Will Venable's 400-foot drive caught by the Mets' Jason Pridie at Petco National Park on Wednesday would've gone for a home run if one Mets official had gotten his way.
"My point of view was the fences needed to be changed," Mets CEO Sandy Alderson told this blog 90 minutes before Pridie gloved Venable's blast against the right-center wall. "The park needed to be more hitter/pitcher neutral than it was."
Alderson had brought in the right-center fence after his first season as Padres CEO -- from 411 feet to 400 feet -- and later decided a bigger change was needed.
He never got the chance, losing his job when Jeff Moorad agreed to buy the Padres in March 2009 and took over as CEO.
"We were looking at it, yeah," Alderson said Wednesday afternoon, from outside Petco's visiting clubhouse. "We were looking at more serious changes than our first round of changes."
General manager Kevin Towers and others in baseball operations hadn't weighed in on the plan, however. "I can't say that we had gotten to the point where everyone was in agreement," Alderson said. "I don't know what Kevin's point of view would have been."
Alderson has said many times that in a baseball sense, a club is better off if its ballpark plays close to neutral. He didn't mind that Petco favored pitchers, but it was doing so in an extreme sense.
He also said that fans like to see the balls go over fences.
The Padres were losing fans in droves entering 2009. A drop in total ticket sales between 2007 and 2009, no doubt influenced by on-field dips and the Great Recession, amounted to about $30 million. The club's season ticket base was down to about 8,500, a Petco Park low that represented a withering 65 percent drop from the 20,000-plus season tickets when the park opened in 2004. Over a frosty four-month stretch, failed renewals among season-ticket holders wiped 6,500 plans off the season-ticket base in 2008-09.
The Padres since have made gains in the season tickets sales. And Alderson was watching last year when the team won 90 games, its most since 1998.
"I was happy for them last year," he said. "They had a great season. They did a nice job of putting it all together last year."