METropolis; Year Nine A.D. - (After Doubleday)
If you are familiar with Head-Butting Mr. Met, or not, welcome to...
"The Age of WILPONianism"
and the continuing sagas of...
The Saul B. Katz Dilemma
...DUN, Dun, dunnnn!
State of METropolis Report
PART IV ~ THE FANS and TRADITION:
Ownership Toying With Our Tradition
and Trying Our Patience.
Vol 1. Sub; VIII-XII?
Vol 1. Sub; VIII-XII?
VIII. - BANNER DAY
After a fifteen year absence, Banner Day; an important and fond link to our past and tradition, and one which ties the Mets to an earlier era of baseball; is returning to
Banner Day; Shea Stadium - 1994
The reason why they discontinued the event in the first place was because the signs and banners were becoming increasingly "too negative" according to the team back then. After Met Fans suffered literal embarrassment due to acts committed by several team members between the years 1992 through 1995, and the overall woeful play that accompanied them as a whole, was it any wonder Fans increasingly used Banner Day as a venue to vent their frustrations? After all, the Internet wasn't the outlet it is today. It's a good thing too. Those years were literally like Delta House at Flushing University but in the most negative ways. So if there was anyone to blame for the air of negativity hanging over Flushing that needed to look themselves in the mirror first, there were two GM's during that time, a Team President, two adversarial partners, and a collective Front Office that was always bickering with each other, to choose from.
It also proves some things never change around here. Lest we forget the Wilpons banned newspapers from the clubhouse a few years ago so as to not have the players read negative press about themselves.
But dare I say the decision to bring back a tradition very unique to the Mets' organization should be applauded. Great move by the Wilpons! But really, let's be true to ourselves and say it was the least they could do. Let's keep this real. Because this falls right in line with a recent history of neglecting this team's past. While the decision to suspend Banner Day was made under the old regime of Doubleday and Wilpon, it was the beginning of a trend towards more neglectful decision making in the future regarding what Fans deemed important and treasured about their team.
Just for fun, might I remind you, then GM Al Harazin came so very close to receiving ownership's approval to officially change the dominant color scheme of our NY Met LOGO/patch to black. But ultimately ownership feared the repercussions. Yeah... I take great pride in our team logo. I believe it to be one of the finest in all sports. But I digress.
Back to the point; - The Mets' Hall of Fame was figuratively brushed aside by the Wilpons. Tommy Agee was the last inductee in 2002. Nelson Doubleday was still around for that one. Then since the full ownership of Fred Wilpon took effect, the doors were figuratively chained up till 2010. Finally, Gooden; Strawberry; Frank Cashen; and Davey Johnson gained their due enshrinement. Established in 1981 by this very ownership, they maintained a somewhat regular process of enshrinement for twenty years. But for the seven years sandwiched between 2002 and 2010, nary a word regarding the Mets Hall of Fame was ever spoken again.....until......
The grand-daddy of all mindless, neglectful, derelict, oversights and Fan insults occurred when the Wilpons swung open the doors to their neo-Ebbets Field without of course, the New York Mets' Hall of Fame anywhere within the building.
Want more? The original big red Home Run Apple, which grew on fans in the thirty plus years since it's debut at Shea Stadium, became symbolic of a very friendly place for Met Fans to come out and watch their team. But to begin the post-Shea era, our Apple was originally packed away out of view, down in a corner beyond the bullpens, and below the center field bridge at Citi Field, like an old Victrola player buried in your grandpa's basement.
Want more? How about not replacing the Met Championship and winning banners formerly in the right field corner of Shea Stadium. Those never found their way back to the walls of Citi Field in that first season. Did they? No. A slight omission? Sure, if you're being kind. But the fact remains it was another oversight in a growing pile of Metropolitan omissions. No Dodger or Jackie Robinson omissions; ...only Met omissions.
