All-Star Game

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.

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Refuse To Get Up In Arms, Literally

If I could muster up some faux outrage for the slight of R.A. Dickey, who is by far and away the well-deserved candidate to start the All-Star Game, I would.  But I won’t.  For several reasons.

I’ve made no bones that I think the All-Star Game is just one ginormous shit show.  The game “counts,” yet I would venture to say that about 80% of the starters, let alone those who have made the roster simply because there needs to be a team representative, won’t even sniff the playoffs.  Besides personal gain (like All-Star bonuses, etc), what incentive is there for say, a Miguel Cabrera who played for the Marlins in 2006 to not Roger Dorn an easily playable ball, leading to Trevor Hoffman’s meltdown which essentially turned me off for the All-Star Game for good? And yes, I brought that up the other night on the Happy Recap’s podcast, because unlike 1986, I won’t get over it.  Dammit.

But there’s more.  Tony LaRussa pulled a Mr. 3000 and retired right after his team, dark horse candidates for the World Championship, won the World Series last year.  Besides San Francisco Giants fans stuffing the ballot box so less deserving players can start (Pablo Sandoval, really people?), is there a point to this whole thing?

Not really.  Except once again, personal accolades for the individual and home field advantage determination for the winner.

Makes sense to me.

(Editor’s Note: No, not really)

There are so many inconsistencies with it this year though.  Okay, so Mets fans all know and love R.A. Dickey, he’s awesome, hard-working, published author, a cool dude.  In essence, he’s one of us.  He’s had a monster break out year.  Well, I was on ANOTHER podcast earlier this season when someone asked if I thought he was a Cy Young candidate.  I said I’d need to see more consistent work after the second half (and his last two games didn’t look too hot, so take that with a grain of salt), but that even if he did coast it out and was awesomely awesome, chances are, the knuckleball, seen as an eccentric pitch, would be voted against him.  Turns out I was half right, as it worked against him for the All-Star Game start.

My favorite explanation was that LaRussa was not sure that Buster Posey, a dude who probably shouldn’t have even been starting anyway, might not be able to catch a knuckle ball.  Well, if Josh Thole is the only catcher, name him to the roster…or does Jason Varitek need to be called out of retirement…I guess Dickey is going to be throwing a lot of passed balls because NO ONE knows how to catch a knuckleball.

Seriously?  THAT’S YOUR REASON?

Now that I got that circular logic out of the way, I refuse to be upset about this.  It goes against everything that I stand for, really, regarding this exhibition.  This is what I find hilarious – an “exhibition” game, that “matters.”  Isn’t that the very definition of something that’s, I don’t know, a total paradox?  Sounds like it. But I was only an English lit major, what the hell do I know?

So my friend Sully writes a column today about how Matt Cain starting is a good thing.  Since I respect his opinion, and even when he bashes the Mets, I tend to agree with him from time to time, I wanted to address it here.  Like usual, I agree with some, disagree with other points.  Like one is Matt Cain paid his dues.  So, R.A. Dickey, who had an incredible journey to the majors, learned to knuckleball, published a book, wants to lecture on Faulkner and English lit masters when he’s retired…that’s bupkis?

R.A. Dickey has only been a star for a few months, consistently he argues.  Well, while I’d agree with one part (see my paragraph above about how I felt that he needed more of a body of work for me to consider a Cy Young, let alone a NL All-Star start, which by the way was totally deserved), but I have to ask…if not the All-Star Game…and let’s say for argument sake that he bowls over the competition, leads the Mets to the NL East title and the World Series…would that preclude him from getting a Cy Young…BECAUSE he *may* be in fact a one-hit wonder?

Does that make sense?  I mean, chances are, Dickey may come down to earth, and be more level in the second half…so that might not be Cy worthy.  But an All-Star start…that’s ever a time to have a so-called maybe one-hit wonder start.

I did agree, however, that Dickey coming into the game will give Mets fans a reason to stay tuned in middle innings.

But the All-Star Game is supposed to be based on merit, the cream of the crop, the top of the class.

Yet there’s the other side that it’s an exhibition game that “counts,” and the fans are voting their favorite players in.

Forgive me if I can’t muster up enough of an attempt to give a shit.

Yes, I did write about it, I did acknowledge it when I promised myself I wouldn’t.  The fact is, I could get upset about R.A. Dickey not starting the game, I could get upset that David Wright wasn’t voted as a starter because a fanbase 3000 miles away managed to game the system.

But that would actually make me admit that I care about the All-Star Game.  And I don’t.  In fact, I found out that Prince Fielder won the HR Derby once again on Twitter.  I didn’t watch.  I may watch tonight just to see my players play.  But that’s about it.

If the players and manager refuse to care about it, why should I?

