appreciates the passion of the fans. He continues that it's just a shame that the critics couldn't have been in the plaza for the ceremony because they would have heard politicians tell why Bud Selig's name should be forever etched in Padres history.
We will proudly place Commissioner Selig's name on that area.
Were the Padres taken by surprise by the backlash?
After 7 1/2 minutes Dee takes another question from host Jesse Agler. He's asked if he was taken by surprise by the fan backlash.
I think it took us by a little surprise but we didn't think it'd be popular with all fans because it's impossible to understand what was taking behind the curtain, unless you were behind the curtain and knew the role that Commissioner Selig played.
They shouldn't have been taken by surprise, Padres fans booed Selig in 2004 when he opened the new park. If Dee were here then he'd have known that but he had skipped town 2 years earlier with Lucchino.
Meanwhile the U-T's poll reveals that 96% of fans think the Padres erred by naming the plaza after Selig. I'd say they were a little more than a bit surprised.
The early polling at the San Diego Union-Tribune over the Padres' announcement of a Selig Plaza: http://t.co/VCKdh0IuSn— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 28, 2014
He says that he knows a lot of fans say that Selig wasn't a help during the time that the Padres went through ownership changes and when they previously failed to get an All-Star Game.
Commissioner Selig was enormously supportive of Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler and this ownership group getting the team two years ago and putting us in a position not just to have an impact on baseball in San Diego but on baseball nationally by participating on committees and help skew some of the crucial decisions, including the most recent one in the election of the new commissioner, that are taking place in baseball.
There was a time that the Padres had a seat at the table for those types of major decisions back in the late 90's. For whatever reason that hadn't been the case over the past 10 years.
Now Dee says the Padres are well represented.
Without Commissioner Selig I really have questions as to whether or not the Padres would be playing in San Diego.
Dee then explains to Randy Jones, who sits beside him on the couch, that because of Selig's leadership, small to mid-market teams can compete. He acknowledges that the Padres are not competing now but that they are working as hard as they can to change that.
He also mentions that there's been 20 years of labor peace which is unprecedented, all because of Selig.
Fans feel slighted by Selig
Selig didn't attend the remembrance ceremonies for either Jerry Coleman or Tony Gwynn when they passed away earlier this year. Dee responds by saying that Selig had commitments that he could not change and that he sent representatives in his place.
There was also no mention of Gwynn's passing at the All-Star game. Dee says that Selig hinted at the ceremony that Gwynn would be mentioned at the World Series.