Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tim Mead Vice Pres. of Media Relations with Chuck Richter of Angelswin.com

Sept 20th, 2006
Interview conducted by: Chuck Richter

Get to know one of the more respected men in the organization.

Tim Mead has been the vice president of communications for the past seven years, previously holding positions as assistant general manager, vice president of media relations and assistant vice president of media relations. As director of media relations, he was awarded the Los Angeles/Anaheim Chapter "Good Guy" Award in 1985 and 1990. In 2000, he received the Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence in Major League Baseball. He became the 20th recipient of the award in his 20th season with the Angels. In the process, Mead had his name placed on a plaque with previous winners in baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

I had a chance to interview Tim Mead and ask him some questions that are on the lighter side, but also those tough questions that our staff from Angelswin has emailed or posted on our Message Board in the last couple weeks. So, with no further ado, here's the interview from not only one of the more respected men in the Angels organization and community, but also a friend of mine, an Angels fan just like you and me.

The lighter side of Tim Mead

Q: Angelswin.com – What a thrill it must be to have 25-plus years service with the Angels organization. You’re a respected man in the industry, providing quality coverage, information about the Angels to both the media and fans abroad. Tell us a little bit about your time and journey with the Angels over the last 25 or so years.

A: Tim Mead – I never consider a day with the Angels as work. I’ve been both blessed and fortunate with this work. There are a lot of people, players who taught me early on that I have so much respect for today.

Being with this organization has not just been a job, but the journey has been a long road. The evolution in adulthood, from 22 to 48. I’ve watched death through this organization. The longer you’re someplace the more it becomes a part of your life.

I was with Rod Carew and his daughter when she died of cancer, spent the last remaining moments with Jimmy Reese until he took his last breath on this earth. In 1994, I spent the night in the hospital with Mark Leiter’s wife, when their 9-month-old son died from the Lou Gehrig’s disease. We talked about God, talked about life and comforted each other during this painful time. Our secretary for many years passed away last year, I was there with her until the end. I met Jason Morrow before he was to head out to the Iraq war for the 3rd time and he gave me an Angels scrap book that I'll cherish my entire life. He was killed in the Iraq war in that third call to duty.

The game within the game has had a profound effect on me. I’ve watched the beauty of it all. I owe Baseball everything, Baseball owes me nothing, we are just caretakers for an absolute priceless establishment. I hope I can walk out on my own terms and I hope they can say "he bled for the Angels" when I leave. That’s my hope. In the end, that’s all I really care about.

I know how hard people have worked, even in some of the failures or disappointments. I witnessed hard working men and women within the organization that gave it their all and I have the utmost respect for them.

I wish people would put sports into perspective, the role that it has in its community, the people in the organization, the players that have made an impact in a positive way behind the scenes -- so much goes unseen. I’m proud of the people I work with and they care.

Q: Angelswin.com – What has been the most exciting or memorable press conference that you’ve been a part of?

A: Tim Mead – In terms of size and magnitude, Reggie Jackson’s. That press conference was incredible in terms of sheer numbers of media, people present. A star from the east coast came west and it was huge. Jim Abbott’s comes to mind. It was special and unique. The amount of people there in his first start vs. the Yankees, the Japanese, the media there was intense. Of course, the Vladimir Guerrero press conference was huge as well.

There have been tough ones as well, when your friends or players in the organization leave via a trade or are released. In preparation of the press conference ahead when we traded Jim Abbott to the Yankees for JT Snow/Russ Springer, before I left my house I let out a primal scream in my room. Those hurt and cut to the core. So many people have a perception of this being a business, but the emotions attached get lost. There are a lot of tough and hurtful press conferences, too.

Q: Angelswin.com – Now, I know you can’t play favorites, as I’m sure you’ve made many friends over the years with ex- or current Angels, but who is one player that you regard as your favorite all-time Angels player, both on what he did on the field and how he was off the field?

A: Tim Mead – Jim Abbott and Chuck Finley. Chuck was the ultimate company man. He did things away from the ballpark, in the community, and what he meant to his teammates and those in the organization was self explanatory. Abbott, what else can you say? He's a close friend and incredible human being. Percy is a dear friend to this day. I’ve always judged people as people, not ballplayers. Reggie was a good man to me and my staff early on. Mark Langston, one of the best. It’s not always the names though, it’s the Mickey Keller's, Orlando Palmeiro's -- once an Angel, always an Angel to me.

