Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dodgers Install Revolving Door on Front Office

Bill Shaikin of the LAT also reported Tuesday that the Dodgers' apparent dismissal (or at least removal from their website) of three more front-office executives brings the total to 22 employees in the last 15 months. And the ongoing McCourt soap opera isn't supposed to be affecting the team, right?:

The Dodgers have parted ways with three vice presidents, the latest in a series of front-office departures over the last two off-seasons.

The executives let go include Ray Maytorena, a former Secret Service agent hired as head of security two years ago. The Dodgers had expanded Maytorena's duties last season to include oversight of ushers, ticket takers and parking attendants.

The Dodgers also cut ties with Steve Spartin, who was in charge of developing corporate partnerships, and Joe Walsh, who oversaw human resources and fan service initiatives.

Baseball sources who required anonymity confirmed the departures to The Times, and those executives no longer appear on the employee directory on the team website. Josh Rawitch, Dodgers vice president of communications and the authorized spokesman for the club, said he could not comment on personnel matters.

The marketing department has three employees listed in that directory, down from eight in last spring's media guide. The Dodgers plan to retain an ad agency to handle some marketing responsibilities, according to one of the sources.

Before I get into trying to interpret the tea leaves here, let me at least acknowledge sympathy for all three of these folks, as losing one's job during the holidays really has to suck. That's a pretty cold move; but to be fair I admit I have had to fire someone during the holidays as well and it's not a fun conversation to have. It's never a fun conversation, for that matter, but during the holidays it seems especially bitter.

That said, I'm intrigued by the departures of the last two folks, and what reflection it may (or may not) have on their respective departments' performance the last couple of years. As a fan, I've noticed that the corporate sponsorships that the Dodgers have seemed to grab in recent years seem to be at the middle-tier at best; San Manuel Casino, Claim Jumper Restaurants, and Hyundai all seem to be sponsors more suited for Petco Park rather than a demographic with proximity to Hollywood and its glitz and glamour (to be fair, we do have the movie trailer invasion each game as well). And I suppose I should be thankful that we haven't given naming rights away to Dodger Stadium...yet...but surely there have to be some other potential sponsors who want to be associated with a blue-chip sporting franchise. (Perhaps all of those candidates already give to the Lakers.)

As for the fan service initiatives: I don't know. On the one hand, I applaud the Dodgers for amping up their publicity of the Stadium code of conduct as well as the phone number to text if one is seated around disruptive or threatening behavior. But I don't know if that compensates for an apparent decrease in the number of ushers--or at least the visibility of ushers in each aisle--in the past couple of years.

Finally, for the apparent outsourcing of marketing responsibilities, considering alternative marketing techniques is all the rage today for consumer-facing companies, so I'm not surprised the Dodgers are taking the leap as well. The question is whether all of these alternative mechanisms yield a reasonable return, and particularly in the case of social networking, I'm not wholly convinced yet. But hey, alternative channels are worth exploring...just don't expect much (see the recent Tron Legacy campaign as an example of a swing and a huge miss).

From a creative perspective, however, there's no place to go but up. The multi-year "This Is My Town" campaign banished the Angels' billboards out of Los Angeles, but once it devolved into utilizing c-level celebrities (Tara Lipinski? Really?), it really was impotent and absurd (and of course, we Sons (and some of you readers) all got in the mockery back in 2009 about this very point).

More importantly from a marketing effectiveness perspective, however, it would be helpful if the Dodgers had someone on the team they could market for 2011. And it's not Juan Uribe, Juan Castro, Dioner Navarro, or Tony Gwynn Jr. So maybe there are other ways we could skin this cat (since you've already cut the headcount anyway)...


Fred's Brim said...

I heard the security guy got canned when they found out fans were allowed to drink 32oz gin and tonics in the stadium

Steve Sax said...

Why did it take them two years then?

In all seriousness, the hidden flask thing needs to be better monitored, both at entry and during the game. I have this awful memory of a few years ago, when there was a guy getting sauced who then got into an argument with someone else and he started challenging the other guy to a fight...while his eight-year-old kid looked on in horror, tears streaming down the kid's face as he begged his dad not to fight. It made everyone in the crowd totally uncomfortable.

Fred's Brim said...

ugh - that sounds Philly-ish.
I've never been a fighter so I don't get that shit.

Kyle Baker said...

Can I propose that we refer to Navarro as "Dinner" from now on?

Thanks for the reference to fewer ushers, Sax. You know it's been one of my fascinations for a few years now.

32oz gin and tonics? That's what Mr. C and I call a "single."

Falling LEAVes said...

What good is the texting or calling the phone number if you have no reception? Well, I guess you can't blame that on the Dodgers, more like your phone or carrier. In my case, I blame the phone. I have used the text service once or twice. I'm glad they still have Josh around! Whose idea was it to put the My Town billboard on the back of a lifeguard tower?