Month: October 2011

Gaming the Market

It’s funny how my status as a Mets ticket plan holder has evolved over the years.  I was in some way shape or form a mini-plan holder, then became a full season holder.  Believe it or not, depending on where you sit, being a baseball season ticket holder is not prohibitively expensive; of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder on what you want to spend your discretionary income on.  For myself and my husband, though, we enjoy going to games, good or bad, win or lose, plus we can barter or sell tickets to go on road trips.

I would be lying though, if I didn’t tell you that each year I wonder if I’ll still want to be a season ticket holder.

It started in 2007, the “whispers” of being “priced out of CitiField.”  Everyone started freaking out because the Mets couldn’t figure out how to package their mini-plans, and season ticket holders really weren’t given a fair shot at where they wanted to sit.  I’ll be the first person to tell you that.  In 2008, they raised prices at Shea Stadium, to give us an idea of what we’d be up against.  For the marketplace though, it was almost fair.  Try going to a game at that place in the Bronx, or even a basketball game at Madison Square Garden.  You’d be hard pressed to find a cheap ticket there.  I’ve always argued that when we visit smaller market teams like Pittsburgh or even Baltimore, the tickets are priced according to that market.  They are cheaper to us and more bang for the buck because of where these teams play.  Whether their teams are bad is inconsequential.  When I visit those stadiums, if I don’t have a rooting interest, I just enjoy the game.  The prices, though, may be prohibitive to those who live in those markets, however.  This is something we need to consider when griping about the Mets’ pricing structure.

Of course, in 2009 when CitiField opened, the Mets put the screws to some of their loyal ticket plan holders.  I had seats in the Mezzanine, and the comparable area would be the Excelsior level or “Logezanine” as Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing calls it.  The tickets were not realistically priced, and I had to settle for the Promenade.  At the time though, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Remember, the Mets were supposed to be good that year, right?  Fast forward a few months later, I had trouble selling my $18 seats for 18 cents.

That intro was to lay down the foundation for how the ticket pricing is going on now.  It’s evident then that the Mets and most appropriately the Sterling Equities group (Wilpons/Katz, etc) were not gaming the market efficiently. A new stadium in the biggest media market should have been sold out at every single game, or close to it.  Some will point to the season itself; some will say it had to do with pricing overall; others will say it was economic factors.  What is evident is that the Wilpon/Katz family in their infinite wisdom thought it would be wise to introduce premium luxury seats to a blue collar fan base to settle their own monetary issues stemming from bad investments on their watch.  Quite possibly, CitiField was one of those investments.

Each year I have been at CitiField, my prices have gone down significantly.  In 2010, I even moved my seats to a lower level, as it was still cheaper than my 2008 seats at Shea Stadium.  In 2011, my seats went down even further.  I had about three games that people did not attend in my seats.  They also introduced “perks” to ticket plan holders, such as taking the field with a player (I took position with Scott Hairston back in April!), subscriber events (such as breakfast at CitiField, raffles, winter team events), and ticket vouchers for additional tickets to a game, in premium seats.

Photo credit to Sharon Chapman

Photo Credit to Me!

The Mets just released their ticket pricing structure for 2012.  Season ticket holders once again get savings, I am saving nearly 20% if I decide to renew for 2012 (which I probably will).  They are issuing “dynamic pricing,” which means you get a structured level of pricing for what game you go to.  This is nothing new, they’ve been doing this for years.  You pay a higher dollar price for Mets/Yankees, Mets/Phillies, but you save going to see Mets/Nationals, etc.

The kicker?  We need to renew by November 7 in order to indulge in the Season Ticket Perks, which was introduced last year.  In previous years, we’ve been able to pay by December 15, and even have had payment plans introduced to us.  The whole saving-money-thing doesn’t bother me: this the whole commitment-thing-before-hot-stove thing does.

At a season ticket holder function the last Sunday of the season, another fellow season ticket holder and I started chatting about the park.  “Nice stadium,” he said.  “Shoulda been sold out every game in 2009.”  I agreed; it shouldn’t have been so hard to sell tickets.  It still shouldn’t.  There are several factors at play.  The injuries are one thing.  The AAA supporting cast is another.  The lack of a plan or foresight in both 2009 and 2010 adds on to the uncertainty.

The team neglected to game the market.  The Wilpons thought wrong in making the stadium for them, by making it smaller and raising ticket prices in a down economy and after two late season failings (though in fairness, there is no way they could have seen the last two things).  They brought in new ticket people (including parting ways with Bill Iannicello, who had been with the team for as many years as I could remember), but it was a year too late.  Even all the perks they are trying to woo season ticket holders with may not be enough.  I remember the days when they didn’t offer us jack, just the good name of the Mets and the tickets.  They figured a nice new park would be shiny enough to make us forget we were watching a crappy team after a while.

