Wins, Not Petitions, Will Bring Fans Back to the New York Mets
The New York Mets sent out an awkward email to their fans asking them for their support. It’s in the form of a petition asking Mets fans to be “True New Yorkers” by rooting for the Mets. Below the body of the letter are the signatures of Mets legends Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman, Ed Charles, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Dwight Gooden. The letter comes off sounding like a desperate attempt to bring fans back to Citi Field, which has been fairly empty so far in 2014.
The letter is written in the first person, ostensibly in the voice of players who signed off on it. The theme is that the 1969 and 1986 teams couldn’t have won their championships without the support of the fans. Now, the letter urges, fans should give that same support to the Mets this year. There’s really nothing wrong in asking for fan support, and fans want to believe that they can influence the outcome on the field. But in the context of recent history — the collapses of 2007 and 2008, and the string of losing seasons that followed — it makes the Mets look amateur.
Mets fans can and will show up at the ballpark if the Mets also bring something to the table. That something is simply winning baseball. They can honor their history more, bring up the hot, young pitching prospects and put them on display, and make the park more fan-friendly, but ultimately, that’s not what brings fans to the ballpark.
History is nice, but when you only have two championship teams to honor, it gets old after a while. All fans, young and old, want the Mets to make some new memories. Prospects are exciting. It’s always fun to watch their development, but what if they’re not ready for The Show? That experience wouldn’t be any fun for the fans, and it might be harmful to their careers (see: Tim Leary). And like most new ballparks, Citi Field is already fan-friendly. The fan experience there is leaps and bounds above that of old Shea Stadium. Unfortunately, so are the ticket prices.
Owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, along with Saul Katz, have alienated their fan base by making poor financial decisions (not the least of which was dealing with Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff), and not being forthright about them.
But really, none of that matters, either. There is one bottom line, one way to get fans back to the ballpark, and it doesn’t matter how it’s achieved. Whether it’s through free agent signings, trades, or cultivation of their promising young talent, the Mets have to win ballgames.