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: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.