I Renew My Correspondence With Austin

Dear Austin [Vice President, Sales & Marketing; Fayetteville Woodpeckers]:

I hope you have been well since we last spoke and have been able to put that embarrassing Peckerwood nonsense behind us. I write to you today because of a concern with the concessions company to which you guys might have just unknowingly sold your soul, Pro Sports Catering. These guys handle the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ concessions, and while they have improved the fare from burnt hobo ass to mediocre chain restaurant fare, the city of Fayetteville already has three Applebee’s restaurants. Do they really need another one at the baseball stadium? And just why does a city of 200,000 have three Applebee’s?

Yes, I know that Pro Sports Catering has impressive credentials, and their CEO Tom Dickson is quite the legend in minor league baseball circles. Sure, he is no David Elmore, but who is? Dickson has been on a hell of a run though as his concession empire spreads like crotch rot throughout the land. However, my associate Bongwater says to never fully trust a guy who took a wrecking ball to a strip club, which is essentially what Dickson did in Lansing back in the 90’s to get his stadium built. Those strippers did not have the EPA to fight for their habitat, unlike the mighty woodpecker.

Bongwater is a strange dude though – I mean the guy received his nickname for passing a flask of bongwater down our row once. We all thought it was Maker’s Mark until we took a pull. Imagine our bitter surprise. Anyway, this is not about Bongwater although I am sure we will return to him at some point. This is about impersonal mall food being branded with an artsy fartsy name to give it a local authentic feel. Jump Boot Jerky sounds like it has ties to Fort Bragg, but let’s be honest. It doesn’t.

Now I am not saying you should terminate your contract with Professional Sports Catering. I am just saying this agreement needs to be more than just blind faith, and your organization should establish exactly who is in control. After all, these guys were almost certainly responsible for the Great Beer Line Fiasco in Peoria at the Arizona Fall League last November. I am sure my buddy Nick will fill you in at the Lions Club Luncheon tomorrow. He really loves to tell that story.

Are you nervous for you speaking engagement tomorrow? It is normal to feel a few butterflies. As an expert on service clubs (I have been asked to leave the Optimists’ Club twice for being a realist), I can give you solid advice. For starters, make jokes about rival service clubs, especially those Rotary bastards. Secondly, show great interest in joining their club. Give them some bullshit about wanting to put down roots, and these guys will be taking you to dinner all over town (perhaps at one of the three Applebee’s in town). Do not be afraid to pound the podium to emphasize your points, especially the ones about the stadium cost overruns. That keeps the really old guys awake, and it makes you appear full of passion. Those Lions Club guys love their passion.

You should refer most questions to subordinates, preferably ones from other clubs. These Lions Club guys will talk your ear off if they get a chance, and you and your organization are busy people. I suggest referring most questions to Max Gun [Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations; Lynchburg Hillcats]. We all know that guy loves to talk, and I am pretty sure the Lions will not realize they are talking to a guy from another state.

These Lions are also going to want to hear stories of how hard your job is – young people having to toil is ambrosia to the service club folk. If you have any stories about how you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and then trampled on the poor to get into Colgate, this is the time to share them. If not, maybe you can tell them about all the email inquiries to which you must respond. And the weirdos who author those requests.

Oh my. Time is slipping by, and we have not even touched upon my main concerns about Professional Sports Catering. I suppose that, like Bongwater, will have to wait for another day.

Your friend in baseball,

PS: I strongly recommend closing your presentation by leading the Lions in a “Fear the Wood! Respect the Pecker” chant.

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