Q: Angelswin.com – What was the most dominant performance you’ve seen by an Angels player, both offensively and on the mound?

A: Tim Mead – Wally Joyner’s first half in 1986. In 2000, with four guys with 30 or more home runs. Vladimir Guerrero’s September of 2004 was dominating. He carried the team on his back, wow.

On the mound, I got to see three of the best relievers of our time in Harvey, Percival and K-Rod with dominating performances. The 18, 19, 18 wins from Abbott, Finley, Langston in 1991 was special.

Q: Angelswin.com – Tim, I know there are many incredible memories you must cherish with the Angels over the years, but what stands out as being the greatest moment in "Angels Baseball" that you’ve witnessed over the last 25-plus years?

A: Tim Mead – The moment of Kenny Lofton’s fly ball to Darin Erstad. You can’t recreate that moment in the greatest moments in Hollywood. Once you’ve been to the show and won the show, nobody can say you haven’t.

The Grill
The tough questions that I get asked a lot by fans, regulars from our message board or topics that our staff and I discuss on a daily basis.

Q: Angelswin.com – What future media plans do the Angels currently have on the table for 2007? What about all games in HD? What about these media package issues for 2007 -- and what do they plan to do with their over the air situation, perhaps a Halos cable network? What about an on demand channel like the Dodgers were working on/have? Is that why they are limiting reselling of season tickets?

A: Tim Mead – Arte is a visionary, and Arte wants what is best for the club long-term. We have a 10-year deal with Fox. HD is not on the horizon, but it’s on the board and in discussions. As far as On Demand, we’re going to see what we have control over and what we don’t, but we’re going to move forward in that direction.

Q: Angelswin.com – Is there any chance of getting the flagship radio station back to a 50,000-watt station that can be heard through S. Cal region? Any plans to move to 830 permanently?

A: Tim Mead – Right now, it’s a bilingual station, AM 830 that is. We have one year left with 710 AM that will run through 2007. They’ve been good to us and we have a good working relationship with them. It will be a mutual consent if we decide to go in another direction.

Q: Angelswin.com – Can you explain any changes for season ticket holders going into the 2007 season. Nobody is getting rich off the Ticket Exchange and many nights there are 1500-plus tickets, all at face value, left unpurchased.

A: Tim Mead – The reality of it is there is a problem with the 20-30 percent of no-shows in the RF pavilion. We want to put fans in the seats where there are none. The supply is there, but we want to more equitably supply the demand as well. This is an exercise and adjustment period. We’ll see if it works.

Q: Angelswin.com – Are the Angels going to get involved with the youth of the community renewing interest in baseball. Local kids are drawn to extreme sports, football, and basketball; we're not seeing the kind of major league prospects coming out of the L.A. area we used to, Strawberry, Davis, etc. It's great to mine the Dominican and Puerto Rico, but charity begins at home. Where's the money being spent here? I believe there is some sort of kids training facility in Compton. It makes sense to put some good will into the local community.

A: Tim Mead – Arte has committed more than a half million dollars to the community (Boys and Girls club and the Compton academy, Baseball Camp in the inner city). We do a lot in the community. Our last two first-round picks were locals as well (Trevor Bell & Hank Conger).

Q: Angelswin.com – Are the Angels happy with Steve Physioc as the primary voice of the Angels for telecasts? Despite contracts given out to announcers, can those contracts be revoked based on quality, reviews or what us the fans think, since we’re the ones listening?

A: Tim Mead – There is room for improvement in my job, there is room for improvement in Bill’s job, so there is also room for improvement in our announcer’s jobs. As a broadcaster, he constantly tries to better his game as well. He works very hard. The TV guys are dedicated to this organization and they’ve worked very hard, especially in the community.

Look, we’ve all had a bad day at the office, but can you imagine if you had someone always there to criticize you for every thing you’ve done wrong on those bad days? I see the work of these guys. They live and breath Angels -- they’re fans, too.

Q: Angelswin.com – Will the Angels go after a major F/A bat in the off-season, the bat that seemed to be missing this year.....The lack of protection for Vladimir Guerrero seems to be a major concern.

A: Tim Mead – Suffice to say, our offense has been inconsistent the last 3 years despite the making the playoffs two out of the last 3 years. The bat would have helped this year, though you can argue Kendrick and Rivera became a bat this year, but our defense really hurt this club this year. A bat is going to be our focal point in the offseason. We went after Konerko in the offseason and went after Lee, Tejada and Soriano at the trade deadline and fell short in a deal.