But will any of this make us want to go to games?  Lowered ticket prices are nice.  Would you pay an average of $29/ticket for outfield reserve (that’s how much mine cost, if you’re looking to buy next year, ha ha)?? Other monetary factors figure in like parking and tolls, gas even (As an example, I invited Randy from Read the Apple to a game where the ticket was FREE, and he said that even though the ticket I was giving him would be free, by the time he made it to the park, it would be upwards of $40, and he’d have to do it again since he was going to another game that week).  Some people who have to travel find that the SNY broadcast along with the comforts of home like HD TVs and surround sound plus your own food make it enticing to just stay home.

Factor in a crappy team.  At least they’re trying to game the market, but like most Mets’ efforts, they will probably fall short in this plan too.

The Greatest Game(s) Ever Played

I usually get all warm and mushy for the last game of the season.  This year was weird.  Typically, the baseball season ends on a Sunday, and I get all weepy and nostalgic the last weekend.  Since the Mets’ season ended on a Wednesday, the last weekend didn’t hold the same feelings of sadness and longing as in previous years.

The Mets finished their season around 3:30 pm on Wednesday.  Little did I know, that the last day of baseball had yet to begin.

The greatest thing about baseball are the different subthemes in each game.  Every game has a story.  This year, we had four stories to watch.  The starring roles were to be played by: the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees; the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox; the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros; and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

To say that this Mets fan had a vested interest in these games was an understatement.  I have a thing for the Red Sox, as in the “enemy of the enemy is my friend,” etc etc.  Although I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded them not making the playoffs; after all, they were pretty much anointed the World Series Champs with the signing of Carl Crawford in the offseason and trading for Adrian Gonzalez.  I like the Orioles too; I had just spent a day at Camden Yards with a Yankee fan that we called the “Bird Bowl” (as the Blue Jays were their opponent), and she even chronicled that trip in this column (follow Amanda on Twitter @amandarykoff…she is a good Yankee fan and super cool).

 

I also happened to fall in love with Robert Andino that day…they have this great mid-inning entertainment clip called “Andino at the Movies,” where he regales us with movie reviews.  Trust me, it’s comedy in its highest form.

Did I like the way the Yankees just laid down for the Rays?  No.  But I did like the Rays’ team (although they were eliminated from their amazing late-season run earlier today).  I certainly would have liked them to make the Wild Card over the Red Sox, but I guess that’s because the Sox have become a more “moneyball” version of the Yanks (which I guess makes no sense, but I guess if you follow baseball, you get it).

I certainly wanted to see the Cardinals make the postseason over the Braves.  Which meant a win by the Cards and a loss by the Braves.

There was something else eating at me too here.  The fact that if the Sox and the Braves both lost their playoff bids, this would mean I wouldn’t have to hear about the Mets “choking” in September anymore.  I mean, talk about losing their playoff bid on the last day of the season.

Yet, I couldn’t even script how Game 162 would end for these teams.  I thought for sure we’d see some Game 163s going on.  No, these teams decided to take care of business the traditional way: backs against the wall and no shortage of drama.

At the beginning of the day, I’d thought the only dramatic thing I’d be watching was whether Ryan Braun would go 3-for-4 and Jose Reyes’ bunt single in his only at-bat on Wednesday would be for naught.  For Mets fans who wanted something cheer, we got it, and Braun was a non-entity. But hey, his team had already been decided to go to the playoffs, plus he’s almost as close to a lock for MVP if there ever was one.

On a night like this, I can thank goodness for MLB Network.  This gave us the opportunity to keep tabs on all the results.  Since it was technically the last game of the season, I didn’t realize just how glued to my TV I would be.

I was.

I guess the easiest game of the night was the Cardinals.  They won, fair and square, and the only thing they had to do was wait for the Braves to win or lose.  Braves win, they’d play the next day.  Braves lose, Cards were going to play the Phillies in the NLDS.

The real drama occurred over the AL East though.  It looked like the Yankees forgot they were trying to do their part in trying to eliminate their Boston rivals.  Pretty soon though, Rays’ late inning heroics shined through, and they scored seven runs to tie the game up.  I thought for sure the Yankees were throwing meatballs to the Rays to will them to win.  Think what you want, but it was suspect they didn’t bring in their lights-out arms in the bullpen at this juncture.  Then again, the Yankees really didn’t have anything to play for except make Boston suffer.  I’d say they succeeded.

Then the unthinkable happened.  It might not have been that outlandish, but seeing Jonathan Papelbon blow another late inning save wasn’t that story.  It was the fact that Robert Andino is going to haunt Red Sox fans’ dreams (or nightmares).  My friend @2131 and Beyond (an Orioles focused blogger) calls this night “The Curse of the Andino.”  I hope he knows, I do plan to use that one.