These four items of discussion share one common denominator. The fact that the New York Mets Hall of Fame has since opened it's doors (...and it's very nicely done by the way); and the original Home Run Apple is now properly positioned in a much more prominent place in front of the Citi Field plaza; and the championship banners were painted back on the walls; and the fact that we are finally getting our beloved Banner Day back, are all the direct results of Fan outrage! And in classic cause/effect, wholly reactive corrections were hastily initiated by ownership. All the re-decorated trimmings you see on and about Citi Field today are because the Fan base quite literally flipped out. The Apple has been relocated and the Banners got painted because the Fan base quite literally flipped out. And after demanding Banner Day back for years, ownership finally relented. Or did they?
Getting back the privilege to parade our sentiments on one of mom's old bed sheets or some other home-improvised signage should be celebrated indeed. However, past practices have not only made me question why the tradition was suspended in the first place but it prejudices me into receiving the news with one raised eyebrow. Were it not for the Wilpons being in such dire straights, and desperate for Fans to show up and pay the reduced, yet still outrageous prices they ask for admittance to a game, would they have still considered bringing Banner Day back otherwise?
Say team fortunes had turned out differently after the 2006 season. Other than our requests and demands continuing to fall on deaf ears, would we be talking about having Banner Day again today? Think about it. Doesn't this wreak of the Wilpons trying to get in our good graces again? You know what they say; Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Even though potential Banner Day participants will no doubt be screened; censored; and or flat out rejected; chalk one up for the Fans anyway.
IX. - RETIRED NUMBERS
There has been a long-time yearning among Met Fans to have at least one more member join the ranks of the New York Metropolitans' retired numbers club. Of course, Casey Stengel's number thirty-seven and Gil Hodges' number fourteen were the first two gentlemen to receive the distinction. Tom Seaver, who entered the Hall of Fame in a landslide, remains the only player have his number retired by the Mets. And maybe rightfully so. That's for us to debate as many Fans believe it's finally time for another.
In no particular order, these are the candidates I most often hear spoken of by Mets Fans:
Jerry Koosman - Kieth Hernandez - and Mike Piazza. I also have a personal candidate of my own, for I would like Tug McGraw's number retired as well.
I do not sense Met Fans want to retire the big three post-haste. Mike Piazza's HOF status is still yet to be determined. If he goes in as a Met, of course that pretty much seals the deal for him. There has however been a long standing debate whether Jerry Koosman and Kieth Hernandez should have their numbers recognized as well.
In Jerry Koosman's case, my answer is an unqualified YES. He's actually one of the best left-handers to ever throw a baseball; period. In the case of Keith Hernandez, he's among the three or four most influential and impact players this team has ever had in all their fifty-year history. And like many things in sports, the ring's the thing. So maybe he deserves it too. But I'm not as committed yet like I am with Jerry Koosman. I guess I was younger and more impressionable. But if I feel Keith's number should indeed be eventually retired anyway, then why not just do it soon. Right?
Retiring some numbers would be a fine way to put a bow on the first half-century of Mets Baseball. Which ones? We'll continue debating. I know this however, along with the current three retired numbers, this class would accurately reflect and neatly encapsulate three distinct eras and be representative of the best from this organization's last fifty- years without any fear of watering down the honors due a Tom Seaver; Hodges; or Stengel; for having a uniform retired.
X. - UNIFORMS
I'm not trying to be a Debbie-Downer, but the Mets only got this three quarters correct. With the unveiling of next season's 50th Anniversary uniforms, I was reminded how beautiful our traditional uniform looks minus the black. And in that regard, the pinstriped home uniform and the old road versions are home runs. But the Mets' insistence to go with their solid white
What ever version or variation of Mets jersey they care to sell in the gift shop matters not to me. Hell, I own two. But what the team wears on the field does matter to me, and in a very big way. This is just me speaking here, but I want those alternate whites done away with. Or at a minimum, made to be worn as the occasional change of pace. It's as if these have become the norm, and we are left craving our old pinstripes that the team gifts us with on a weekend or at their discretion.
And while I'm at it, I want all the black trim elements of the on-field, home as well as road uniform, and the softball uniform if you will..., eliminated all together...for good. I'll buy one. That's what they really want anyway. But please Mr. Wilpon, don't make them wear it. Once a week? - If we must. But please, let us stick with our traditional uniform as our standard. For the time is long over due that this organization start setting standards in something; .....anything.
