Some people just don’t get it.
I was supposed to be in Salt Lake City this weekend to cover the four-game opening series April 11-14 between the Salt Lake Bees and the Portland Beavers. The Bees were going to get four days of free publicity, and you were going to get four days of video footage showing you Nick Adenhart, Brandon Wood, Nick Green, Matt Brown, Terry Evans, and all the other Angels minor leaguers.
But thanks to the unprofessionalism of Bees management, that trip has been cancelled, costing me $275 in non-refundable plane fare.
I called the new media relations staffer about two months ago to introduce myself, explain what I do, and tell her about the long history I’ve had since 2001 helping out the Bees (known as the Stingers from 2001-2005). I’ve shot photos for them, written articles for their game programs, helped local press with media content, and given the Bees lots of free publicity.
Without monetary compensation.
All I ever got in return was a media credential and an understanding that reprints of the photos would be available through my web site. Most of the photos — probably over 90% — are purchased by the players, their parents and their loved ones. It was understood this is for the general benefit of everyone — the team, the players, and their families. I also performed an archival service for the teams; staff may come and go, but I was protecting their history by storing photos independently. I did it all for free, knowing that I’d never come close to recovering my expenses.
This is the model I’ve practiced with all the Angels affiliates since 1998, when I began shooting photos for Lake Elsinore. Most minor league operations don’t have the money to pay a team photographer, so they’re more than happy someone is willing to do it for free in exchange for looking the other way on a license. In ten years of FutureAngels.com operation, it’s never been an issue.
I was informed today by e-mail, three days before my flight, that they’ve changed their minds and I won’t be issued a credential after all.
Mind you, I was told two months ago I could come shoot. I double-checked a month ago, before I ordered my plane tickets, to reaffirm I could come shoot. Both times I was told yes.
But now I’m told I won’t be allowed to shoot because only the staff photographer is allowed to shoot at Franklin Covey Field. I won’t be credentialed because my photos might be for sale, which is the worst kept secret in eight seasons I’ve been working with Salt Lake.
To add insult to the injury my pocketbook just took, I was told that for my trouble they’d leave a free ticket for me to sit in the stands at each game. But I won’t be allowed to shoot photos.
Yeah, right, as if I’m going to spend $500 between plane fare and hotel and rental car to sit in the cheap seats at Franklin Covey twiddling my thumbs for four days.
I pointed out that two of my photos were currently on the Bees’ home page, including the feature story about last night’s game at Tucson, more evidence that they benefitted from my work. They removed the photos rather than acknowledge that mutual benefit.
Part of the problem, I think, is that Bees’ management doesn’t understand how minor league baseball works.
The Bees are owned by Larry H. Miller, who also owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz. When he bought the team in 2005, some of the front office staff were let go. Some of the survivors were transferred to the Jazz’ front office. In fact, the Bees are pretty much run out of the Delta Center, where the Jazz operate, instead of Franklin Covey Field. The media staffer’s e-mail address is utahjazz.com, not slbees.com.
In the Salt Lake City sports pecking order, the Bees seem to be way down the list below the Jazz, BYU football, and the professional soccer team Real Salt Lake. I don’t live there, but my aneecdotal impression is that the Bees are an afterthought for the Jazz staff and with the local press. The Salt Lake Deseret Morning News doesn’t even have a Bees link on its Sports menu. To be fair, though, locals have told me the Jazz have helped raise the Bees’ visibility with crossover promotions, and Larry H. Miller is one of the most prominent businessmen in Salt Lake City.
But minor league baseball teams are not NBA teams. If you’re low on that pecking order, you shouldn’t be alienating the few people who are willing to help publicize your product, especially when they do it for free.
Apparently Bees ownership doesn’t see it that way. Maybe they think that if they act like they’re big league, that makes them big league.
But today’s duplicity shows they’re just bush league.