On Schmucks, Tickets, And The Little Things: A War Slightly Less Civil

You might have read this recently:

I have come to the conclusion that anyone who buys a season ticket package for the 2013 season, is a schmuck.

Mets fans? They’re not schmucks. People who choose to go to a Mets game in 2013 might be enabling a clueless, toothless and fraudulent ownership whose only being kept in place because the CEO is a close personal friend of the CEO. But they’re not schmucks either.

The schmucks, to be clear, are the people spend their hard-earned money to subsidize a baseball team that is unwilling and unable to reciprocate that same financial commitment on the field. -Mark Healey

You might have also been offended by it. In fact, a lot of people were offended, as evidenced by Mr. Healey’s twitter feed. Now, being the Libra that I am, I tend to look at both sides of the story before stepping in one direction or another. And I do see both sides here …

First off, who wants to be called a schmuck? If I was a full season ticket holder and was called a schmuck for it, I suppose I’d be pretty steamed as well. Look, I’m a Jets season ticket holder. I pay just over $2,000 for tickets to ten games a year plus parking, and travel from the middle of Queens to East Rutherford, NJ, sometimes at 9AM, to see these games. Am I a “schmuck”?

Well, yeah. But just on general principle. Look, I sit in that new Meadowlands and think to myself that I must be some sort of schmuck for doing this. I lose at least $300 of that $2,000 on preseason games that nobody wants to go to, much less pay regular season prices for. Add that to the travel, and the fact that the whole reason to get season tickets to anything, which is to see your team in the playoffs at home, hasn’t happened for a Jets game since 2001, and I do have those moments that I wonder what the hell I’m doing. More so because the market the way it is now fails to benefit season ticket holders. When I see tickets for a Jet game in the lower tank go for just over half the price than what I paid for a pair of tickets in the upper tank as part of a season ticket plan, I wonder why the hell I’m doing this.

And here’s how I inevitably answer that: We’re normal folk. We go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and do it all over again the next day. Check a box. Uncheck a box. Plug in a number, run a spreadsheet. Type up a memo. And every week or two we collect a paycheck for it. We don’t ask for much more out of life. And increasingly, we’re not getting much more. Those little pleasures we try to find in life are slowly going away. We’ve all been there. Maybe your hours have gotten worse. Maybe the people whose company you enjoy are finding other opportunities halfway across the country and leaving you behind. Maybe that midnight platter of chicken fingers that aren’t lukewarm leftovers from another department have stopped. Maybe the room with the ice machine is now locked during the weekends. The small pleasures that we enjoy from life are leaving us because they’re not cost efficient.

With all these things that make us smile ceasing to exist and not being within our control to bring back, why on earth would we want to volunteer to give up things that we can have, just because the owners callously raised the price to enjoy it? For a lot of people, that’s sports. If sports brings you pleasure in your life, why willingly give it up? And that goes for watching it on your big screen television or seeing a team live. Hell, we’re even losing entire sports if you think about it. So why would we not go to ballgames or buy season ticket packages? To make a point to the Wilpons? Seems a lot of us have been doing that anyway, so the point has been made. And I’m not sure that a few more here and there would be the breaking point for them either way. And it isn’t as if your absence is going to drive the Wilpons to sell the team anytime soon, not with the commissioner giving them every opportunity to hold on to the team and continue to run it as an operation solely existing to provide opposition to other teams who actually give a damn. So if your pleasure in life is to buy season tickets, and as long as you understand that the secondary market isn’t on your side, then enjoy.

Now if you choose to go the other way and give up your season tickets as long as the Wilpons are in power, then more power to you as well. The greater point that Mark is trying to make here … and this is just the way I read it and that I could be totally wrong … is that the Wilpons are taking our loyalty by the balls and testing it by raising ticket prices after four losing seasons. And this is what we can’t forget here, is that the Wilpons have turned you into a business decision. I’ll always blame the Wilpons for turning this organization into a complete mess that they’re just starting to get out of now. So to me, they will always be the schmucks. You see while Mark might be calling you a schmuck on the outside, my guess is that on the inside he’s only looking out for you. Because you guys who do buy season tickets … the die-hards … you deserve better than this. A lot better. You deserve better than having your rates jacked, however negligible the rates might be. And while it might not be the most egregious thing the Wilpons have ever done, it’s still a smack in the face. Maybe it’s a small one … perhaps with a white glove like how they used to challenge people to duels … but still.