Frustration should be if you don’t try, but Stoneman did try. Who made a difference that was traded at the deadline? Abreu? Maybe, but the Yankees were already solid offensively, Maddox, he helped the Dodgers rotation, but after that who else? I can’t think of anyone that made a deal that turned their pennant run around besides the Dodgers.

We could have signed Frank Thomas -- the A’s gambled and won -- but we’ve been down that road with the Eddie Murrays of free agency before.

Q: Angelswin.com – There has been very little production from the corner infield positions since we had Mo Vaughn & Troy Glaus pla ying 1B and 3B respectively some years ago. How much do Scioscia and Stoneman consider that if you’re not getting power from SS/2B & CF that getting it from the 1B & 3B positions is crucial?

A: Tim Mead – We have to get production from the 1B and 3B positions, it’s a must. Vlad needs protection. Arte realizes the need from the corner spots, it will be a focal point in the offseason to improve.

Q: Angelswin.com – Do the Halos expect Colon to be back healthy in 2007 and return to form? If not, what plans are there to shore up the rotation?

A: Tim Mead – The rotation right now has worked out. In the offseason, Bartolo’s going to go into an extensive offseason program, but we have to approach 2007 and Bartolo with hope. You can’t definitively say he has a role or spot. Cautiously optimistic. You can’t conduct your business in the offseason hoping someone is back healthy.

Q: Angelswin.com – Will the Halos addressed the pen depth issue during the offseason? Romero was a disappointment and we need to turn to someone other than Shields & K-Rod on occasion.

A: Tim Mead – BP has been our strength for 3 years now, but we’re going to move forward and improve, you have to pay attention to the pen. You can only ride K-Rod and Shields so far. We’ll look at that bullpen in the offseason and fix the cracks.

Q: Angelswin.com – Why do Stoneman and Scioscia feel comfortable with four hitters in the lineup who you could qualify as No. 2-type hitters. Cabrera, Kennedy, Izturis, Figgins. Example: Why sit Quinlan, play Kendrick out of position while Kennedy still plays? That's not putting your best options on the field.

A: Tim Mead – The lack of depth in the organization and injuries to Dallas and Casey forced Mike to come to this. There are only so many possibilities to do things with other clubs as well. It‘s not as easy as it seems to make a trade, especially early on when Kotchman and McPherson went down.

Q: Angelswin.com – Is the catching position locked up for Napoli or does Jeff Mathis still have a chance to overtake Mike's job behind the dish?

A: Tim Mead – No, not at all. Depending on what can be done in the offseason, looking outside of the organization, those three will come into camp and compete for the Nos. 1 and 2 jobs. Nobody has asserted himself as the No. 1 catcher to this point. The position is wide open!

Q: Angelswin.com – On the heels of that question, who ultimately decides the kind of players and lineup that’s assembled? Is it Scioscia or Stoneman? It appears as if Stoneman acquires players that fit into Scioscia’s National League style of "Small Ball," rather than doing what seems obvious or what has been missing the last couple years. And that is acquiring some power hitters to help protect Vladimir Guerrero. Are "action" players what the team wants instead of boppers?

A: Tim Mead – Bill acquires the players, but after meeting with scouts, the manager and coaches -- he wants their input -- it’s not what Bill thinks is best, it’s what our entire staff agrees on.

Bill has to deal with contracts, options and the money. The scouts and Mike, along with his coaching staff, have to deal with talent.

Yes, action players, we want to do things, not sit back and wait for the three-run homer.

Like Troy Glaus, he was a bopper, but he can also do things. We‘re going to look at those types. The lack of plate patience is going to be addressed. It is addressed on a daily basis already. The players are not getting it done. There will be changes in the offseason.

Q: Angelswin.com – How does the coaching staff and management plan on fixing the defense?

A: Tim Mead – They’re going to figure it out -- analyze in the offseason, look at video. How do you work with Rivera and Vladdy to fix the clanks they had in the OF? Is it a lack of focus? This is a much better defensive club than what was demonstrated this year. People talk about Soriano and Lee -- do you want them in the OF? Carlos Lee has made some crit ical errors this year in LF, especially with the Rangers after they acquired him.

