The worst kept secret in Vancouver baseball has finally been confirmed, as Andy Dunn has put his John Hancock on an employment contract and settled in as the new (public) boss of the Vancouver Canadians.
Of course, this will be his second season at the helm, after he stepped in on a consulting basis last season when the Aileen McManamon experiment was shut down due to a lack of hot dogs, but ownership’s desire to keep their abrupt dismissal of the previous Team President out of the papers (and certain Immigration restrictions) meant Dunn stayed behind the scenes, didn’t put out any press conferences, and quietly lurked in the shadows making sure everything was ticketyboo, on and off the field.
From today’s piece by Lyndon Little in The Sun:
Dunn is already well versed in the running of the club. Introducedto the new owners by marketing guru Mike Veek, Dunn was employed by theclub as a consultant last summer. With the departure of McManamon, hetook on many of the de facto duties of a club president, but had tomaintain a low profile in order not to violate the terms of theconditional work permit with Immigration Canada.
"I had to becareful what I did," admitted Dunn, who is married with three childrenall under 10 who will join him in Vancouver once the school year isover in Florida.
"But I’m looking forward to being more visible to the public now."
So what comes next?
Firstly, celebration. This is a guy with baseball in his blood, who has run Major League stadium operations and farm systems, for several teams. He’s a guy who has the foresight to see what a success story the C’s could be with a little guidance, he’s a guy who clearly understands what a douchebag Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden is, and walked away from that outfit with his reputation solid and with several good people walking in his wake, and he’s someone who can shove his fingers into the dirt at second base and tell you if it needs watering.
Of course, he’s going to have a job in front of him to penetrate Vancouver’s terrible sporting press pages with any sort of consistency. Don Taylor doesn’t seem able to say the name "Vancouver Canadians" without shuddering for a second and blurting out "MARKUS NASLUND AND ROBERTO LUONGO!" to make up for it, but if there’s one thing that the Vancouver sporting public looks for more than anything else when deciding where to spend their dollars, it’s competency.
That’s why the Canucks didn’t draw for so many years. It’s why the Grizzlies were run out of town on a rail, and why the Vancouver Voodoo’s short life as a pro roller hockey team is still a running joke to this day. Give the people a solid product, good value for money, and a plan to grow both on and off the field (think Vancouver Giants and Vancouver Whitecaps) and they’ll show up in numbers.
In that respect, the Vancouver Canadians are on really solid ground. Especially now.
Again, from The Sun:
Dunn says he understands the challenges of operating a minor league baseball team in a major league market such as Vancouver.
"Iunderstand that Vancouver is a hockey town," he said. "What we want todo is make our team a premier summer attraction. Long after the scoreis forgotten, people remember the park experience. We want to creatememories. "
"We realize we’re now in somewhat of a uniquesituation," said Kerr’s partner Jeff Mooney, the executive chairman ofA&W Canada. "With the departure of the Ottawa Lynx, we’re now thelast minor league pro baseball team in the country with a major leagueaffiliation. We want to preserve the heritage of pro ball in Vancouverand build on it."
Welcome to the city, and welcome to the team, Andy Dunn. And may I be the first to apologize for the number of times both you and Delany Dunn will have to say "no relation" over the year ahead.
But hey, now that I’ve said all this nice stuff about you… can we have a stadium speed gun? Please?