Month: August 2012

Fitting In With The Misfits

“Dear Ma,  You might find it hard to believe…But I think I finally found a home.  The weather’s lovely, there’s so much to see, and people who know what I know.  Now I’ve got friends that do want me and take me as I am.  Now I’ve got friends that do love me.  I’m all right with them.  Fittin’ in with the misfits.”

A Man Called E!, “Fitting In With the Misfits”

I know you might find someone like me who talks and drinks like a sailor surprised to find that growing up, I was very much a loner.  I didn’t have many friends and the shit I liked was NOTHING like what anyone else liked.  I was into New Wave and Brit Pop bands way before it was ever cool or emo.  I listened to music no one else was listening to.  I was a baseball fan when girls weren’t supposed to like it.

Instead of encouraging it, I feel that I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me as a result.  Kids thought I was weird and well, I guess I sort of agreed with them.

So I kept to myself mostly.  But being an only child, it wasn’t that difficult, especially an only child of divorced parents where both worked.  I had a lot of downtime for sure.

But the funny thing was, as I got older and met more people, I found that baseball was a connecting fiber for communities of people.  I remember during the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary “Ghosts of Flatbush” that was on HBO a few years ago, Louis Gossett Jr. said that when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, there was nothing to homogeneously identify with being in Brooklyn.  Baseball brought different races, creeds, characters from different parts of Brooklyn together, and nobody questioned it!

My baseball community started small, with my dad and his best friend and their family.  Then it grew when I started going to more games.  Then it blew up really during the era of social media.  I started my blog and met some amazing people, and even got a husband out of it.

But mostly, this was my happy place.  It’s sometimes not easy being a Mets fan.  It was the fans and the people who drew me in.

These days, I rarely go to games alone.  I’ve had no problem doing it, but usually just traveling to the game is a joint effort, with myself and Ed and the bears that usually come in tow.  There were two games recently that I traveled to CitiField all by myself, though, which is odd.  I’m used to traveling on trains and around the city by myself.  So I had my iPod queued up and ready to take the 7 train on Monday night.

I was invited to the game by a friend who was able to get four seats together.  Our friend Ray Stilwell, aka Metphistopheles, was joining us from the north and we got the Grand Poobah of Mets blogging to join us too, Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

You may remember my misadventures with Metphistopheles in May, when I got stranded in Buffalo, and he volunteered to drive me across the border.  To this day, I’m still grateful (though my trip didn’t exactly pan out the way I wanted it to).  Ray doesn’t make it down here all that often, so to take in a game with him is a treat.  Three out of the four of us made to the Hofstra conference in April.  This was the first time we got the band back together since then.

 

(Photo to the right was taken by Sharon Chapman)

The game itself was uneventful.  R.A. Dickey was masterful again, and deserved better from his offense as per usual.  Yet, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song as I sat there with my friends.  Mostly me banishing Greg to the Caesar’s Club corner (for reasons I won’t disclose here, but it was pretty funny).  We talked about my husband and I almost got divorced over Angel Pagan (he’s Pro-Pagan, I’m Anti-Angel).  Talked about the previous game where our friend Sharon’s son was celebrating a birthday and he got the Carvel gift card they give out in the birthday inning.

On the way to the park that day, I had some time to kill on the train.  And I found an old album (gosh, it’s 20 years old at this point) that I once upon a time had on a cassette tape.  Ouch.  The artist was “A Man Called E!” and the song was “Fitting in the with Misfits.”  It’s interesting listening to that song 20 years after the fact.  At the time in my life, I was very alone.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I never fit in really anywhere.  That song always kind of struck a nerve with me.  I never quite liked it as one of my favorites, but I did like it enough. It was fresh in my mind as I sat at the game Monday.

Mets fans are an interesting lot.  We stick with the team, when sanity could reason that we should not be.  We root for a perfect game each day, knowing that our team is far from perfect.  And yet, CitiField and the Mets is where I belong.

Thanks to Sharon Chapman for the great photo!

This was us on Monday night.  At some point our Mets fandom and baseball fascination has brought us ridicule from others, but we found each other, in the “lost and found” as A Man Called E! sang about his misfit friends 20 years ago.

Later on that night, I went to go visit a friend of a friend…the infamous Darth Marc, from Metstradamus fame.  Turns out, he and I have a larger connection than Metstradamus…we know a lot of the same Blondie’s gang who hang in the Brooklyn Met Fan forum.  Talk about a bunch of “misfits” right there.  These are the guys who encouraged me to be myself and to blog, and were my very first supporters in the blogosphere.

More irony is when he posted this pic on Facebook, a mutual friend from Blondie’s and Brooklyn Met Fan, IrishMike, commented.  I never knew his last name.  We were only friends in Blondie’s name only.  Regardless, I was surprised to him friends with Darthy, though I dunno, I probably shouldn’t have been.

