Is the Mets “brand” damaged ?

An article by posted on January 22, 2010

In years previous I’ve heard Omar in a few of his “State of the Mets” interviews include phrases like “our brand remains strong” or “we remain confident in our brand”.

Usually, this is a corporate phrase thrown around when discussing the state of a company’s business. In my heart of hearts, I’d like to think this is the Mets way of trying to convey to everyone that they are run correctly. Unfortunately, I take a different viewpoint in that phrase. I take it negatively. Let me explain why.

The Mets are run as a business. Of this there can be no doubt. They have a budget. (regardless of what anyone says) They look for ways to increase advertising revenue 24/7. They look to wring every dollar they can out of each fan. They price their tickets based on the quality of the visiting opponent. Is it wrong for the Mets to do this? Not in their eyes. I think it is because being a passionate fan, I think it’s just as important to have the franchise be fan friendly and play “meaningful September games” but really, more importantly October games. But, the Wilpon’s are businessmen. Shrewd businessman at that, and the idea in business is to make money. We all know the Mets make money. On this I hope we can agree.

Unfortunately, the Mets are also, in my eyes and heart, a public trust. While the Wilpon family makes untold millions from this franchise, we suffer as year after year our team fails to make the postseason. Fans practically beg for players to be brought on, and as a fan base we try to bring pressure to bear by not renewing tickets, by not buying Met merchandise, by critiquing the organization with blog sites and talk radio. But, our cries and lamentations seem to fall on deaf ears. I’ve become increasingly upset and agitated with ownership as I see a total disregard and disconnect with the fan base.

The refits taking place in CitiField should be proof enough. The owner builds a shrine to Ebbets Field and his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, then finally realizes he didn’t do enough to make it a home for MET fans or the Mets, the team he owns. So the frantic “refitting” begins and continues when they receive criticism which was well deserved and correct in it’s veracity and scope.

In this day and age, with the revenues that this franchise generates, you would think ownership would be very excited and happy owning this franchise, but, instead, the team continues to struggle with bringing talent in because apparently, the Mets are viewed with skepticism by other players from around MLB. All of this chatter amongst players can’t just be from one injury riddled year.

No Met fans. The Met “brand” is now damaged. Two collapses and a season where the words disabled list was spoken so often that you thought it was the name of our hottest prospect will do that.

To procure any remaining talent this off season the Mets will have to overpay. It’s become fairly obvious.

Players play. They also talk. With the continuing problems with medical issues, the high level of fan interest, the amount of media in NYC, which in turn, brings heat and criticism whether fair or unfair, talk radio and mass media in general, it’s no small wonder this franchise seems to be on life support as a contender in January.

I must say, I’m happy Benji and Joel won’t be here. I’m not a genuine believer in either. But, there is no denying the Mets are having problems securing talent and getting people to take their money on their terms.

The organization must make a few bold moves to recapture the fans interest and goodwill. If not, the Met “brand” will be damaged for quite awhile longer. This franchise is being run as a business. I call into question why it’s not run with heart and determination, and a will to win as well.

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