Dear Jacqueline Holm [General Manager; Quad City River Bandits]:
Most job applicants would cease trying after not receiving a response after two attempts to contact you about inquiries concerning the assistant general manager position you are flying. As you have most certainly deduced, I am not most job applicants. In fact, I would venture that I am rather unique – unless you have other vastly overqualified, rather handsome grizzled minor league veterans applying for the position. Or perhaps you just think I am an old guy on the internet attempting to mansplain your job to you.
Fair enough. Allow me to tell a tale to illustrate my minor league bona fides.
In 2013, after the San Jose Giants clinched the Northern Division Championship of the California League, the team was immediately awarded with a bus ride to Southern California to play either the Inland Empire 66ers or the Lancaster JetHawks, who were playing the deciding game of the Southern Division Championship. When the bus pulled out of the stadium parking lot, the Giants were not sure who their opponent would be as the the southern playoff teams were still playing the championship game as the Southern Championship game was still being played. However, the bus driver knew to go south, and he would get the final destination via his radio, so through the night the Giants’ bus went into the San Joaquin Valley as the smell of rotting corpse of Tom Joad permeated the air.
Meanwhile, the 66ers and JetHawks kept playing. Eventually, the bus game to a fork — one way was San Bernardino; the other was Lancaster. The bus was forced to pull over on the side of the road in the Sierra Pelona Mountains idling until the 66ers would eventually win in fifteen innings after the clock stuck two in the morning. No remembers it was Abel Baker for the 66ers who drove in Angel Rosa in the fifteenth that night, but some still picture that bus doing its Robert Frost imitation in the desert morning, wondering which way to go with miles to go before the team could sleep.
Most fans do not remember the bus story at all though. And why would they? The minors are a fresh slate each year, players, coaches, stats, and records all pulled out to sea by the tide known as the passing of time. Memories in the minors usually do not last through Christmas. Still, the bus idling in the pines of Gorman on a September night is a damn near perfect snapshot of the minors, To the east, one destiny. To the south, another. But first we must wait for other paths to catch up.
Okay, we are all caught up now. Let’s talks some business — and I am by no means trying to explain your job to you. You obviously are talented at what you do, otherwise you would not have been awarded a GM position — even if your team’s website still says you are the assistant GM, Some cursory research indicates that you are a whiz kid at group sales, which is terrific. However, despite what you might hear at the winter meetings from the NEW WAVE OF PROFIT FOLK, group sales often suffer from a lack of long term sustainability. To use a rock ‘n roll metaphor, nothing last forever, not even cold November rain or Cesar E. Chavez Pack the Park Night.
Sure, signing things like a middle schools and church groups for 500 tickets for a Tuesday night can propel that attendance for a particular year, but what happens two years down the road when the liaison teacher is pissed at your new assistant director of group sales because she did not deliver a table for walk up sales because that is not how they did it in Modesto? Or suppose the principal of that school reschedules eight grade graduation for the night of the Pack the Park? Or if the local Little League’s opening ceremonies are rained out and reschedules for the group night? And church groups? Well, they often decide Jesus is just around another bend, and start doing escape rooms instead of minor league games. Or river float trips.
The dog then must start chasing the tails of other groups, perpetuating a vicious cycle that usually ends with a general manager holding the bill while the group sales manager has moved on to Des Moines. Or Chattanooga. Or Round Rock. Eventually the GM is going to move on also, maybe even out of the profession. Anheuser-Busch and other beer companies loves to pull burned out minor league executives from their positions with the promise of a little more cash, less crazy hours, and never having to fill the relish dispenser again.
But we can talk solutions to fan retention at a later date – like after we figure my compensation for my invaluable services.
Your friend in baseball,
PS: They say not all heroes wear capes, but is not that point of being a hero? Getting to wear cape?