A recent article by San Diego Union-Tribune writer Bill Center quoted Padres CEO Jeff Moorad as saying, “We are not changing the distances at PETCO Park.”
This is not a change in the Padres philosophy or stance. However, Center went on to write “Moorad also said fans hoping to see changes made to the dimensions at PETCO Park should find another cause to champion, although some in the organization would favor a shortening of the fences in right field.” Moorad also was quoted as saying, “I’ve been consistent. PETCO Park, as it is constructed, presents opportunities that few teams have to contour a team to the ballpark.”
I would love to know the context of the questioning by Mr. Center. Was Moorad’s comment in jest? That wasn’t my interpretation. If not, it doesn’t sit well with me as a lifelong Padres fan, nor should it with other devoted fans. The “new regime” essentially tells fans to reserve the right to voice their opinions.
Center conducts a weekly chat answering many Padres-related questions. I commend him for doing so. However, I find what seems to be an obvious bias against a possible PETCO Park fence modification in right field, and his disdain to answer direct questions, rather smug. Having said that, he has no problem explaining to fans ad nauseum that Chase Headley or Jesus Guzman will not be moved to second base. Hey, don’t get me wrong, he has every right to conduct his weekly chat the way he sees fit. However, I find it disturbing when posters present rational arguments regarding the fences and he doesn’t post them, but will take posters who use an alias using my name (and misrepresenting my opinion) or other avid supporters of a modification. Is this a bias, agenda or censorship by Mr Center … or the front office?
Without bombarding you with a plethora of numbers that suggest PETCO Park has not been an advantage for the home team (possibly the contrary), skip past the numbers and the fact that a team tailored to a ballpark extremely limits your options. It limits the players you can draft, attract, sign from free agency and retain. Case in point: Anthony Rizzo being dealt to Chicago and Yonder Alonso being brought in from Cincinnati to be a player who (in theory) could fit PETCO Park more favorably. While I liked both trades, I dislike the reasoning.
For me, not only is PETCO Park arguably the most boring venue in baseball because of the way it plays, it’s also the most beautiful. So, suffice it to say, it’s frustrating and has been an ongoing topic of conversation for fans since the park opened in 2004. You know, before “the new guys” — before the revolving door of new regimes and compensation cases for former general manager Jed Hoyer’s non-lateral move to Chicago. Ironically enough, one member of the old regime, Sandy Alderson, listened to the fans of his team and has made modifications to Citi Field in New York this offseason. Something that his ownership group was planning in San Diego before the John and Becky Moores divorce debacle.
In an article by Adam Rubin of ESPN, Alderson made comments about Citi Field I find myself saying daily regarding PETCO Park. The article suggested at least “one motivation would be to make the ballpark more fair for hitters.” What a concept. Alderson went on saying “we’re not looking for an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitors’ home runs. At the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there as opposed to a team that comes in for three games and doesn’t really have to alter an approach or think about it too much and leaves.” Smart guy. The piece touches on entertainment value, which has been my biggest problem with PETCO Park. Alderson acknowledges this, and goes on saying, “To some extent, it’s a question of entertainment. The hardcore baseball fan enjoys the 2-1, the 3-2 (score). We’re appealing to a little broader segment. I think offense is appealing. Offense sells.” Maybe Moorad should take notes.
I suggest, Mr. Moorad, you have someone else handle public relations for the Padres in the future. You have committed a major blunder. By telling Padres fans to stop championing the cause for moving in the right-field fence, you, in effect, have told many devoted fans to shut up. I do not condemn you for being against such a change today, but I do criticize you for closing your mind completely to a possible change in the future, which a failure of your philosophy might warrant. Being so obstinate smacks of elitism and arrogance, which is an insult to Padres fans and a foolish way to encourage support and increased attendance. Furthermore, I will continue to passionately campaign for moving in the right-field fence, because, among other reasons, it would be the simplest way to add exciting offense. It is wrong to limit the talent of a good hitter by settling for a playing field that is so extremely unfair? Instead of spending millions on a new scoreboard, you should give fans what they need most: a playing field that encourages the exciting performance of great talent. The test of a good baseball organization is not to take advantage of a ballpark’s quirks or gimmicks, it’s to produce an exciting and winning team based on the acquisition of superior talent. Our park rewards mediocre pitchers and handicaps star hitters. Fans like me deserve and only desire a fair park which rewards talent instead of stifling it.
So, is it all about money? I find these comments disturbing for a new regime that came on board and expected fans to automatically show up and “keep the faith” in order to increase revenue. Is this a new regime that promised to listen to what the fans wanted or is this a public-relations spin to, once again, shut up fans from being informed and to ease pressure of the ownership group financially?