Larry Baer Welcomes You Back to Oracle
Do you need a pep talk. I need a pep talk. Like twenty four seven someone of follow me around and homey fund movies to watch and recommend small businesses to support. You just described the total. Sf podcast bay area culture fund guests cable car bell ringing pandemic support group led by the chronicles peter. Hart lob and heather knight new episode every friday. Morning said skype at total. Sf wherever you. Listen to podcasts. Hello and welcome to the giants splash. Podcast i'm your host chronicle giants beat writer susan's lesser and today. Our guest is giants ceo. Larry baer this is a good week to welcome larry onto the podcast because of course the home owners. Friday larry welcome. How are things going. Are the preparations coming for getting things opened up finally for fans on friday. Thanks susan things are going well. And it's i i have to say there's so much pent up demand i think both you know in the community but also within the giants organization to be able to welcome back fans and it's a believe it or not it's been eighteen months or so since september of twenty nineteen since Fans were last able to attend a baseball game. And you know it's gonna be. I think a a day and then the first home stand will be really a feeling of gratitude and a reflection that we've been through a lot and last year as a community Ballparks are really a way for people to come together. And though they'll be some physical definitely a separation and we'll be sitting in pods and we won't be literally next door to strangers was staying. In the ballpark. I think there'll be a great feeling of continuity and camaraderie and i think it will be emotional for me. I know when we get to Friday at one thirty five for the first pitch and even the the ceremonies Became earlier around one o'clock on friday afternoon. Yeah what sort of fun things are planned do you do. You guys have a few tricks up your sleeve with things to welcome fans back with. We do and a traditional form we. We're not gonna do too many reveals before the before friday but we are going to. Have you know. I think a really you know meeting full upset of ceremonies. That will recognize All that we've been through as a community and it'll be on it'll be upbeat also be You know recognize The her heroism. That has been just such a part of our community and a word that we were going to be using a lot. Because i think it represents our community Really well and that word resilience. And i think the folks that you'll see honored on opening day will be individuals who demonstrated resilience Through all we've been through in the last year and and You also a lot of gratitude for for for them. And it's the first chance for folks in san francisco to relate to get together in in larger numbers and and pay their respects and and data tribute antastic. Now i know that governor newsom just In fact before we start talking was it was mentioning that maybe sometime in june full opening of the economy i think mid june What is the hope level there that perhaps at some point you get a full stadium. I don't know if you can hear. But i'm knocking on wood right now and crossing fingers can't hear me crossing figures. Maybe you could hear the knock you on what. You're what what we're trying to do. Really susan is. We're trying to you know look to you. Know being better than april. June being better than may and it's we know it's an incremental process and we know the health numbers have to remain good We're really proud of san francisco. The bay area in general and the san francisco community specifically because their numbers have been terrific Compared to to other parts of the world and And i think terrific that's not to diminish the fact that there are certain certainly have suffered in our own community but relatively good and if they can continue relatively good and continue to improve. I think and we can show that the fans safe procedures at the ballpark. Which we believe are going. Make the ballpark. Arguably the one of the safest places you could be Outdoors that We're going to be able to get our ourselves to to a place where it's going to feel a lot much more like normal and much like the experience. We're used to for baseball a later in the season. And i don't wanna put a date to that whether it's the all star break whether it's june whether it's the second half of the season but You know we're cautiously optimistic. We can get there now. You you mentioned to me when we talked briefly The weekend that you guys were going to be looking at how the yankees homestand went because they have some of this similar protocols in place that you guys will have. You had a chance to talk to them. What were your impressions of how things went for them. Yes we we've talked to the yankees in the yankees. Have a new york. City has some of the same protocols san francisco Relating to being prepared to show a test of a negative test and left any two hours or poof vaccination and And wealth the with with the yankees. And what better than than They had forecast and everybody. The great thing is that the fans in new york and i think it'll be similar in san francisco. They understand it's not exactly going to be the same experience that we're used to