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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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A Cup -- A Plastic Cup

Hey, neat?

Tomorrow night, according to the periodic table of elements better known as the Citi Field Seating & Pricing Chart, is a Bronze game on the Mets’ home schedule. Tickets are priced from $15 in Promenade Reserved to $460 in Delta Club Platinum (Delta Club Platinum is, of course, the finest faucet money can buy). The $445 range encompasses 41 different seating levels, some more Terrific than others. You can spend $112 to get high on Baseline Box Gold, roam to Caesars Club Silver for $96 or just go with something that actually sounds like a seating section in a ballpark, like Left Field Reserved, for $40. Your choice.

What will you get for between $15 and $460 Friday night? You’ll get the Mets playing the Giants, Mike Pelfrey (shoulder tightness willing) versus Jonathan Sanchez, a matchup of a team that’s been on a bit of a roll — a 7-2 spurt has elevated San Fran into first place — posing a challenge to our boys who have cooled down since their last historically hot homestand. Depending on how much you value baseball, it’s a perfectly attractive game and you are, by all means, encouraged to consider purchasing whichever ticket fits your desires and/or budget.

Also, if you buy a ticket and enter among the first 25,000 ticketholders, you will receive a cup. A plastic cup. A cup with a picture of Johan Santana, one of the Mets logos and the words LET’S GO METS. It is “presented” by the company that makes the sausages sold at Citi Field, so I suspect the company’s trademark will appear, too.

You may want a cup that features those characteristics. You might say, “Hey, neat!” Johan Santana is still, recent unnerving drop in velocity notwithstanding, a pretty popular guy with Mets fans, and the whole notion of LET’S GO METS presumably continues to maintain resonance with the same audience. I personally don’t give a damn about the company that makes the sausages, but you know the old saying: There’s two things in this world you never want to let people see how you make ’em — laws and the Mets’ promotional schedule.

You may want that cup when you come face to face with it. When you’ve paid between $15 and $460 for that ticket and then attempted to self-scan it five or six times before the scanner beeps and you are permitted to pass through the Kozy Shack turnstiles (after you and your belongings have been searched, patted down and wanded), you may be wordlessly handed that cup and indeed say, “Hey, neat!” Or you may say, “Oh.” Or you may say nothing. Again, your call.

What I’m guessing you won’t say is, “Oh boy, a plastic cup! This was that little extra bonus that attracted me to the stadium tonight.”

I don’t think you’re gonna say that at all. Even if it’s a most handsome cup, I don’t think a single ticket buyer will have been moved to dig deep because of a plastic cup. Even if it’s got Johan Santana’s picture. Even if it says LET’S GO METS. Even if you’re a fan of the sausage company.

You know what this particular promotion is billed as? Collector’s Cup Night. That implies there is an active effort underway among Mets fans to collect plastic cups. That there are vibrant, growing plastic cup collections all about Metsopotamia. That there is something to collecting plastic cups beyond not throwing them into the trash or leaving them under your seat.

I have, mere feet from where I type, probably a dozen different plastic cups featuring the Mets logo and a complementary design highlighting a given year’s star players or marketing slogan. They come from disparate and sometimes desperate Mets seasons. They came with a Diet Pepsi, most likely. Elsewhere in the Prince household, there are more Mets cups of that nature. Some predate Pepsi’s Mets sponsorship and came with a Diet Coke, maybe even a Diet Rite if we reach back far enough. I like to display them here and there. I don’t like to throw them away. When my wife decided to indulge her latent green thumb a few months ago, she asked if she could use one of them to pot a plant. Sure, I said, we have plenty of them. After a fashion, they are not really fit to drink from anyway, so you might as well fill one of them with dirt and seeds and hope for the best.

But I gotta tell ya, I don’t collect plastic Mets cups. Nobody collects plastic Mets cups. We collect stuff with Mets logos, sure. And we keep our cups because they have Mets logos, but it’s not a hobby or a passion or an obsession, not one I’ve encountered in my Met travels. Therefore, to host a six-game homestand and have as your only promotional date a night dedicated to giving out plastic cups…I can’t see that working.

