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Do The Right Thing Twice

Kudos to the Mets for hearing the voice of the people — with Mets Police [1] as ever flicking on the microphone so that voice could resonate loudly and clearly — and changing Banner Night, which had been Banner Day, back to Banner Day. For those of you who missed it or aren’t immersed in hashtags, the Mets had scheduled Banner Day for a Sunday afternoon in late May. ESPN, as is its wont, printed up a banner that read, essentially, WE DON’T CARE, and plucked that game in particular for a Sunday night cablecast. Banner Night is not unprecedented if you know your Mets history, but it’s not an ideal platform for a promotion just refinding its mojo after an eternity of inactivity.

The Mets’ first reaction to ESPN’s bedsheet bullsheet, judging by their inertia, was no reaction. Then a sizable segment of the fan base that lives on Twitter got energized. That doesn’t always mean anything, as a sizable segment of anybody can be energized over anything on Twitter for five minutes. But this movement had legs. Enough #Mets fans made enough noise that the Mets responded. They came up with three dates (two afternoons and the transplanted night) and polled the delegation on when it wanted to fly its banners. Next thing ya knew, Banner Day was rescheduled to Saturday afternoon, May 11. Personally, I think the second weekend in May is a tad too early in the season for us to know who and what to hail on our placards, but the people spoke, and I say huzzah that we were heard.

All hail Mets democracy! All hail our benevolent management for occasionally putting its customers first! All hail something that works!

Someday, how about hailing the return of the Banner Day Doubleheader?

The Mets did the right thing, but it still isn’t quite right enough for my tastes. I was thrilled to have Banner Day back in 2012 [2] and am glad it maintained its foothold for 2013, yet I don’t believe it will ever flutter in full glory as merely a pregame jaunt. Banner Day before a day game is better than Not Banner Day at all, but not as good as it could be.

Spirit wasn’t missing from the Banner Day celebrants last year [3]. What was AWOL was an audience [4]. Hardly anybody was in the stands at 11:30 in the morning and SNY’s cameras were still in their off position. The Mets’ network of record was busy airing a crucial infomercial, while most of those who held tickets for the Mets-Padres matinee were still getting in their cars or on their trains. I made a point of showing up at Citi Field early and I still missed the initial portion of the procession.

Banner Day is simply more festive when it features more people. People striding with banners. People watching from the stands. People watching from their couches. People already in a Mets lather from having watched one Mets game and preparing to watch another.

Only an act of God or ESPN can create a doubleheader these days, but as noted a couple of years ago in this space [5], there is modern precedent for reviving a staple from the past. The Oakland A’s received special dispensation from the Players Association to schedule a doubleheader in advance because it seemed novel and likely to attract a crowd (which it did). There’s also the Patriots Day precedent in Boston. There, once a year, they start a game well before noon because it’s their tradition.

Our tradition — a tradition too strong to die, even after sixteen years of dormancy — is Banner Day…the Banner Day Doubleheader. The stuff of legends. The stuff of extra-inning openers that kept the banners rustling in the wings for as long as it took. The stuff that kept Channel 9 must-see TV between games. The stuff that a stadium full of Mets fans stood to applaud when it was done.

The Banner Day Doubleheader: that’s the stuff. It’s good that Banner Day has returned. It will be even better when it’s whole.

Meanwhile, the management of Banner Day Press proudly invites you to march triumphantly to Amazon and order The Happiest Recap: First Base (1962-1973) [6], where you can read about classic placard parades and so much more.