gates and not the same experience used to at the concession opportunities as we as we do concessions online and and the various things but but but fans were willing to to know go through those different processes knowing that just like we were saying a minute ago that will come out the other end In a in a place that you know probably in twenty twenty one. Hopefully in twenty twenty one will be able to be Be back to a normalized situation so I think the fans have that in the back of their mind and and really really Encouraged by and want back to To baseball and in person and having been to a game as i know you have games Without fans it's just it's the game of baseball ha- has to really thrives on the energy of the fans and having the fans back even numbers of that nine thousand on opening day. Eighty eight hundred nine hundred That's a meaningful difference versus zero abs-. Absolutely i mean. I don't think the fans will ever be taken for granted by anyone again at on on the business side of baseball teams. Which are you run. I can't imagine anybody ever has taken for granted. But i've heard so many players and media members saying i missed the fans. You're set some of the games in scottsdale. How did you feel things. Went there with also limited capacity. Won't we were things went. Well we were very conservative. And i think that's if there's any message for the fans We are really looking out for your interests in terms of safety health and safety and We want the fans to trust us. And i think in arizona were able to test some things and the the distance seeding and the way to do concessions. While the protocols arizona were different than san francisco we we really doubled down and went beyond what was required Because we felt that we wanted to Just to make sure that we we had a safety for not just fans but also for our employees people that were working in arizona. A slightly older workforce also. And so i so went. Well we had it was safe and we expanded the number of fans that we allowed as overtime we started only the five seven hundred range and then we ended up in the fifteen to eighteen hundred range so we we tested all systems and create some good learnings for For when we open ear In san francisco and did you. You obviously able to go to games at oracle park last year. But did you have a out to we. Did our family had a cut out. i said it. When i when i went to a game i was seated. You know separate from my cutout. So i guess i was very duplicate But i i have to say that there was a i was happy to see. The games played but i have to say susan. I don't know if you felt this way that you know it was almost a hollow experience and it was sort of a sobering experience being there because i as i said earlier. I mean the energy of the ballpark and at the community feeling. And it's you know it's high fiving the person next to you when something good happens for the giants even if you may not even know that person right. You're if somebody's sitting next to you and the the family connections and everything all that that my favorite my favorite activity one of my favorite activities in the ballpark. I won't be able to do this. Initially this year is to walk through the stands and see you know mothers and sons and fathers and daughters and grandparents and grandchildren and high five them and and And just see that soak up the the energy of of a great community experience and and that was missing last year. And we're gang a little bit of that back as we start this season and hopefully we'll get it all back soon and And that's you know that's something. That's really i think. In many ways uniquely unique to baseball. And you don't necessarily have as much in the other sports. Yeah absolutely. I mean you know i i know so. Many people that have formed lifelong friendships. Just the ballpark from people. They sit next to regularly or you know round up talk into in a concession line or something i mean that's right also also the people along those lines at work at the ballpark. I've had our guest services. Staffer ushers and security kick takers ticket sellers the years who have got to know that the customers and they go to the their life events they go to birthday parties of customers and they go to you know bar mitzvahs weddings and and everything and you know and they get birth announcements in their seating section has a baby. I mean it's just really. It's really a beautiful thing. And it's an extends over over decades man. That's going to be so so great to see all of those people again now. Let's let's turn the focus to the team on the field. I know this is not your purview. That's of course in the the baseball operations people but so far. What are your impressions of the team. Is somebody who watches every game and And runs the whole shebang. Yeah well. I think we're pleased with the direction we're going you know. It's it's been a situation where we're trying to create a trajectory where As as some of the younger players that are going to be in the minor leagues this year or early start in the minor leagues as they develop were able to Stay competitive if the major league level and that's a that's something that's that's tricky Winning in developing but it's also We think with four hundred scott and