This is the best the Mets could do? Collector’s Cup Night? It’s a false construct. Nobody seeks out these cups. They’re not collected. Collections of them just happen. At best, you go for a soda and you decide to spring for the difference between what the soda would cost in a paper cup and what it will cost in a plastic cup. When I told Stephanie that Friday was going to be Collector’s Cup Night, she asked, “Don’t you get that with the ten-dollar soda?” Yeah, I said, something like that.

You wind up with the cup because you bought the soda. Or you wind up with the cup because somebody else bought the soda and you’re not too proud to scoop it up when that person doesn’t care enough to take it home. It’s not why you went to the game. It’s just what you wound up with when you left. That, I am convinced, is the extent of plastic cup collecting.

You don’t buy a ticket priced anywhere from $15 to $460 so you can get the Collector’s Cup. You’ll take it if they’re dispensing it. You’ll be damned if you don’t get what’s coming to you for the price of your admission. You’d prefer not to be Fan No. 25,001 and not get your cup.

But no way — no way in hell — are you going to look at your pocket schedule or visit mets.com and say, “I think I’m going to go Friday, May 7, because it’s Collector’s Cup Night.” No, it’s not going to happen. And the organization that plans promotional nights has to have a hunch that it’s not going to happen. That organization, in concert with its sausage supplier, might want to sit down for as many as five minutes and discuss the matter. They might want to acknowledge to one another that a Collector’s Cup is neither a legitimate enticement to buy a ticket nor a suitable reward for having bought a ticket.

It’s a plastic cup. You get it with the ten-dollar soda.

***

• Though “Attend Collector’s Cup Night” just missed the cut, check out the newly released paperback version of Matt Silverman’s 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. It has been updated with more thoughts, more facts and more things to know and do. I’m particularly partial to No. 81: “Read the Mets,” but all hundred are top-notch.

• Today is New York Met and New York Giant icon Willie Mays’s 79th birthday. If the Mets are marking the occasion during the visit of the Giants this weekend, they are keeping it a well-hidden secret. Nevertheless, you can celebrate the life of the Say Hey Kid by reading this great story about Willie and a member of the Mets’ broadcasting family by James H. (Jim) Burns.

AMAZIN’ TUESDAY is returning May 18, 7:00 PM, to a NEW LOCATION: The Two Boots at Grand Central Terminal. We’ll have more details next week, but mark down the date, the time and the special guest speakers: Taryn “Coop” Cooper of My Summer Family and Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods.

• Every day is a good day to read Metstradamus, who can now be found at a new URL: metstradamusblog.com. Belated fifth-anniversary wishes to the only blog that deserves a permanent place in the Angel Berroa Rotunda.

• Reminder for fans of Jane Jarvis’s music, Mets-related and otherwise: a jazz memorial in her honor is taking place at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan this Monday evening. Details here.

• Reminder for those who love New York and want to know more about it: Peter Laskowich is kicking off his spring and summer history tours next weekend, May 15 and 16. Some are baseball-centered, others give it to you without horsehide. Every one I’ve been on has  literally and figuratively been a trip. You can get in touch with Peter through New York Dynamic to learn more..

• Finally, heartiest of congratulations to Sharon Chapman on having reached her initial imposing fundraising goal of $3,600 for the Tug McGraw Foundation. Thanks to readers like you and a lot of other generous folks, Sharon has earned her entry into the New York Marathon this fall. Befitting someone who has undertaken a long run, Sharon’s not done trying to help out the fight against brain cancer and other insidious diseases. She is going to try to jack up her total to a Tuglike $4,500 and we will, as Official Wrist Sponsor, continue in the coming months to keep you apprised of her and the Foundation’s activities. We’ll also be sharing a few more Tug stories along the way. If you can, please donate here.

33 comments to A Cup — A Plastic Cup

  • insidepitcher

    1) I agree that people aren’t coming to Mets games for the collectible cups. As someone who has familiarity with the collectibles biz, these cups don’t make the grade; and

    2) Thank you again for all of your support of my Team McGraw marathon and fundraising activities. I couldn’t have gotten to goal this quickly without you! And yes, I do hope to raise $4,500 for #45 by the time of the Marathon.