“Coop’s a brunette, Marc is at a Met game – I don’t know what’s going on. Well the Mets sucked again so there is some normalcy.” – IrishMike

The game sucked balls.  There’s no nice way to put it.  But hanging out with some of the misfits I know makes the games more enjoyable.

I was asked last night on a podcast why I was still watching games.  It has nothing to do with “believing” or thinking something might happen.  It’s not even about being mathematically alive or dead at this point.  But I’ll say this:  I watch because I know in a few months, there will be no baseball.  I may have hockey.  I may have football.  But baseball is my heart and soul and comprises so much of my personality.

I watch because it’s finite.  If you don’t stop and take a look once in a while, you might just miss it.

But on Monday night, I got to hang out with mostly Mets folks (disclaimer: Darth is an “Evil Empire” fan – figuratively and literally.  Or literally and literally.  Whatever).  People who are like me.  People who get it.  “For lost souls don’t know where they’re bound,” as E! once sang.

But we’re only lost when baseball isn’t around.

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Join Me TONIGHT for the Gal For All Seasons Podcast at 7 pm ET!!

Just when I think we won’t have much to talk about…Melky Cabrera gets pinched for a 50-game drug suspension and King Felix Hernandez gets a perfect game in front of his hometown crowd.

Please join me in talking about baseball with some fabulous guests,  including Mr. Nate Corbitt from the Wait Til Next Year podcast, Joe Hamrahi from Baseball Prospectus and Cory Schwartz from MLB’s Fantasy 411.

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Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

  Most of you know that I am a Mets fan.  In fact, I’m that person that when something Mets-related happens, people tell me later, “You know, I thought of you when such-and-such happened.”

What most of you might not know is that I am a season ticket holder.  I have been since mid-season 2006.  I was going to so many games, that it made sense for me to invest in it then, since it was evident they were making the playoffs.

I held onto them in 2007 and in 2008, the big carrot dangle was guaranteed seats in CitiField, which opened in 2009.

None of this is probably “news” to you.  But in 2009, I invested in Promenade seats.  I wasn’t given much of a choice because it was either there or $9000/seat in the Excelsior level.  Yeah, no thanks!!

When the Mets didn’t perform and fell off a cliff that year, the Mets’ form of an apology was to lower ticket prices, and I actually was able to invest in field level seats (outfield level, but still, I could market them as field level and have a pretty decent resale value).

Each year since 2009, the Mets ticket sales folks have worked to lower ticket prices, but also make the experience more enjoyable for the fan overall by instituting some things as “Amazin Mets Perks,” which got me to take the field with a player (perhaps you’ve heard me talk about my ass being on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page) and I also got to take the field during batting practice.

My ass might be on Scott Hairston’s Wikipedia page, but I got on the field because of my status as a season ticket holder. Photo credit by Sharon Chapman.

This year, I got a customized Niese jersey for being a plan holder.

This year, 2012, was also the lowest price I’ve paid for Mets season tickets since CitiField opened, but also since my Shea days when I had seats on the Mezzanine level.

As the saying goes, it’s no secret the ticketing department has been selling ice to Eskimos where Mets tickets are concerned.

Yet this year was interesting.  The Mets got off to a rollicking start, and it was announced that the All-Star Game would be held at CitiField in 2013, possibly the worst-kept secret in, well, the universe really.

So I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise that I got a notification from the sales department and my ticket rep, whom I have a very good relationship with, that in order to secure your seat with the All-Star Game, you would require a $250 deposit per seat per account.  The kicker, though, being “the deposit goes towards your 2013 seats” and “2012 Mets Full Season Ticket Holders who commit to 2013 Full Season Tickets by taking advantage of this offer by July 10, 2012 will lock in 2012 season ticket pricing for the 2013 season.

Uh, hello, that’s not only a “no-brainer…” Hell it was a YES brainer!  Of course, I want to hold onto my season tickets for not only personal reasons but also to cash in on the All-Star Game festivities.  But locking in my price now for 2013?  Man, that’s just icing on the mother f’ing cake.

I paid the $500 (since I have two seats) deposit by the deadline and figured I’d be good to go.

Now over the years, the Mets’ ticketing department has come under fire for a few reasons, one of which is their invoice due date each year being around Christmas time.  If I remember correctly prior to the 2008 season, invoices were due around January 15.  Don’t quote me on that, but I’m pretty sure of it.  Yet, after the flailing at the end of 2008 and the opening of CitiField, they leaned on the ticket plan holders for early payment.  Some people complained that it was “too close” to the holidays.  For me, though, I guess it didn’t bother me as much personally.  I kinda figured, you know, that people are usually monetarily wounded around the holidays, what’s the difference a month makes?  (Of course they required back then to pay in full, now there are payment options).

I think another thing is the timing.  The Mets just came off two years of narrowly missing the playoffs.  How DARE they ask us for money when we’re still in mourning?

