As a guy who has trouble balancing a check book, all this financial talk of the Skill Sets and the financial stability of the franchise has my head aching. What The Skill Sets knew and when they knew it about the Madoff Ponzi scheme is still not known and if an out of court settlement comes about, we may never know but what we do know is the brand of the New York Mets has been tainted.
Maybe this is why the organization has embraced the Mets blogging community, why not go to the folks whose love for the team is undying and let them be involved in events that we never dreamed we’d be a part of. I am very much appreciative of the organization for the opportunity they have given me with access to Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and various players but the folks the organization really needs to reach out to you guys who read this site and other Mets blogs and buy the tickets and watch SNY and buy team merchandise because you are the life blood of the franchise.
The news of the Skill Sets cash call could not come at a worse time. Season ticket sales are down and there doesn’t seem to be a big demand for single game tickets either, those go on sale in March. The biggest argument and it is a very fair criticism, is that the ticket prices are way to high. Now add in the news that the Skill Sets are strapped for cash most fans will feel that by buying a ticket to a Mets game will be paying for the Skill Sets Defense Fund. I’m not saying it is but that’s the perception.
A couple of pluses could come out of this firestorm. Yesterday I attended SABR DAY at Foleys Bar in Manhattan an event that was put together by SABR and Baseball Prospectus. It was a great afternoon of baseball talk with baseball fans and writers. Two of the panelists were Mets play by play man, Gary Cohen and Newsday baseball writer, Ken Davidoff. When the Q & A session began the Skill Sets money woes came up. Cohen didn’t have much to say on the topic and with good reason I guess, but Davidoff claimed that as far as the baseball operation goes it may be good for the team. It seems this had been brewing for some time and Davidoff confirmed what I’ve been told for years and what I’ve written about here, that Jeffey Skill Sets is a big part of the problem. Between Jeffey and Omar they wanted to be friends with everyone from players to front office people and anytime a tough decision had to be made neither man could pull the trigger. The Tony Bernazzard firing is a prime example, the team had to be humiliated by the media before they’d let Bernazard go as he was friends with both Jeffey and Omar. Davidoff stated this will not happen under Sandy Alderson as he will not tolerate it. The panel consensus was by putting Alderson in charge it takes Jeffey out of the baseball ops decision making except on money issues. So if there is a plus out of this fiasco it’s muzzling Jeffey. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard folks who cover the team say “Now there is an adult in charge” well, you’d be looking at a 25 % owner of the Mets.
The Mets will have to really work hard on marketing this team for 2011 and beyond. The best way to start is by ripping out those club seats behind home plate and replace them with seats that honest to goodness baseball fans can purchase. Not only would be good business but it go a long away to getting some positive baseball atmosphere in Citi Field. Every time you tune into a Mets game on TV, those seats are empty because the ticket holders for those seats couldn’t care less about the game going on as long as the free booze and food are flowing in the Delta Club. The organization lowered some ticket prices but they are still ridiculous. The Skill Sets have taken a massive hit on their credibility, if they want to win the fans back they have a lot of wooing to do. This is year three of Citi Field and the place still has no identity. Is it a playground for the well to do? Is it a food court with a ball park attached? How games have you sat in your seats watching a game a looked out toward centerfield marveling at the line of people who stand on line waiting to buy a hamburger? When people would rather wait on a line for a half hour to forty-five minutes for a burger than watch your team, you have a problem.
It’s time Mets ownership comes to the realization that in order to make this franchise great again it has to embrace the working stiff Mets fan. One thing you know about us working stiffs, we are loyal to the team and we show up and support the club in good times and in bad. Not like some rich thieving scumbag who but a knife in the Skill Sets back. You want to sell 25 % of the club? Just make the real true blue and orange Mets fan feel like you actually care about them and make the Citi Field experience that wants fans to come back rather than say good riddance and I guarantee you’ll see so much success that this cash call will be just a bad dream.