The Padres season ticket sales staff is the best

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Because I’ve never lived in the same town as a major league baseball team — blast! — I’ve never been in a position to buy season tickets.  I have heard tell of others’ adventures in the land of season tickets before, however, and I usually either hear about how (a) the team’s ticket sales staff is awesome; or (b) the team’s ticket sales staff if terrible.

Sports Business Journal decided to go beyond the anecdotal and to actually put the season ticket sales staffs to the test via the old mystery shopper routine.  The result: the Padres offer the best customer service. The Rockies, the worst. For those who care, the Yankees tied for third place. I mention that because I hear a lot of complaints from friends about the Yankees’ customer service. At least using SBJ’s methodology, those complaints are outliers.

As for that methodology: the SBJ shoppers called each team that had tickets available* and were trained to act disappointed at the price of the tickets offered or that certain tickets weren’t available, and the teams were scored on the alternatives the sales person offered, how they answered questions and that sort of thing.  I have no idea if that captures the essence of what customers truly care about, but it’s kind of neat anyway.

Not included here, but which is often a source of complaints: ongoing customer service for existing season ticket holders. Like a lot of enterprises, one gets the sense that teams are great at getting customers in the door with those initial sales, but then neglect the loyal customers later.  Personally, I’m way more impressed if you treat me well after I’ve given you my money rather than before.

*The Red Sox, Twins Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals weren’t included due to having no tickets available.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.