gabe. It's also doable. So we wanted to be really competitive. Were right now as we speak with five hundred Beat the padres last night. We think that We have some really good. I play one year contracts on players and we also have some players who've been around awhile. Ooh have that there They've got a lot left in the tank whether it's Other longoria buster posey. And so i think it's that mix with the younger players that are going to be coming and some of the younger players who are here now. you know in the outfield with yeah's and dickerson and solano. So i mean it's it's an interesting mix and we think it's it's it is also a a team of good personalities right and you've got to know some of them. And by the way welcome to the giants. I just said that at the beginning where we're thrilled to have you You with us You know going for gold sleep for many many years. Giants beat writers by the way don't tend to come and go now around for decades the plan. That's that's that's like a play and talk to my boss. I guess the other thing. Susan is i i do. Think that The systems have been put in place as it relates to instruction idea. It's pretty noticeable that the that the improvement in the in the offensive statistics and the offensive approach through the hitting coaches through gabe. In through the folks that have been working with our position players You know that was noticeable last year and it seems to be picking up had four games. I don't wanna make too much out of four games but it it that peers to be picking up Where we left off last year and you know if there was ever a hallmark of the giants through the years long term. It's been you know a power hitting team if you go back to basin mccovey and bonds etc and Right now as we said. I believe we are tied for the major league. Lead in home runs. Yes that sounds that sounds right. I mean evan longoria. All by himself. I think practically so that i only make too much out of four games. But i think it's gonna be exciting and i also you know the we're going to be you know. We're we're versatile approach where If something isn't working or adjusting to be made in the middle of the season I think you've seen that far on and and scott or willing to do to do that and you know we're not you know we have some bumps on the road as you saw. We did last year. We'll we'll we'll adjust as we go. We'll be back in just a moment with more giants. Ceo larry baer in just a moment but a reminder you can find all our giants coverage and the rest of our baseball coverage at sf chronicle dot com to subscribe you can go to sf chronicle dot com slash pod. I'm wine critic esther moberly i'd love it if you join me for virtual tasting of the gold medal winners from the san francisco. Chronicle wine competition will meet award-winning winemakers taste few of my personal favorites from the six thousand entries from all over north america join me on april fifteenth by registering at sf chronicle dot com slash membership. You mentioned sort of the fact that your team is really getting this reputation for a kind of cutting edge data and a coaching staff that it can apply it obviously on the pitching side. That's the case too. I think you guys are attracting free agents. Who feel like it's good. Landing spot for bounceback seasons. Obviously gausmann last year in smiley. Now desclafani aaron sanchez. Guys like that. What are your impressions on. Kind of how how. That is all coming together especially with this. Very big very young coaching staff but Kinda right you know right in the mix with all the advanced technology and data yeah. That's that's a really good question. Because i think that where we are now in baseball it used to be sort of on the analytic side. It was drafted in the advantage. The competitive advantage was on hugh draft. Or how you evaluated. And now it's really become sort of the rio. Ground of competition is the ability to develop or the they'll the ability to take to take a picture or a position player and develop them in the minor leagues or actually help them in real time in the major leagues. And that's where the competitive advantages if you if you can do it and and we really feel good about The coaches on both sides of of of the ball. I didn't want to just you know. Highlight are hitting coaches. Are pitching coaches. Have been terrific. Any kevin guzman had a breakout year last year and quick i start this year And i just got finally we. We feel as somebody in that category. That has the ability to to really emerge and had a really good outing last night In san diego so we that's a. That's something that i think you know. All the teams are focused on that. You have to have the right folks to do it and we re really confident in the in the coaching staff. We have and with real. The by the fact that the coaching staff came back in total last year so there was one actually one one got recruited away but Pretty much twelve hundred thirteen. It's not that that's pretty. Get thirteen a lot but yeah it's a it's actually very impressive in there also young. It's sort of annoying except for exit invested. So they have to. have you know really good coaching. That's a strong investment for for the future. You can't have too much Too much knowledge no for sure now do