I felt bad for friends like Sully, who is as die hard for Boston as they come.  I also know how much they irk Yankees fans.  But to me, the collapse was redemption for me, as a Mets fan, who has been the butt of so many jokes since 2007.  Kranepool Society said “It gets better” to Red Sox fans, but I disagree.  Things have gotten progressively worse for us Mets fans, but I can hope that since other teams have taken the pressure off, perhaps we can all move on.

Same for the Braves.  I think most Mets fans dislike Chipper Jones, but respect the hell out of him.  I know I do.  Some folks were upset that they wouldn’t play in another postseason.  Why, so they won’t make it out of the first round?  I think the Cardinals are certainly more worthy, they worked very hard to get there.

The best part was watching the Rays game unfold.  I said on Twitter that I was going to call it, that the Rays would win it right after the Red Sox lost.

And they did.  Evan Longoria continued to build up his rep with a walk-off home run.  I’d like to think they won that game on pure guts, but I’m pretty sure they were gifted that win.

But who cares?  You might have been able to script these games the way we wanted to, or you might not have.  The thing is, each team kept us guessing to the very end.  Some people might argue that there is nothing more dramatic than a Game 163 or a Game 7 situation.  I’d disagree.  Game 162 2011 version was potentially one of the best nights of baseball I have ever witnessed in my many decades as a fan.  I may recognize October heartbreak, I may not have seen my team win anything in recent years and be humiliated.  That does not mean I have not seen the best that this game can give me.

This is my song for the 2011 season.  The Mets may have not finished where I wanted them to…but I wouldn’t have wanted the season to finish any other way.

Redemption Factor

Coopie still says “Relax.”  But within reason.  In the effort of full disclosure, I ran my first half-marathon on Sunday morning. By the time the Jets/Ravens game rolled around, I was in the middle of a nap and missed most of the first half.   But I could figure out pretty quickly, with losing 27-17.  Though I didn’t think the lead was insurmountable, all I could gather from my Twitter feed was that the Jets O-line sucked.  I can’t attribute this to anyone, because basically everyone had a variation of that summary.

I had faith, possibly more than I should have.  I said, “My feeling is the #Jets have the #Ravens right where they want ’em.”  Or so I thought.

Perhaps my friend, “Blondie’s Jake” Stevens put it best in his Cheers and Boos post on his There It Is! website, when he gave a boo for this reason: “the NY Jets offense, which had two fumbles and one interception returned for TDs, negating the special teams and defensive efforts in a 34-17 defeat.”

We can look at a few things.  One is this very fact: that the Ravens have taken seven consecutive decisions from the Jets.  So to say that Baltimore has the Jets’ number is an understatement.  But then there’s Rex Ryan’s history with the team, and while the Jets are clearly one of those teams that preaches defense-defense-defense, the Ravens were able to in a way bite the hand that feed them with their defensive game.

At what cost is the “defensive” game going to tack into the offensive game.  See, that’s what kills me about flawed theories, no matter what sport I support.  Like in baseball, the so-called sabermetrics concentrates on undervalued stats, but sometimes they don’t always translate into wins.  That’s why I think this whole concentration on defense is flawed.  Especially when everyone on Twitter, MSM and everywhere else is saying that Jets’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to go.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  I guess that’s what, I mean even in baseball when there’s a flaw in a team structure, they look to get rid of a coach to think they are doing something.

Or let’s bench Mark Sanchez.  Yes I get that three turnovers contributed to three TDs for Baltimore.  Is that the real issue, Sanchez being a problem?  I’m not averse to benching him but I think that’s the wrong thing, this is the same guy who was an absolute stud in playoffs last two years.

But this is nothing new for the Jets.  After all, Jeff Cappellini at CBS Sports says they are easy marks, Schotty and Sanchez.  Like I said, it’s like that in all the sports I follow.  The fact is, nothing seems to be clicking these last two games, offense, defense, anything.  Perhaps Nick Mangold’s absence is felt more than we could imagine, but he’ll be back soon (I hope, he should return for Game Five).

Now I get why people are up in arms.  I do, I’m watching the same games y’all are.  Even if I miss the first half because I ran a half.  I can see that people are concerned that by their next home game, they could theoretically be 2-3.  OR they could be 3-2, if the same team that wins most of their playoff games on the road shows up.

I can see why we’re so angst-ridden.  We’re Jets fans.  It wouldn’t be a season without minor heart attacks along the way.

I’m not saying RELAX anymore…but just be patient.  This is why football sucks.  The redemption factor isn’t for another week.  We’ll just bite our nails till they’re gangrene anyway (get it? GANG-GREEN?).