There’s a petition to stop the Padres from naming their future Hall of Fame Plaza after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
The Union Tribune held a poll. Currently 97% of the respondents feel that the Padres made a mistake in naming it the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza. At the time of this writing, there are over 1400 people who think it was a mistake. 45 people disagree. The poll does not state how many of those 45 are named Dee, Seidler, or Fowler.
So how did the Padres respond to this outcry from the fans? President and CEO Mike Dee appeared on Padres Social Hour to talk with Jesse Agler. Dee is a pretty cool character; he doesn’t get shaken easily. And he stood his ground.
Agler asked Dee a very straightforward question: “Why did the Padres name a plaza after the outgoing commissioner Bud Selig?”
“Well, the root of it really stems from things we’ve heard from fans, which is a loud roar that we are not doing enough to celebrate the history of baseball here is San Diego,” Dee’s answer began. He continued for two and half minutes before he said the name Bud Selig.
Dee defended the choice, talking about the changes Selig made in baseball that allowed small market teams to compete. He talked about the helpless feeling of working with the Padres after the fire sale and the strike season. He said that Selig’s actions with regard to small markets changed all that.
“Let’s face it, baseball would not be here in San Diego if it were not for the steadfast resolve that Commissioner Selig had back in the mid-90s, 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.”
Another ten minutes of talking, and that became his opinion, rather than a statement of fact.
“But I can tell you from my point of view… without Commissioner Selig, without his resolve to make it work in San Diego and in other small markets around the country, baseball wouldn’t be here in San Diego today.”
After several more minutes of talking came the slightly less emphatic: “Without Commissioner Selig, I really have questions as to whether or not the Padres would be playing in San Diego today.”
Dee talked for close to 20 minutes, but never gave details of how Selig saved baseball in San Diego. He did, however, refer to his “steadfast resolve” at least three times.
After listening to all this, Agler asked “Do you have any regrets after hearing the backlash from the fans? Would you consider changing your minds?”
“We’re always sensitive to the fans’ point of view, again, email@example.com is always open,” said Dee, referring to the Padres’ email address. “Absolutely no regrets. This was the right thing to do. This was an individual who had as much to do with keeping baseball here in San Diego, not just for this generation but for generations to come, as anybody did, and his steadfast resolve should be commemorated, appreciated, celebrated, and we stand behind the decision and we hope that over time, fans will also come to realize and understand the role that he played here in San Diego because, again, it is an enormous part of our history.”
Dee’s comments reflect exactly how much Selig has been a Commissioner of the owners, and not of the fans. Selig’s resolve was to make sure that money flowed into owners’ pockets whether they were in small markets or big. The Padres, being at perhaps the lowest point in their history at the start of Selig’s reign, both on the field and at the turnstiles, stood to benefit more than most from Selig’s concerted efforts to bring the dollars back to baseball after the devastating 1994 strike.
So, as Selig turned a blind eye to the widening heads of steroid-shooting players who demolished every major home run record because it brought fans and their wallets back into the stadiums, Moores and Lucchino and Dee, then in his first stint with the Padres, benefitted. Ken Caminiti led the Padres to the 1998 World Series after winning an MVP two years prior, and later fully admitted his steroid use during those years. Selig’s tacit approval of steroid use in the 1990s showed that his concern for the dollar always trumped whatever else the issue was. Fans opinions didn’t count until it affected the inflow of money. But baseball execs appreciated that “steadfast resolve”. And apparently, still do.
At one point, Dee actually called Selig’s run as Commissioner “amazing.”
The disconnect between owners and fans on Selig is as wide as the Pacific Ocean.
One signer of the petition mentioned above commented “Who in the HELL thought this was a good idea?! That’s like creating a Car Safety Museum… and naming it the Ford Pinto Car Safety Museum.” For those of you too young to remember, Ford Pintos used to blow up when rear-ended.
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Not exactly the same hero-worship Dee holds for the commish, is it?
When asked if the Padres had any regrets, Dee stated “I think if there is a regret, we could have done a better job of information in advance, to give fans a heads up what we were doing and why we were doing it, as opposed to appearing reactive now, we could have been more proactive.”
I think Dee is optimistic about how much that might have changed the opinions of fans who have hated Selig with a passion for nearly a quarter of a century. But it couldn’t have hurt.
Maybe then he wouldn’t be facing the public relations fiasco he is now.