business. Executives have favorite players. Do not like to play favorites. I mean you could cheating say mace. Do you do find yourself with you. Know kinda rooting for your rooting for all of them. Obviously but do you have favorites. I it's it's because you you develop relationships with the players through the years. Although i have to say when in the cove it last year and this year You know it's the the interaction is really confined to texts and emails and phone calls on so you know it's interesting. My favorites tend to be Not necessarily the superstars but the but the but the guys that go all out and And and really give everything so on the field so You know i. It's not expensive anybody else but I would say like somebody is a favourite because they did get to spend some time with him before Spring training was was curtailed last year. And actually when when he came over to the giants the year before and a trade is Dupond debone He's he's just such as let's love his story. You know from honduras which is which is. I the very very few players if any had ever come from endurance goes to sacramento is a Is you'll reveres brandon crawford in Growing up in sacramento. Because he played his position and saw the giants win championships with with craw at shortstop. And then And and even though Dubious is playing center field. Now which is great. His turned in to You know really good Center fielder his shortstop second base. Where was his position before. And it just. It's a great story. It's kind of like almost a You know a turn. Back the clock story to brandon crawford holding up the sign as a four year old with his dad at the games following the giants and saying save. Save my giants back in the nineties when the giants almost moved so I love the human interest stories in the way that you can sort of circle back. So those are the stories like the gravitate to and the people But you know there's so many other great folks. I mean buster and kristen posey and what they've done in conjunction with the giants organization and on their own with their own initiatives around Childhood cancer pediatric cancer You know he'll always have a special place in in our hearts for for the person he is as well as the as well as You know obviously the hall of famer. The is yeah and man. He looks rejuvenated this year. Ian longoria both that's Which is so great so great to see because i think when you see teams that do well. They often are balance you know. It's not usually an all veteran team is not usually an all young team. It's the teams that kind of get there at the end Tended to have that mix and you know and then you can also add to that mix. I know a lot of times. We did this with when we have fairly young teams fighting for the playoffs. You know whether it's adding a pat burrow or hundred pence mark scooter l. in the middle. So you can you know the team. Is you know susan. The team you start out with an april is very rarely team that you end up with if you're in a pennant race in september So you can add to that. Yeah now One thing. That is your purview. Being on the business side is Things that do deal with ownership and players in the union and all of that One thing that sort of looming. After this season i think you know where i'm going and it might be a little bit contentious after there were some contentiousness last year in developing all the protocols and again this year with the expanded playoffs in the d. h. conversations but the cba. What are your thoughts on on the next year. Cba and You know how how much of an issue might be or you feeling pretty optimistic about what i. It's hard to to lay odds. I've we've been through since i've been with the giants. Now he's been through four or five. Cba's and there's always at this time when you're a year out there's always the the sort of gathering the information coming up with the strategy and that's the stage were in doubt so i can't really handicap at what i would say is that You know while. They're their differences. I think we there's a lotta commitment from the owner side to you know to to have a system that works for everyone. I think there's commitment from the players side. And i'm optimistic that we'll we'll get there. It's not to be faster easy. But i'm optimistic that we'll get there and and Keep the game on the field for the for the fans. What about Universal d. h. Expanded playoffs i. Is it still possible at all this year. Or is that something. You think factor. I think you know. They're all tied to rule changes. We'll be titled cpa because the players as they should have you know. Have input on that. I think the one thing was clear. From last year and these were coded necessitated changes to the rules but also allowed us to experiment things like the extra enrolling with around second base and we hit already introduced the three batta rule. And even the seventy seven inning doubleheader second cable doubleheader Some of those were were well received by the fans. And so we're also you know to allow us to do some research and and sample fan opinion on some of those rules. So i think they'll be. They'll be a rules that will Discusses by the collective agreement and see where the players heads are. And see if you know just all in interested to make