Mike Vaccaro lays out a solid argument in this morning’s New York Post, about why there is so much distrust between the fans and the team. In dissecting the causes for this growing schism in Mets Nation, he concludes that it all boils down to the Mets wanting to have it both ways..
As negotiations with David Wright and R.A. Dickey continue to meander, it was revealed this week the cheapest opening day ticket for April 1, when the Mets host the Padres, will be $63. If that sounds absurdly expensive, it should: Two days later, when those same teams play the second game of the season at Citi Field, those $63 “promenade reserved” tickets can be had for $15.
If this sounds absurdly tone-deaf … well, of course it is. Because it goes to the very dichotomy that will forever haunt the Mets: On the one hand, they want to play the big-market bully whenever it benefits them. That means charging Broadway-level prices for Opening Day, for Yankees games, for high-profile games. That means remembering the dateline for their games remains “New York,” and paying for the privilege.
But on the other, they want to squeeze themselves into a shell, camouflaging their own spending habits behind terms like “fiscally sound” and “responsible.” The Wilpons keep insisting they are not a team in financial ruin, they are stronger now than they were two years ago, that it is unfair to label them unnecessarily thrifty. And insist the budget they are imposing for themselves is good for them, for their future.
Vaccaro is correct. You also have a few fans that also like their bread buttered on both sides as well. Those who would believe that Sandy Alderson is here with a plan on team-building that is based on his Moneyball philosophy – finding undervalued assets as opposed to spending at market rates to fill needs.
However, at the same time they blame Wilpon for slashing payroll to $100 million. The first words out of Alderson’s mouth when he took over was that the payroll was too high, and perhaps it was, so it should have come as no surprise what was coming next.
Let me explain it another way…
If Madoff never happened, would Alderson have come here and kept payroll at the $140 million range?
If Madoff never happened, would Alderson have gone after free agents like Prince Fielder or Josh Hamilton?
If Madoff never happened, would Jose Reyes still be a Blue Jay or a Met with a six year, $106MM contract?
You can’t applaud the new philosophy, and then when it unravels blame the owners for not spending. The entire philosophy in it’s scope and entirety is based predominantly upon “not spending”.
On the other hand, you can’t say we need to get rid of the Wilpons for ruining the team by making bad decisions, and then applaud the hirings of Alderson, Ricciardi and DePodesta and saying the team now has a bright future. Which one is it?
The timing for the Wilpons to raise ticket prices so dramatically was bad. On that we can all agree. But they are operating a business that desperately needs to turn a profit. As I told a few who were complaining on Twitter before the weekend: Whether the Mets charge $30 dollars for Opening Day Tickets or $63 dollars, they will still get a packed house. If this was your business would you handle it any different? Did Capitalism in America suddenly die while I was asleep?
The Mets’ credibility on a variety of team issues is at an all-time low in my opinion. There is very little the owners or the front office can say that isn’t scrutinized or looked down upon. A cloud of mistrust hangs over the heads iof both ownership and management.
The only way to get past these problems is to win…
The only way to win is to improve the product on the field…
Winning requires more spending and can’t be done with prospects alone, despite rumors to the contrary. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.
You can’t spend what you don’t have. Even with all the slashing the Mets still lost about $20 million last season. It was a huge improvement over consecutive years of $70 million dollar losses, but still not where they need to be.
Raising ticket prices for one game – that in all likelihood will be a sell-out anyway – puts an extra $3 million into the pot. It helps pay for that outfielder we so desperately need. There’s a cost for winning and it doesn’t come cheap.
Alderson and Wilpon are a tag-team as ordained by His Holiness, Bud Selig. You can’t blame one without blaming the other. They may seem like two distinct entities to the casual observer, but the truth is they are both running on parallel circuits.
The Mets were in a fight for their fiscal lives, but things are getting better as I said they would. The best case scenario now would be:
1. A complete return to profitability.
2. Alderson then stepping aside after a job well done (from the Wilpons point of view).
3. A new GM puts the team back on a philosophy of winning, rather than a philosophy of cost-cutting.
Nobody knows what will happen in the future, but I can assure you that Alderson will always be looked upon as “The Man Who Saved The Wilponian Empire”. That’s the title of an e-book I’m working on for release in the fall of 2013.
Alderson is to the Wilpons, what Lee Iacocca was to Chrysler.