Since 2009 though things have marginally gotten better, with the institution of the perks program, and making the season ticket and partial plan holders a part of the family.  As well they should.  That was probably my biggest complaint at the time, was that season ticket holders were taken for granted.  I would say a big change in the philosophy of the department happened when Leigh Castergine took over for longtime Mets fixture Bill Iannicello.

But now, I’m seeing some shades of previous Met establishments, and I’m not liking it.

Go back to what I said about locking in prices for 2013 seats by putting a deposit down on your account.  There were two things there: the All-Star game and 2013 tickets.  I get that you should have a plan to be able to reap the rewards for the game, and I have no problem with that.  But last week, plan holders were sent an email about putting yet ANOTHER deposit down by AUGUST 31st  (meaning: like 17 days from now).  A minimum 20%, and as my ticket rep explained, the next payment wouldn’t kick in till October.

Either the first email was in error about locking in prices by opting for the deposit in July, OR they’re just conveniently forgetting they told some fans this.  I mean, I can’t be the only season ticket who was verbally told this, emailed this AND given this new email that’s all passive-aggressive.  “Deadline?  Oh, this deadline?  Of course, that’s new.” (Oh, and before I forget to mention, we were encouraged to put a deposit down, even in the event that ticket prices were lowered in 2013 we would get that new price.  But promised it wouldn’t go higher).

Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit.  But the pricing is very essential for 2013 for me.  For one, each year since I’ve been at CitiField has resulted in me having a lower ticket price AND (something they didn’t do before) is give season ticket holders a discount over the regular cost of a seat to compensate for those days we have to eat tickets or sell below face.  Now, while I was pleased with that revelation, I shouldn’t applaud the Mets for simply doing what other sports and teams have done since the flood.  They needed to do what they could to keep us happy.  I get that.

Don’t tell your most loyal fans that by putting a deposit on your seats in July for games that won’t happen for at least another nine months will guarantee a price lock, then say, “Oh that whole thing, we’re forfeiting that and you have to give us another deposit in less than a month.”

Pardon me if I tell you to kiss my pucker.  I’m pretty upset about this.

In years past, I will acknowledge that the Mets have done the right thing by treating their season ticket holders better, giving them more perks and making us more appreciated.  Each year, the Mets have fallen far from expectation, and each year as a courtesy our ticket prices have been lowered.  In the meantime, would it KILL them to keep ticket prices steady for a year?  Let’s be fair: we know this money isn’t going to be used to improve the team any time soon.

And what’s worse is this whole not-so-much-of-a-warning that your prices may go up if you don’t give into their extortion deposit demands.

Your loyal customers.

Your loyal fans.

For what?  Because we’re riding high on euphoria for having the first no-hitter in Mets history?  Because R.A. Dickey may win the Cy Young this year?  Because you really prepared yourself with a backup catcher this year? Oh wait, that didn’t happen.  Mostly, it’s due to the All-Star Game in 2013.  Fine.  I didn’t mind giving that deposit.  But what I do mind is that I was told one thing, now I’m being told something IN ADDITION to that.

Hell, if I had known I would have to lock in my 2013 prices with or without the stupid $250 deposit, I might have been more okay with it.

I know these are total First World Problems, and most of you could give a shit about my status as a season ticket holder.  But this isn’t just me we’re talking about.  We’re talking about loyal fans who were probably told one thing, and thought one thing, only to have something blindside them.

Over the years, the Mets have ridden goodwill into the ground with their loyal fan base.  In the 1980s, it was due to the 1986 championship.  When the Mets were shitty, they did everything in their power to bring us back with different promotions.  When the team did well in the late 1990s, the Mets rode for years that goodwill in the form of ticket prices.  Only to see the team falter again.  But oh look! The year 2006 came along, and once again, ticket plan holders were taken for granted by locking us in again.

The last four years have been a real test, I have to believe.  The owners, despite what we may or may not know intimately about the financial situation, clearly are not in a position to freely spend.  I’m actually okay with that overall, but the reality is if you see what’s going on in LA after their owners were bankrupt and driven out of baseball, they’re spending and making investments in the team.  Makes me wonder what would happen if MLB actually intervened.  Maybe then we’d have a good team.

But I digress.  In the meantime, they’ve really had to suck up to us and do everything in their power to bring us back.  I’m paying nearly 50% less than my final season at Shea Stadium now for better seats in a nicer stadium.  I can’t complain about that.

My point is, now that the Mets are doing marginally well, they’re technically allowed to ask more of us as fans.  Because they can.

What I can complain about is the blatant advantage taking by the Mets ticket people of their season ticket holders.  As I like to say when the Mets are down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th: they got us where where they want us.

What am I supposed to do here?  Not pay by the deadline, and risk my ticket prices going up?  When the original plan was that the deposit essentially said that I’m locked in?  Because I wasn’t prepared for this.  Now, I have interested partners in my ticket plan, and I’m appreciative of their offer, but that’s not the point.

I feel used.  The Mets played me.  They drew me in by treating me well and giving me nice things only to shit all over it because they can.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.