Nobody is more upset, frustrated over the defensive play this year than Scioscia, our coaching staff and the entire organization. With the way our pitching has been this year, if only our defense was as good as we know it could be we’d be in a more comfortable position than we are now for a third-consecutive postseason berth. It will be addressed in the offseason.

Q: Angelswin.com – Many of us fans scratch our heads as to why Mickey Hatcher isn’t held responsible for what has been an awful display of "coaching" from a hitting standpoint over the last couple years. I speak for our entire staff and group of fans with Angelswin.com. I know you can’t comment on player or coach employment status, but our question is this: Is a hitting or fielding coach held accountable when examining the overall offense and defensive performance in the offseason?

A: Tim Mead – The second guessing of the manager or coach is failure of the player. My son graduated from his classes with a 3.6, but he failed in one of his classes from one teacher. How often as parents do we blame the teacher for our kid’s failure that he or she may have in this one class, while some other kids do very well? The hitting consistency has not been there this year. The failure to lay down a bunt or make a productive out has been missing as well, though almost the same group did this very well in recent years under Mickey‘s coaching.

Mickey takes a great sense of pride in the offense, his success and failures. Nobody gave Mickey a ton of credit after what he did with the offense in 2002. He works very hard with our hitters.

Q: Angelswin.com – We’re not so sure Chone Figgins is the long term answer as our leadoff man or Orlando Cabrera as the No. 3 hitter. Is there anyone on the club that has a secured starting job (offensively) outside of Vladimir Guerrero going into the 2007 season?

A: Tim Mead – Chone has not been consistent overall this year, but after the last two productive seasons who knew he’d struggle the way he has this year? It’s wide open as far as the starting CF job. We didn’t get it done in 2001, but we made changes in the offseason and got it done in 2002. We didn’t get it done in 2003, but we made adjustments in the offseason and made the playoffs two straight years before this year.

Vlad will be penciled in RF, and you’d have to think Rivera will be in LF with GA at DH. Kendrick should be at 2B and Orlando Cabrera at SS. After that, it’s wide open. There will be moves made, improvements.

Q: Angelswin.com – When Scioscia mentions in the OC Register and LA Times that 2B isn’t necessarily Kendrick’s position in 2007, he isn’t insinuating that he’s going to move Kendrick around like he does Figgins is he? Kendrick needs to play one position and that position is 2B. We believe that part of our defensive woes this year is the fact that a lot of players are playing out of position.

A: Tim Mead – You can’t lock it in yet, what his position will be, but he will not be a Chone Figgins, utility-type player, so no. Obviously, he’s a 2B for now, and we‘d like to see him there.

Q: Angelswin.com – Would the Angels consider bringing Tim Salmon back as some type of coach if he retires this year? We would all love to see him as the Angels future hitting coach.

A: Tim Mead – He’s going to need the time with his family, I think. Tim’s future in Baseball will be behind the mic. He’s got four kids and he’s focused on putting time into the family after he shuts it down. When momma has you home after you’ve been gone for a lengthy career in Baseball, well there is some catching up to do.

Q: Angelswin.com – Will the Angels hitting philosophy change in the offseason? This team is lacking hitters that can get on base, draw walks, especially at the top of the lineup.

A: Tim Mead – Let’s see who the players are. We want the best balanced team that we can put together. That’s the philosophy.

Obviously the offense, there is dissatisfaction with the offense and it will be improved. I emphasize the word WILL.

Q: Angelswin.com – While the Angels aren’t mathematically out of it, this season has been a big disappointment. This must be frustrating for Arte Moreno to have a $100 million payroll that isn’t getting the job done consistently both on offense and defe nse. Will the glaring needs be looked at and fixed in the offseason or will the club just chalk this season up with the thought in mind that players had off years -- let’s give it another try next year with the same group?

A: Tim Mead – Arte wants to win. Arte and the organization want to win. Are we disappointed? Yes. If we’re not playing in October, we’re not happy. You constantly tinker with the roster if you can during the season, but here’s the thing: we won’t be elated, pounding our chests after drawing 3.4 million. We'll be pounding our chests after making it to the postseason. That is the goal, to win.

There will be turnover on this club. We‘re going to be a better overall team going into 2007. The offense will get better and we‘ll seal up the cracks that were present this year over the offseason. Arte is a fan. He wants to win just like you and all the fans that support this club.

*This concludes our interview with Tim Mead.
Love to hear what you think!

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