  • What struck me about the “Collector’s Cup” promotion is that it’s such a blatant waste of a revenue source for the Mets. The cups can’t cost that much to make, and they get to charge you an extra buck to give you one filled with too much ice and too little soda. Meanwhile, you get to leave with a cheap souvenir. Then again, you get your souvenir and don’t go in the gift shop. So maybe I resolved that issue…

    I’ve seen even worse promotions, though. The NY Rangers once gave me a luggage tag. That’s probably the worst giveaway I’ve ever experienced.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Prince. Greg Prince said: Pack up the kids, Collectors Cup Night is coming to Citi Field. #Mets http://wp.me/pKvXu-1qA [...]

  • Lenny65

    You know that somewhere out there is that one poor guy whose pride and joy is his truly epic collection of Mets plastic collectors cups. He has every plastic collectors cup the Mets have ever offered, all lined up on shelves, in perfect chronological order with little cards indicating when the cup was obtained, the score of the game involved, pitchers and etc. That guy is waiting for Collectors Cup Night with great anticipation. In the morning he’s going to Google “mets collectors cups” like he does every morning and he’s going to find this blog post and he going to think to himself “YES, this collectors cup thing is FINALLY starting to break big!”. then he’s going to click on that link and his whole day will be ruined.

    My feeling is: either give me something I will keep or don’t bother giving me anything at all. Schedule a handful of legit giveaway days and spare everyone the corporate logo plastic crap that rarely ever survives the ride home. Yearbook day, adjustable replica cap (no corporate logos) day, you know, good stuff. It just seems so wasteful to generate all that junk that no one really wants or needs.

  • JoAnn

    OK, who still has the WIllie Randolph Subway cup? Y’know you do!

    BTW, I’m headed out to Mother’s Day this year as we did last year, give from the hubby! I was shocked that the Mets didn’t even give out so much as a carnation to the moms in attendance last year. Hope they do better this time.

  • CharlieH

    Only the FAFIF crew could make award-winning prose — if not outright art — out of a giveaway platic cup…

  • My Mets (faux) leather luggage tag is actually one of the most-used things I’ve ever walked out of Shea with. I don’t remember quite when I got it.

    As a kid, the one that made a big impact on me was plastic helmet day. It seemed almost garishly generous to have it bestowed upon me.

  • March'62

    What happened to good old fashioned giveaways like Mets seat cushions AKA whoopee cushions AKA cheap plastic projectiles with which to cover the outfield. I guess the advantage of cheap plastic cups is that they can’t be thrown very far. And with Santana on them, they won’t travel very fast either.
    BTW – this Sunday’s Lincecum vs. Ollie matchup – the line is set at 2 touchdowns.

  • neoncleon

    Dammit…I thought the plastic cup on offer was the kind that’s held in place by the players’ jockstraps. A genuine Johan Santana game-worn plastic cup would definitely deserve pride of place in any self-respecting collection of Baseball Family Jewel Protectors.

  • Dak442

    Funny how we deride the plastic cup, yet I bet every one of us has a random assortment of them throughout their home.

    I too have some experience in promotional marketing. People would be amazed at the half-assed planning that goes into this sort of thing. Here’s probably how it went down: Premio and Mets decide to do a giveaway event over the winter. They settle on May 7. No one at Premio gives it a thought until late March, at which time they panic because most promotional items are made in Asia and take 3 months to produce and deliver. They ask the Mets to move out the promo date and are told “You can’t, the schedules are already printed”. Premio is now faced with coming up with something on short notice without blowing their budget. Anything cool, like a clever t-shirt (“Premio and the Mets: you can’t beat us, or our meat!”), sausage hat, bobble-head sausage, action figure, comic book, or link-shaped pen would cost too much and take too long. It comes down the standard, lackluster junk marketers always settle for: cheap keychain, fridge magnet, or cup. The overpaid marketing strategist says “People who eat sausage drink beverages! Let’s do the cup!”. It doesn’t hurt that it probably doesn’t cost them more than $5000 for 25,000 cups. They get to report to their bosses that the premium is taken care of, the Mets get to advertise a promotional date, and 25,000 fans go “Meh.”

  • Don’t feel so bad — well, as a Yankee Fan, I do want you to feel bad, but not about the plastic cups. As a comparison: On May 19, the Yankees are giving away, to the first 18,000 fans age 21 and over (I wasn’t aware Dunkin Donuts had a liquor license), a free Dunkin Donuts gift card worth a whopping two dollars. Two dollars? That and a quarter will get you on the Subway! Surely, the richest sports franchise this side of Old Trafford can spring for at least a $25 gift card!