XI. - CITI FIELD
From the beginning, I thought the outfield contours, dimensions, and quirks were way too contrived. It's not like the chop-shops across the street necessitated all that. In light of the alterations
However, what I originally didn't like was the left field wall's gradual upgrade starting in the corner and extending towards the Great Wall of Flushing. So if pressed to make changes, I would have leveled off the initial portion of the left field wall and incorporated two right angles between the foul pole and the Great Wall. Additionally, I would have just lowered the Great Wall, but not by much. Shaving five feet or so would have sufficed to preserve the original idea of a high wall. And without a doubt I would have leveled-off the center field wall and not have placed the new Apple in straight away center field. Otherwise, I would have kept the right field Modell's Zone as it was.
The Mets have also announced the outfield walls will also be getting a fresh coat of Met Blue paint. Gone will be the Black covered walls lined in Orange; - a feeble attempt to pay homage to the New York Giants. That gesture by itself was impotent, not to mention the relevance was not easily detectable by most fans today, unlike the unmistakable Dodger motifs which dominate the building.
With the changing of colors, Citi Field will have rid itself of any and all reference to the New York Giants. With such an emphasis on the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Mets still miss the ball on embracing all of it's National League Baseball heritage considering the Mets played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds and more importantly, borrowed the inter-locking NY on their caps from them.
Of course the story goes we took orange from the Giants and Blue from the Dodgers. While generally accepted as fact, the color scheme also happens to be the official colors of NYC; white; blue; and orange. As we are the NY Metropolitan BBC, there's probably less of a Giants' influence in that respect than we give the legend credit for. However, the idea of celebrating and incorporating all New York's National League heritage still remains a good idea with Met fans. There's never been issue with that idea. It's how Fred subconsciously makes us and our Mets feel second fiddle to his boyhood heroes; the Brooklyn Dodgers; that irks us because it comes at our Met expense.
XII. - PRICING
I've been going to games on a regular basis since 1975. From 1977 through 1981, my Yankee-fan Pop split season tickets with a buddy; - field level behind the visiting dugout. Rooting for a bad team NEVER stopped me from going to the ball park and enjoying a Mets game. And as a paying adult, I was always more than willing and happy to buy my ticket through the years. I've watched some good teams along with many lousy teams.
With the passage of time, of course ticket prices rose from the time I was eleven years old. But ticket prices remained manageable throughout my lifetime right up until my last game at old Shea Stadium. The old blue Loge Section at Shea and Mezz box seats were always one of the greatest ticket purchases ever. And even in the orange field level seats, there was never a great divide between the "one-percenters" and the rest of the "ninety-nine"...(to borrow OWS terms). Throughout the life of Shea, if you so desired field seats, they were obtainable even at the premium price of the day. But the cost was never obscene like it is now, and the atmosphere never made someone feel like those in attendance around them wanted the lower classes and less well behaved banished to the proletariat section. Eewww, how R... Roman.
All matters in pricing and cost at Citi Field have changed that. While not quite as obscene as what the Yankees charge for nine innings, the Mets followed suit (albeit to a slightly lesser degree) with egregious pricing of their own. Even though the organization has taken steps towards lowering our price, even those with the best intentions to attend multiple games per home stand, the cost of attending a game is still much too prohibitive for the common fan's weekly budget. If a Met Fan attended Shea Stadium frequently before, odds are that same person has to pick and choose only a select few games at Citi Field now, or is having another aspect of his/her quality of life affected in order to afford a game(s).
This phenomenon is not ticket price Darwinism. The cost of going to a game did not slowly evolve into an event this costly; not in baseball anyway. Like I said, everything was still copacetic when games were still being played at Shea. This is a Citi Field phenomenon and the dynamic of newly built parks. There is the obvious debt that needs to be paid off, which naturally gets passed off on us. But many owners studied and tried cashing in on the after-market prices for their tickets. What those knuckleheads failed to realize was that's what people were willing to pay for a Yanks/Red Sox game on a one game basis, or Mets/Phils - when it meant something....on a one game basis - a one time event. It's something they thought they could corner themselves by just charging the secondary market price up front. - And for EVERY game! In effect they are also taking the havoc ticket brokers have wrought out on us.