Chatting with the Prez

When Derrick Hall took over as president of the Arizona Diamondbacks at the conclusion of the 2006 season it ushered in a new chapter in team history and opened the door to an unprecedented level of communications between the team and its fan base. I always found former president Rich Dozier very open and willing to listen to the fans but compared to the policies and lines of communications implemented by Derrick the difference is night and day. I have had the opportunity to test the openness and willingness the front office to communicate on many occasions. Whether it is a letter, phone call, or email I can always rest assured that I will receive a timely response to my question no matter how trivial it may be. This open communication has been very important to me and is one of the reasons why I am so loyal to this team. The way Derrick and his staff always put the fan experience first lets me know that the Arizona Diamondbacks are indeed the most fan-friendly team in baseball.

One of the more interesting communication tools that Derrick Hall has implemented is his monthly on-line chats with the fans. Typically on the first Thursday of each month Derrick sets aside a block of time where he will go online at the Diamondbacks web site and field questions from the fans about whatever subject they may have on their mind. These chats are always interesting and many times entertaining. It is always fascinating to see the types of questions that come up from the fans. In many cases the questions are focused on player development and the on-field talent. These are not normally questions that are the domain of the president of the team but Derrick does his best to listen to the questions and answer as best he can.

Now that his role has changed and he added the additional responsibilities of being the Chief Executive Officer as well as the President I wondered whether these monthly chats would continue. It was a silly question when I thought about it. After all there is no way Derrick would suddenly not have time for the fans. This has of course proven correct, he still takes time away from his schedule to meet with the fans on-line and listen to what they have to say.

Today was the May chat and I was eagerly awaiting this installment. Given all of the turmoil that has surrounded this team this season and with the events that took place before the current home stand I could hardly wait to hear what the fans would say and how Derrick would handle the questions.

Needless to say most of the questions thrown at him today were on the subject of AJ Hinch and the managerial change. Based on his answers it is clear that the organization from the top down is placing a lot of trust in AJ and his leadership skills. It was also clear that this hiring and the subsequent events that will take place as a result will be a direct reflection on General Manager Josh Byrnes. I got the impression from reading the questions and responses that the notion of accountability did not only pertain to the players but to every member of the front office or for that matter every member of the organization from the concessionaire to the CEO.

There was an undertow of frustration in both the questions and answers that were given that showed that the ownership of the Diamondbacks were at least if not more frustrated with the current state of affairs than the fans were. They seem to be as baffled as everyone else as to why this team is underachieving. Everyone is hopeful that the team will be able to find a way to break out of the funk they find themselves going through. I came away from this chat today with the feeling that the changes we are seeing are far from over and that the organization is doing whatever it can to find a solution to turn this team around and give them the opportunity to win and reach the playoffs. The window of opportunity for making a run at the playoffs in 2009 is quickly closing but I did not get the sense that the team was panicking just yet. I am not sure I would be able to make the same statement if the team continues this path to the All-Star break. Hopefully things will turn around and by next month’s chat the fans are eager to talk to Derrick Hall about the extended winning streak the Diamondbacks find themselves celebrating.

1 Comment

  1. Well said. Troubles aside, I think that we are very lucky to have Derrick Hall here. I love the feeling that I get when I go to the stadium and the staff greets you. I hope that the team turns around as well and would agree that it is more fun to watch our team win but I really enjoy going out to the park when I can regardless. I am sure that you would agree that there is more to the full 9 than the box scores will tell you, just like there is more going on behind the scenes (in private) than a great leader will tell you.

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