The New York Mets are seeking $20 million from minority investors. Though any bucks in a storm will do, the target investors aren't those content to see a modest return. No, the team who can't find its back pocket with its catcher's glove is hunting for that small segment of the 1% who are authentic Mets fans -- people willing to pony up perhaps petty cash in exchange for business cards proclaiming them "owners" and tingling over time spent mingling with Mr. Met.
I understand that the allure of an annual toss from the mound and a gift shop discount are enticement enough for some moneyed fanatics. However, as a fan since the team's inception, I can't be persuaded by free parking or socializing in luxury suites. What I'm looking for in exchange for my $20 million will cost the cash-strapped Mets nothing: the acknowledgement that fans of the team actually matter.
As I head out to purchase my lottery ticket, I present my manifesto to Messrs. Wilpon, Katz & Wilpon on how to extract masses of money from Mets' fans, simply by showing us RESPECT.
R~ Stop slashing and start "rebuilding." Don't turn your back on popular players and shrink payroll while blathering on about fiscal responsibility. Fans know the difference between inexpensive and substandard, so stop fibbing and start defibrillating.
E~ I want to feel "enthusiasm" for the team itself. Don't prattle on about wall distances or colors, and don't bellyache about Madoff and clawbacks. Talk about the team, and only the team!
S~ As to Madoff, please "settle" with the Trustee (or alternatively, "sell" the team). It's hard for me to be jazzed when there's more coverage of the Mets on the business pages than in the sports section.
P~ Give fans some "pride." Management can't always deliver a championship, but you can ensure the team isn't the laughingstock of the division (and the state).
E~ "Engage" me for the whole game. Compile a roster with passable starting pitchers, decent hitters, and a bullpen as dedicated to saving leads as management is to saving nickels. I want to cheer for nine innings, not know my team is out of it by the sixth.
C~"Charge" fair value. You pined for a new ballpark, but it appears you did more drooling over luxury suites than deliberating about the components of a competitive team. Did you actually believe fans would drop first-class money on tickets, parking and ballpark food to sit in a Brooklyn Dodgers' tribute stadium while watching the visiting team beat the tar out of a third-rate home team?
T~-"Talk truthfully" to your fans. Tell us where you see the Mets one year, three years, and five years from now. Give us a plan and a reason to believe!
You don't need to hit it out of the ballpark year after year to show you respect us. We're fans, so by definition we're often delusional. However, if ownership continues to check its swing at the plate, why should any Mets-loving investor write a $20 million check? For that matter, if you don't value us, why would any working-class fan even deposit her or his butt into a ballpark seat?