All-Star Follies

I haven’t been a fan of the MLB All-Star Game for a few years.  I think my tipping point was in 2006.  I remember reading some quotes from some players on the Houston Astros who were like, “I won’t be losing any sleep if the NL loses, ha ha.”  Yeah.  My ass.  That’s what happens when you make something that is a glorified exhibition game between players whose team more than likely won’t be making the playoffs to determine home field advantage for a game that the All-Star game has no bearing on.  If you can follow that circular reasoning.

Anyway, I’d had enough of the game when I saw Miguel Cabrera Dorn an easily playable ball in the 9th inning when the NL was leading, and Trevor Hoffman successfully blew the save and the NL went on to lose.  Hoffman’s team had made the playoffs later that season; Cabrera’s team had no shot.  It didn’t matter.  There is a disconnect between what the game actually means in the long run to what the players are actually playing for.

Well, fuck that noise.   I’d had enough of the All-Star Shit Show.  And it’s not much different in the other sports I follow.

My dad once told me of an NHL All-Star Game that one of the teams won by a margin of like 2-1.  It sounded like a great game.  There was a level of competitiveness that the players had and maybe a sense of pride.  You don’t really see that anymore.  It’s now more of a “I can score more goals that you can.”  It’s a combination of “I don’t want to deface this property” or Roger Dorn-ism that these players are voted in.  It’s supposed to be an “honor,” but at the end of it, all it becomes is a shit show.

Like the NHL All-Star Game.  I didn’t know if I should have been happy that Marian Gaborik was the MVP…or upset that he owned our Henrik Lundqvist, among others.  I have to say, I was talking about that whole players choosing their own teammates thing, it’s basically Fantasy Hockey.  On one hand, it’s a novelty, and at the end of the day, it’s just an exhibition game.  On the other, I guess I did like the whole Eastern Conference vs Western Conference.  It’s got kind of a Old Timers’ Feel to it (especially when they encouraged Gabby to mimic Artem Anisimov’s “shoot the duck” pose after scoring and a “mini-brawl” broke out, sort of).

It doesn’t count, unlike the MLB game, so that’s cool.  Yet, I have a hard time saying, hey, Gabby was MVP.  Gabby was MVP of what…crap?

And don’t get me started on the Pro Bowl.  Nobody gives a crap about it!  It’s literally just filler for the week between the Conference Championships and Super Bowl.  And that’s it.  Judging from the amount of people who actually watched it, seems like others could give a crap either.

I kind of like the week off of NHL games though.  As a fan, the break is a little welcome, so I can reflect.  But I was ready to jump because there were no sports on Sunday.  No sports!  I’d rather watch nothing than the All-Star Games or Pro Bowl or whatever shit show there is.  But that’s just me talkin’.

Dog and Pony Show

I know that I am flogging a dead horse, but may I ask what the hell does the All-Star Game in July have to do with the World Series?

Apparently, a lot, since home field advantage for the World Series, is decided by a game that has nothing to do with the outcome of the season or who goes to the game or what.  I’ve been on my soapbox on that quite a bit, so I won’t go into my “Bud Selig is a fucking moron” rant.

Yet as I am watching the opening game of a potential seven game series between a Wild Card winner and the AL West divisional champ…well I guess if you want to wax poetic about it, the fact that a Wild Card team is in the World Series is a testament to the Wild Card age.  I get that.

But am I crazy to think that there’s no way in hell that a Wild Card team should have home field advantage in the World Series UNLESS they have a better record than the other team?

If you think about it, Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose team was beat by the National League Champion, St. Louis Cardinals) gave the NL home field advantage by hitting a rocket of a home run off CJ Wilson, the starting pitcher for the AL champion Texas Rangers tonight…and ultimately for what?  So that the team who beat Fielder’s team that didn’t have a better record in the regular season can have home field advantage.

I just want to state that I have no problem with how the teams got there…in fact, the Cardinals have had a pretty improbable run, a longshot for the Wild Card, and “backing in” on Game 162 day by the Atlanta Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies: the team the Cards beat to get to the NLCS.  Baseball is an amazing sport, one of great stories and dramatic themes.  The Cardinals are no exception to that.

Yet, when I think back to “great stories” or “dramatic themes,” I don’t go back to the All-Star Game and say, wow, wasn’t it great the NL won home field advantage for the World Series then?  No, I mean, even though Prince Fielder’s team had a chance to go to the big show and directly profit off that win, if Carlos Beltran had hit the home run to get the NL the win, it would make even LESS sense.

The All-Star Game is a dog and pony show, and I don’t even really care to watch it each year (I mostly do so because my husband likes it still…whatevs).  It’s hard to say that there wasn’t an “earning” of home field advantage because that would diminish the Cardinals’ run to the big show, that’s not what I’m saying.

But I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s ridick that a team with a worse record gets home field because of a game that means absolutely nothing three months earlier over a team that has a better record and may be used to their “advantage.”

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.