Foul Ball

General Manager Mike Feder May Be Out Of Work, But Sidewinders Owner Martin Stone Is Out Of His Mind.

By Tom Danehy

SUCH ARE THE woes of writing for a weekly publication: When long-time Tucson Toros/Sidewinders General Manager Mike Feder was fired last week, it happened on a Tuesday, just a couple hours before The Weekly is put to bed.

Danehy As it turned out, it was too late for that issue, plus I had to go see the sneak preview of The Mummy that night. Remember when somebody said, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute?" Well, after seeing The Mummy and The Matrix, the new mantra in Hollywood is "Millions for special effects, but only $1.75 for the script."

Meanwhile, this is what I've learned in the past week about the Feder fiasco:

  • Mike Feder is a great guy who is genuinely well-liked by thousands of people. We've got to keep him in town.

    I love Mike Feder. I've dealt with him many times over the years, and he's always been gracious, professional and friendly. He knew I didn't like baseball, but he was nice to me, anyway.

    Nonetheless, it was amazing to witness the outpouring of affection for Feder, and the shock and disdain with which his firing was met by the media and the public.

    The Citizen's Corky Simpson wrote a wonderfully impassioned piece about Feder, and the Star's Greg Hansen, while being slightly more even-handed, let it be known that 'Winders owner Martin Stone would need a serious sphincter muscle-relaxant if he ever again wanted his head to be out in the light of day.

  • My mother was right when she told me, "Being rich and being smart almost never have anything to do with each other."

    That's one of the big problems in business. Some dude has one good idea and/or gets lucky and makes some money, he thinks he knows it all. Instead, they're just setting themselves up as a prime example of the horizontal corollary to the Peter Principle: success in one area doesn't guarantee it in another.

  • It's long past time for somebody in local government to admit that they screwed up by putting that ballpark down there. I don't care how pretty it is; its location leaves a lot to be desired. As trite as it sounds, it's still a matter of location, location, location. And don't give me any gas about Yankee Stadium being in The Bronx. That's New York City, for cryin' out loud. Bronx, Manhattan...what's the difference? Please don't make me have to use the word "sphincter" twice in the same column.

    Is it too late to pick the whole TEP thing up and move it downtown next to the Carl's Jr.?

  • Alas, people will still show up to the ballpark even after Feder's gone. I went to Saturday's game, hoping to be among only a handful of people for Disco Night, but instead, there was a decent crowd. I'm not sure who was playing or who won, but the book I was reading was really cool.

    With all of this year's big promotions already in place, 1999 won't be a complete disaster for Stone. In fact, when the year is done, he'll look around and say, "Hey, you see, I didn't suck nearly as bad as everyone thought I would."

    The bad part is that with his son and other yes-people in positions of importance around there, nobody will tell him the truth. They need to do like the people in Good Morning, Vietnam, when the Bruno Kirby character, Lt. Houk, took over for Robin Williams. Soldiers were writing in to say, "Hey Houk, you suck! Eat a bag of shit!" and "Houk sucks the sweat off a dead man's (part of the body near the sphincter)."

  • Diamondbacks employee Craig Pletenik was quoted as saying, "That's a great stadium they're playing in, and you look at that market and there's 800,000 people there. That should be a prototype Triple-A market."

    Dude, step out of the clouds. When you were running the Phoenix Firebirds, you didn't draw that well in a metropolitan area of 3 million. It's not a simple matter of numbers. But if you want to focus on numbers, keep that 800,000 handy. That's what the Diamondbacks will be drawing in a couple years if you keep charging eight bucks for a hot dog.

  • The glut of spring-training games has a seriously negative effect on attendance at Sidewinders games. People are baseballed out by the time the season starts. There are lots of other factors--from Wildcats sports to Tucson being an active-lifestyle kind of town to weird weather--that will conspire to keep the attendance at minor-league baseball games in Tucson flat. And now with Stone having fired the best GM in America, "flat" is going to turn into "downward spiral."

    I know I'll never go out there again as long as Stone is running things. It's his money and he can throw it away any way he wants, but not with my help. Not even if he gets the Average White Band back together to sing backup to James Brown on Salute To Tom Danehy Night.

    Well, maybe then, but I'll bring along a "We Miss Mike Feder" sign, just so Stone knows I can be rented, but not bought.


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