  • Hate to tell you, but I’ve got a collection of cups from stadiums far and wide. My buddy who does this as well has a wife who hates it even more than mine does. Have to admit, cups are more fun to collect when stadiums actually let you buy beer in them–unlike the Mets. (A dishwasher helps in this hobby.) But I will risk not getting a cup to stand in line to buy a ticket rather than add $10 of fees for a $15 ticket. I didn’t go to business school, but shouldn’t the Mets make you WANT to buy tickets in advance rather than wait until the last minute–most events charge more at the door. By then I could wise up and realize there’s more to do on a Friday night than watch the up-and-down Mets. A cup, well, is a cup. But a 66% markup is ridiculous.

    Thanks for the 100 Things paperback mention.http://www.amazon.com/Things-Mets-Fans-Should-Before/dp/1600784240

    • I kept cups from my travels for a while. Then I ditched some. No hard and fast collecting rules on this. But I stand by my sense that you will not have to fight a cup-mad crowd at the walkup window.

      A friend suggests this could have been an ideal Designated Driver type promotion, including a coupon for a free non-beer once inside. The last time I went somewhere and I was handed an empty cup, I expected a keg on the premises.

      • Dak442

        I’m pretty sure they still have the designated driver program (I know they did last year) where you sign up, promise not to drink, and they give you a ticket for a free soda. The Missus usually signs up for the soda. It’s funny, becuse the next game she drives home from will be the first.

        • I didn’t know there was a free soda involved. I thought you were just entered into a drawing for Budweiser jacket.

          Learn something new every day!

  • Dak442

    One more thing I wanted to point out. Greg mentions almost in passing the $40 Left Field Reserved ticket. I know we’ve beaten the whole overpriced thing to death, but think about this for a minute. $40 to sit in the outfield upper deck to see (faintly, unless you bring binoculars) an opponent very few people care about. “Hey, what say we go to the ballgame tonight?” is quickly being supplanted by “I saved up this month, maybe we can catch a game if we bring our own grub.”

    I’m going tomorrow. Face on my tickets is at least $80, probably over $100. And it’s supposed to pour all day. I’d be mighty vexed had I actually shelled out for them.

    • To clarify, LF Reserved is the lower deck. The upper LF (Promenade) seats are $15, the first few rows of upper LF (Promenade Box) are $28 and the LF Landing — Excelsior level without the Excelsior privileges — goes for $42 a pop. LF Reserved Gold, however, is $56. With rain tomorrow, I imagine there’ll be some folks who will give up that $16 worth of Golden luxury for some of the $40 shelter a few rows behind them.

      In Newsday today (I’d link, but subscription only), Neil Best has a story on Met attendance being down more than any other team’s. It can’t be because of the pricing structure or the promotional calendar (which if it was a roster, Collectors Cup Night would be Frank Catalanotto). Must be the silly fans who don’t recognize great bargains and premiums when they see ‘em. And the lousy 2009 Mets who cooled everybody’s ardor for advance purchasing.

  • Dak442

    OK, slightly less egregious. I still feel like $40 is an awful lot to sit in what were $15 bleacher seats a couple years ago.

    Wednesday at work I was screening calls (as I always do) and didn’t pick up the unrecognized 718 number that called almost at the moment of the walkoff HR. In a great irony, it was a jolly sales rep from the Mets, who wanted to discuss a special opportunity to buy some tickets to the Subway Series. I remember when that was the hottest ticket in town, now they need to employ telemarketers to unload ‘em. I didn’t call back.

    • No, those aren’t bleacher seats. They’re Left Field Reserved. Just because they’re in the same general area and give you the same general vantage point … no, totally different.

      Hey! Look over there!

      /runs in other direction

  • I was so happy to BE at this game that I forgot the post I had composed in my head about the idiotic plastic cup. Thank you for doing this.

  • JerseyJack

    I have to admit, too , that I have amassed a bunch of Mets “collector” cups over the years. But , I wouldn’t go out of my way to get to Citi for one. Now , a cool bobblehead is another story.

  • 5w30

    If you have any RC Cola goodies, then you’re a true long-time Metsie fan. Same with Rheingold.

  • JerseyJack

    Oh. Oh. Just counted up my cup collection. I have about 18 different Mets cups over the years (starting w/ 1994). Too many!!