Column: Peter Seidler Padres: “Doing nothing is a risk”

These should be magical weeks of optimism. No team has ever lost a single game, even an exhibition. As a fan, you can dream of your team making it to the World Series this year, or making it to the playoffs, or being excited to see its touted prospects turn into stars.

Not this spring. It’s springtime with a villain: the guy who made his town fall in love with baseball all over again.

“We’re here to win the title” San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler said at a meeting with reporters on Tuesday.

This is what you want to hear from your team owner. Instead, that’s what you’re hearing from too many owners this spring: the sport is broken. The economic system is broken. If your team can’t win, your owner may just want you to know that he doesn’t think it’s his fault.

“I don’t agree 100% with what the Padres are doing.” – Dick Monfort, owner of the Colorado Rockies. said.

The Rockies have been in business for 30 years. They have won exactly zero National League West championships.

The Rockies don’t plan to challenge dodgeris this season. Even the Padre.

“They dominated our division for over a decade,” Seidler told The Times later on Tuesday. “We hope and expect that the coming decade won’t be so dominated that we can stand next to them and play great baseball.”

Commissioner Rob Manfredthe person ultimately responsible for selling the game praised the Padres for their talent before saying that they would lose money and questioning their sustainability. Hey fans, buy tickets this year because the Padres might not be able to afford to keep this team together for long!

“This is not about catching lightning in a bottle,” Seidler said.

This spring, the owners of the Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, and Boston Red Sox spoke out about the economics of the game. The owners of the Oakland Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates say they are constantly short on funds. None of these six teams finished higher than fourth in their division last season.

This year, the Padres are in third place in terms of player spending. Last year they played in the National League championship series. They capped season ticket sales this season, setting an attendance record.

As a kid growing up in San Diego, Joe Musgrove received an accolade from All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was arguably the perfect player for this market: bilingual, raised on both sides of the border, great on the field and in the game. society.

In the past, the Padres sold Gonzalez saying they couldn’t afford to spend $20 million per player. This year, the Padres have five players making $20 million — the same as the New York Yankees, more than the Dodgers. Padres’ all-star quintet: Musgrove and fellow pitcher Yu Darvish, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, third baseman Manny Machado and outfielder Juan Soto.

“I’ve played teams that don’t spend money and ship the same thing every year,” said Musgrove, who played three years with the Pirates. “I played for teams that spend money. And there is a clear difference in the teams that rank at the end of the year.”

The Padres played in a small market with Gonzalez. Now they play in the same small market. And this, in fact, is the source of antipathy towards Seidler.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen spends the most money and gets the most attention, but his team plays in North America’s biggest market. What can you do about it? Cohen is George Steinbrenner for a new generation.

San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler in the first inning of the game.

Owner Peter Seidler says the goal is for the Padres to be contenders for the long haul.

(David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Seidler is the one who makes many other owners look bad. The Rockies are playing in a larger market. Pirates play in a larger market. Game A in a larger market. Like all teams outside of Cincinnati, Kansas City and Milwaukee.

How can he take such a financial risk?

“When we talk about risk, there is the risk of doing nothing,” Seidler said.

He studied what might happen if Charging device left San Diego, leaving the Padres as the only major team in the market. The Padres are now making so much money they’ll have to share some with other owners, but Seidler doesn’t think playing in the one-team market explains why.

“I think our business numbers will be the same whether there was a football team here or any other team for that matter,” he told The Times. “We have a great product, a great example, great food. If we didn’t win, people wouldn’t show up.

“We were going to do it no matter what, and I was expecting a very similar result.”

He says it’s not about taking a couple of years of pay raises to win the World Series and then taking a pay cut. In his denial, he uses two words that scared a previous generation of Padres fans.

“There will be no sale,” Seidler said.

He also says it’s not about pumping up the payroll, then flipping the team for profit and letting the new owner decide whether to cut the payroll.

“Me and my family, we will own this franchise for the next 50-75 years,” he said, “hopefully longer.”

Killjoy owners agreed to this economic system a year ago, putting an end to the lockout they imposed. The players were not crushed, as was the case in the previous labor agreement, but they did not get everything they wanted either. Previously, players did not get into arbitration or free agency. The best free agents are still at risk of losing value because the team can’t sign them without losing their draft picks.

In the club, players and coaches often talk about not taking dirty linen out of the hut and not pointing fingers. Owners should learn from this lesson. Brawl if you want in private, but sell sports in public.

At a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Seidler asked a question about sustainability.

“People love that word,” he said with a smile. “Let’s find another.

“Do I believe that our parade will be on land, or on water, or both?

“Getting a great and winning team on the field in San Diego year after year is sustainable.”

It might work. It may not be. But the Padres deserve credit for trying to develop the game, and not the sidelong glance from some of their fellow owners.