Even Mr. Met is embarrassed. He should be. Everyone associated with the Mets should be.
The Mets, who staked out a unique claim in baseball history by playing for more than 50 seasons before one of their pitchers pitched a no-hitter, have come up with a harebrained scheme to acknowledge Johan Santana’s feat. Well, it’s not quite recognizing or honoring Santana’s beauty of a game.
It’s a money-making scheme that is about as fraudulent as the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme that stole many millions of dollars from the Mets owners and threatened to undermine the team’s financial foundation.
The Mets announced last Thursday that they would sell tickets to Santana’s no-hitter. No, they were not announcing that he would pitch a second no-hitter; the tickets were for the game of June 1, in which he held the St. Louis Cardinals hitless.
This is how the news release announcing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity began:
METS TO SELL TICKETS FROM JOHAN SANTANA’S NO-HITTER
Fans Can Purchase Tickets From the Historic Game for $50 Each
Season Ticket Holders to Receive Complimentary Reprints,
40-Game, 20-Game, 15-Game, and 6-Game Plan & Pack Holders to Receive Discounts
No-Hitter Ticket Offer Starts This Monday, June 11 at 10:00 a.m. on Mets.com
I hope that by publicizing this sale I am not aiding and abetting it. I acknowledge that the possibility exists, that someone who didn’t know about the sale will now be lured to the Mets’ Web site to buy a ticket or two. But that danger always exists in this writing business.
If you are so tempted, stop and think. Why would you want a ticket from a game that has already been played and one you didn’t go to in the first place? Are collectors so obsessive that they would want a memento from an event they didn’t attend?
The scheme, of course, is aimed at Mets’ fans who watched their team play for years without having a no-hitter. But are Mets’ fans so gullible that they will buy into this scheme?
If the Mets truly want to offer their fans a souvenir of the historic game, why not offer replicas of tickets at no cost? Why make fans pay $50 a ticket plus order and shipping fees? Are the Wilpons so destitute that they are seeking whatever means possible to raise revenue? Why doesn’t Fred Wilpon send son Jeff to Times Square with a sign begging passersby to “feed the homeless?”
The point is the Santana game has been played. According to the Mets, 27,069 people paid for tickets to the game. They have already paid for bragging rights, that they were at the game and saw the no-hitter in person. Years from now fraudulent fans will say they were at the game when they really weren’t. That sort of thing happens all of the time with major or significant sports events.
But now the Mets are offering, for $50 plus order and shipping fees a chance to show proof of their wishful memories. With their crass act, the Mets insult the fans who were at Citi Field. You cared enough to pay to be there, they are saying, but you are not important enough to us to make your attendance exclusive.
It might not be in the same category, but the Mets’ ticket offer reminds me of a George Steinbrenner act that enraged his players. After the Yankees won the 1977 World Series and rings were made for the players and others closely connected to the team, Steinbrenner gave rings to his buddy bartenders, favorite doormen and assorted other pals who had nothing to do with the World Series championship. The players resented the owner’s act of misguided generosity, and rightfully so.
The Mets’ sale of Santana souvenir tickets smacks of the Steinbrenner stunt, but it’s worse because the Mets will make money from selling tickets that have no value except to fans the Mets feel they can swindle because they are starved for positive developments.
On the subject of swindling, what’s to prevent the Mets from committing a swindle upon a swindle? In the news release, sent to some members of the news media (though not this one) by Danielle Sessa Parillo, communications director, said the Mets will “reprint all 41,922 seats at Citi Field.”
“There is a limit of four seats per order,” the release added. “Fans can select a seating category and receive the best available seat in that location.”
But what’s to stop the Mets from printing as many replica tickets as they want if they are overwhelmed with orders? Why stop at 41,922? Why not 83,844? Or 125,766? The tickets can’t be used for anything so why stop at one printing? The Mets might have hit on something here. They have learned from the master.