the game better a universal d. h. Same thing You know we haven't had a rule changes in baseball really If you go through the the other sports your basketball with the three point line and then f. l. with protecting the quarterback and baseball. It's been pretty much other than the original gauge in the american league. That goes way back into the nineties. this was Or before that even You know baseball has an rule changes so you know to tweak to make the game better for the fans I think is in everyone's interest. Yeah now and other area in which you wind up getting involved in everyone in ownership now kind of winds up getting involved as politics have kind of come into the game. Every sport at every level as the recent moving to the all star game showed And the giants have a couple of times had to address some issues with one of your principal owners. Charles johnson who a kind of step back a little bit at this point To various different political organizations. What what did you think of the way that the team handled that team stance on some of those things and are you concerned about this being an issue in the future. Well i think they look. The giants have always stood in the community for you know for on issues that are important to the community. I i go back to early nineties. When we took a stance on on aids and gay rights et cetera. Where and that wasn't something that the federal sports teams had done. So we don't we certainly don't shy away from it I think we also have to recognize though that you know people come to ball games to to enjoy an experience that maybe gets away from politics too. So you know if there's an issue in our community that's important. I know you know in the wake of nine eleven and not all issues that all sort of issues that are on our minds are necessarily controversial. Right so i remember in the wake of nine. Eleven people to the ballpark and you know when there was just a coming together. A communal spirit that You know that we were grateful to be. Americans grateful to be together and Y'all and and i was pretty scared In the days after nine eleven. So so we we look at. The ballpark is at town center. And as a as a place where people can come together and and enjoy a sense of community. We had a We've had for twenty years. We've worked with the With community leaders on violence prevention issues. you know the late to You know to Gun control and other things. So i think that you know. There's there's a role for the place ford and it doesn't have to be you know sort of a hard core hardscrabble politics either yeah Well let's let's switch back to our original topic. Which is the most fun the home opener. Friday what are you most looking forward to. At the ballpark. I'm most looking forward to the recapturing that feeling susan of of just he'll beginnings that opening day brings and this is times ten th the normal opening day. Because it's a it's not just over the winter is over and they whether getting nice and here comes spring and summer but this is a year of of of a really tough challenges in a community where most of us were if we could You know housebound or or you know. And some were worth some folks who are working in dangerous and risky conditions so what. I am looking for for two on friday as really a sort of rejoicing. All of that with all of that in rejoicing the and kind of reflecting on what where we've come as a community and and the fact that through a lot of us really you know vericose from human effort You know in in Healthcare workers and food service workers and in the pharmaceutical companies delivering vaccines way. Faster than anybody thought that That were were. you know. We've we've we're getting there. And i just a lot of gratitude and being able. Even though i can't hug strangers i can only hope people in my pod I'm gonna do virtual hug shoots. I do personal. Hugs to eighty nine hundred people. That sounds like a plan and garlic fries. I think that's probably that might be where. I had vigorous fries. And it's you know what's great is not just eating garlic fries. It's the smell. The guard become like the baseball smell. At least san francisco. I sure yeah. I can't wait. Larry baer thanks so much for joining us on the giants splash and looking forward to a very fun. I home stand for the giants. Thanks so much. Susan and Welcome again to the beat. And it's great to have you and i'm to our fans. It's just wonderful to have you back at the ballpark. Look forward to seeing you. Not friday as we go through game here in In the beginning of the season be blast. Thanks thanks so much for listening to the giant splash. Podcast our producers. Today for g allen. Johnson and king kaufman. We will be back again next week. With more giant splash in the nineteen seventies. The gay bars of san francisco killer hidden in plain sight lured his victims by drawing their portrait. And when he had them alone he'd unleashes fatal rage. They called tuba. I'm kevin fagan. I've been at the san francisco chronicle for twenty eight years. I've covered serial killers from coast to coast and this duper case. Really bothers me. The most prolific killer of gay men and modern history is still walking free here the untold story of the dealer. Wherever you get your podcast.