The Healey article spawned a ridiculous argument on twitter about what makes a real Mets fan. And here goes my bigger point, one which I’ve been wanting to spew about for a while but never seemed like the right time … and again, it all goes back to the Wilpons: Since the collapse in 2007, the Mets fan base has seemingly split into two factions that argue all the time. And when you get right down to it, strip away the sub-subjects … whether it be season tickets, general attendance, Lucas Duda, or Shake Shack … it’s the same argument. Positive vs. Negative. Sunny vs. Critical. Here’s how it evolved: Collapses in ’07 and ’08 released the hounds of criticism, ’09 and ’10 brought them home to roost. Following that, the pushback came from people who were sick of the criticism and didn’t want to hear it anymore trying to shout it down. And around and around we go.

It’s the same thing, all the time. What’s frustrating about it is that both sides of this never ending stupid argument in essence want the same thing. We all want the Mets to do well. But much in the same way losing can fracture a locker room, I think losing has fractured the Mets’ fan base. It doesn’t have to be positive vs. negative all … the damn … time. Heaven forbid anybody is hyper-critical about the Mets … it seems like they get read the riot act every time.

Me? I could be on either side whenever the situation warrants it. I’m critical of ownership. I’m critical of the team and the players when they deserve it. But I will always be a Met fan. I’ve been a fan since I went to my first game at the age of five (to illustrate how long ago that was, Tom Seaver was a Met … the first time.) Some see the two, criticism and love, as mutually exclusive, and that kills me. It’s like partisan politics. You can be both, kids. And here’s what drives me absolutely insane: When one on the “positive” side ends an argument with “well, I love the Mets no matter what.” And I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and say “We all love them! We’re on the same f***ing side!!!” And that’s the point here. Whether you go to 1 or 162 games a year, sunny or critical, if you’re arguing your case to be a Met fan, you probably are. I mean, who would admit to that these days?

We could each come to the middle here. The critical part of the Mets fan base could probably stand to remind the rest of us that they’re critical because they go back to ’69 and ’86 when the Mets owned this city … and even ’99 and ’00 when the Mets held their own with the team across the river even while they were winning championships. They know that even though this really can’t be classified as a “National League town” as it was up until at least the mid-90′s, they know that a time where the Mets are the baseball destination in New York doesn’t have to be so far away. Hell, the Yankees right now are a mess. If the Wilpons didn’t have their heads nestled in Bernie Madoff’s bosom in the 90′s, then Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler might be spearheading a baseball revolution aimed at taking back this city in 2013 rather than starting their careers amongst rubble. But the critical half could stand to at the very least appreciate the moments we did get in 2012, whether it be Johan’s no-hitter or Dickey’s 20 victories.

The sunny part of the fan base needs to understand that “loving this team no matter what” doesn’t mean that 75 wins a season is acceptable. The players on the team you love would admit to this. And if I’ve got you pegged wrong and you already do understand this, then you need to voice it more. Other Mets fans shouldn’t be your target. The people who have ruined your team need to be the target. I can’t say that the Mets raised ticket prices because of fans on Twitter getting excited about a 75 win team, but I’d just wish every once in a while the sunny crowd would turn their anger somewhere else once in a while. And publicly.

We’re about the same thing here. All of us. Now I could come off and sound like a low-rent Kofi Annan and implore all of you to come together … but honestly, the easiest way to do that is for the Mets to give us a winning season. I wish I could say that’s coming next season, but that’ll stop this nonsense right away. It’s just another one of the little things that has escaped us over the last four years. But here’s one thing I know: There are no schmucks among us Met fans … except the one that just wrote 1,800 words about why nobody is a schmuck and has Jets season tickets. Yeah, that guy is a schmuck.

Albeit a schmuck who loves you. And loves the Mets. No matter what.

Metstradamus

About Metstradamus

I've been a Mets fan since 1976. The 1988 NLCS still bothers me infinitely more than it should. Keep reaching for the stars, and then get checked for a torn ligament.

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