What’s the old saying? When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Not all is bad about the Mets’ scheme. Season-ticket holders whose plan includes all games can get a replica of their June 1 ticket at no charge. Well, they will have to pay order and shipping fees. What, you expect the Mets to foot that bill? Bernie didn’t make his billions doing that sort of thing.
Holders of partial season-ticket plans will be able to buy replicas at a discount, $30, that is, if their plan included the Santana game. If it didn’t, the discounted price will be $40. Of course, on all of these tickets, remember fees to cover the order and shipping.
If the Web-site sale doesn’t go well initially, can’t you hear Citi Field vendors yelling, “Santana tickets here, get your Santana tickets here.” Be careful, however, if you buy one. Even if it’s fake, it did cost $50 and you wouldn’t want to spill your beer on it.
I had some questions about the hokey plan, but Parillo, the communications director, didn’t return a telephone call or respond to an e-mail. Maybe she was busy hawking tickets.
HOT HIGH SCHOOL IN L.A.
In the first 47 years of baseball’s June draft, two players from the same high school were selected in the first round six times. Last week the Padres and the Nationals made it seven with a pair of first-round pitchers from Harvard-Westlake High School in the Los Angeles area.
The Padres made Max Fried the seventh selection, and the Nationals took his teammate, Lucas Giolito, as No. 16.
Among the previous six pairs of high school teammates who were first-round picks, seven reached the major leagues:
|Jerry Manuel||2B||White Sox||1972||1975|
|Scott Kazmir||P||Mets / Rays||2002||2004|
If Fried and/or Giolito gets to the majors, he would not be the first Harvard-Westlake alumnus to make it. Bob Scanlan pitched in the majors from 1991 to 2001, first as a starter, then as a reliever, finishing with a 20-34 record with six different teams.
Brennan Boesch, Detroit’s left fielder, is in his third year in the majors.
Josh Satin, an infielder, played in 15 games for the Mets last season and struck out as a pinch-hitter against the Nationals last week.
Dr. Don Buford Jr. played baseball at Harvard-Westlake but did not play major league baseball. Dr. Derek Kram, who provided the Harvard-Westlake information, was a pitching teammate of Scanlan but was not drafted and did not play professional baseball. He did, however, once hit a triple for the softball team I managed.
GOING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS
The commissioner’s office announced last week that Jimmie Lee Solomon had resigned as executive vice president of baseball development, but his departure after 20 years in the commissioner’s office was a dismissal, not a resignation.
At the same time, in an unrelated matter, Commissioner Bud Selig changed Rob Manfred’s title to reflect the expansion of his responsibilities. Manfred, who is viewed as a strong candidate to succeed Selig if he ever retires, had been executive vice president for labor relations and human resources. His new title is executive vice president for economics and league affairs.
The title was changed a couple of months ago but was never announced. It was used last week in a news release about modifications in M.L.B.’s joint drug program with the union.
Manfred’s enhanced status was also noted when he emerged as Selig’s spokesman during the bankruptcy and sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In addition, another baseball lawyer noted that Manfred’s role had expanded since Bob DuPuy resigned as president and chief operating officer in September 2008.
Selig has never replaced DuPuy but has obviously enhanced Manfred’s status.
Selig, meanwhile, eliminated Solomon’s status. Selig doesn’t like to demote or dismiss people, but has felt compelled to do both with Solomon.
In June 2010 Selig demoted Solomon from executive vice president for baseball operations to the position he was fired from last week.
“Calling it a resignation was a p.r. move,” a baseball official said. “There was long-time dissatisfaction with him.”
Another official said Solomon had long had personality conflicts with other baseball officials and team personnel. “It’s s a good idea for Jimmie to pursue other things,” the official said.
Manfred, meanwhile, most likely doesn’t need to pursue anything. In fact, he would be wise to be patient and wait for Selig to make an irrefutable commitment to retirement. Selig has never liked anyone messing with his job.