Saturday, July 9, 2011

Letter to Dodger Stadium

This is a letter I wrote to Dodger Stadium.

"Dear Mr. Hunter,

I love baseball. I umpire baseball. I’ve been to professional umpire school, major league umpire camp, played to the collegiate level, attended Spring Training every year since 2003, have more books on baseball than anybody I know, collect paintings, signed baseballs and have a comprehensive understanding of the game including the ability to rattle off nearly all the World Series winners for any particular year. My current research as a sociologist is on managerial ejections.

On July 7th, 2011, I had mistakenly went to the ball park with my girlfriend because I had mistaken these tickets for July 8th’s game. I found out July 8th’s game time was changed by ESPN to 1 10 pm. Unfortunately, I had made plans to attend the Tim Burton art exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Art in exchange for taking my girlfriend to baseball game. She isn’t into baseball as much as me.. If I was aware of the time change in advance I wouldn’t be getting the short end of the stick. I would rather go to a baseball game any day of the year. In fact, I traded my girlfriend’s attendance for the baseball game to my attendance at the art museum.

However, I received these tickets as a nice gift for umpiring baseball from a man who appreciated my professional style in his son’s high school summer game. I had made arrangements to attend the game which meant getting a baby sitter and paying for parking. To me this was such a treat, because I just moved back from San Diego to Los Angeles after 7 years and really wanted to see a Dodger game.

I was informed by people at the top deck ticket stand, the man who operated the smoking gate, Brett Carlyle, and Judy near lot D to speak with the people in the ticketing booth in Lot D.

With each person I explained my issue with they said that the policy would not allow them to change the tickets because “the tickets had no price on them”. I get it. Each employee is trained to say this otherwise they would lose their jobs. But there needs to be someone with executive authority to make a decision to realize that the game time has been changed and this sort of information is extremely difficult to disseminate to everybody.

I am old school in the belief in doing things the right way. To make things easier, I could have easily traded my tickets for the following day’s game with one of the “I need tickets guys”. My assumption was the Dodgers would be able to take the steps to make things right.

When I had asked to speak with the ticket booth supervisor, I was appalled at his unpolished professionalism. Right off the bat, I knew he was going to regurgitate “policy” when he referred to his subordinates as pronouns (she). Moreover, as I was explaining my dilemma to him he would say things like, “I’m hearing you” while expressing no empathy. I explained to him that I could hear people speaking other languages, but what they are saying does not register cognitively and I explained that this was what Rob was saying to me as he was saying, “I’m hearing you”.

From an organizational perspective, there must be someone that understands the extenuating circumstances and the consequences of applying policy to all. While a broad policy may work for containing a lot of people, what I had asked for is an executive that could help sort things out with a win-win solution. Most upsetting about my interaction with Rob was his misleading me into telling me he was willing to make a “special exception” for me, except my tickets had no price and hence he could do nothing. From what I gathered from different Dodger employees was exchanging future tickets value for value is standard practice and he had lied to my face. In my opinion, Rob is not a polished executive with supervisory capability, but rather a glorified clerk with an exceptional ability to regurgitate information who lacks that essential critical decisive skills necessary to be a vital member of any business or organization.

The offer that Rob gave me in the ticket booth was that I could purchase tickets up until the 8th inning. As willing as I was to do this to appease my girlfriend who became agitated, I was unwilling to do so out of principle because we had tickets, however human error led us to come on the wrong day and there had to be a better solution.

I have been informed of the nature of the entertainment business by Dodger employees on the hotline that my tickets were for July 9th’s game and hence could not use them subsequently for July 8th’s game and this situation was compared to Staple’s Center.
Yet the fact of the matter remains, that there was plenty of capacity in the ball park. Dodger Stadium seats 56,000 people. July 8th’s attendance was announced at 38,529, which means there were nearly 20,000 seats in excess to seat us. The elephant in the room this season is the announced ticket sales are different from the actual attendance. Still there were roughly 20,000 seats in excess to seat us. Something to keep in mind, is there were no immediately pennant implications of tonight’s game as this was a midseason game with the Padres who entered the game in fourth place in the NL west with a 40-49 win loss record, only in front of the Dodgers who entered with a 38-51 record.

My understanding of the situation is Dodger Fans are notorious for showing up late, and leaving early, and there are lots of unsavory elements that come with them. Opening Day was an example of such elements which would naturally lead to a creation of a policy that must be strict to detail that no one comes to Dodger stadium on a free ride. But also, there are so many people just trying to make a life for themselves that love baseball who cannot afford to pay back pay on the salaries of Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, or lawyers for the team’s current ownership situation.

We were happy to exchange these tickets, however Rob and others indicated that these tickets “had no value”. And Rob had actually taken the tickets from us, and kept them on his side of the booth while stating we could purchase tickets for the night’s game. In his words, he simply could not give us “free tickets”. What a hoot. These tickets had enough value to grant us admission into the stadium to see a major league baseball game. These tickets also said, “VIP”. Where I come from, VIP means “Very Important Person”, however when Rob kept them on his side of the ticket booth and didn’t immediately return them, “VIP” meant “Voila In Progress”.

The beauty about baseball is it’s accessible to everyone. It unites people from all walks of life and gives people hope. Current players like Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox or Todd Coffey of the Washington Nationals do not fit the archetype molds of baseball players. The Dodgers very own Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Flags adorn the stadium indicating the player’s country of origins. This is a waving tribute to the strength of what was a farm system that was the toast of Major League Baseball. The point is baseball serves a very important function of giving people hope, of creating a special time vacuum where a person can reclaim their youth and share memories with future generations. Unfortunately, I feel very slighted and alienated from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fortunately, there is an American league team also in “Los Angeles”."

1 comment:

  1. "I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you." -Socrates