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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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And We'll Always Be Loyals

When I was a newly minted sophomore, I indulged my small extrovert steak and went out for a part in my high school’s Theatre Wing production of Heaven Can Wait. I read for the second lead of Mr. Jordan, but wound up with the far smaller role of Inspector Williams. I wasn’t much of a tenth-grade actor, yet when you put a suit on the 15-year-old version of me, I had a knack for appearing middle-aged. I played a series of police inspectors, senators and doctors during my brief scholastic dramatic career. If the suit fit, I wore it.

No matter that I was more utilityman than star. I was in the play. I was also in the stage crew, something I had no particular predilection for. If I wasn’t an actor by nature, I really wasn’t a handyman in any sense of the phrase. I wasn’t good at building things and I wasn’t good at moving things. I had no eye for where things went. I didn’t like tools and tools didn’t like me. But my best friend from junior high decided he wanted to be in the stage crew when we got to high school and I liked being able to hang around with somebody familiar to me, so I opted to pull double-duty.

Acting I could fake my way through (it was acting). Stage crew I was largely useless for, but I hung in there with it for however many weeks my friend remained interested. I was impressed by the job the rest of the crew was doing even if I wasn’t much of a factor in its incremental accomplishments. After a couple of afternoons of attempting to not get in the way of those who knew what they were doing with a hammer, I could see the outlines of a set coming together. I was so proud of the work to which I was nominally contributing that I suggested that night at rehearsal to our director — a very, shall we say, theatrical English teacher by day (when the kid playing Mr. Jordan suffered an injury, he cast himself as second lead) — that the stage crew was making terrific progress and fairly soon, we’d be ready to start painting.

Our director, for whom Heaven Can Wait was his umpteenth rodeo, stared at me in disbelief and informed me, “There’s a long way to go before we can start painting.”

Y’know what? He was right. And y’know what else? There’s a long way to go before the Mets can start acting indignant that every seat in their theater isn’t being filled.

They’ve begged our patience for too many years to grow antsy that they can’t move more inventory after a few weeks of solid baseball. The solid baseball is most welcome. It was so solid pre-Coors Field that I’m willing to chalk up the second consecutive messy loss at high altitude as just another of those things that materialize out of thin air. Besides, Juan Lagares is back with such force that I’d suggest officially redubbing this outfit Juan Lagares & the New York Mets, except that would probably rub at least a few of his 24 supporting players the wrong way. Plus Juan might think about going solo.

Anyway, decent start to the season 28 games in. Maybe not terribly sustainable. Or maybe sneakily sustainable. Hell, Curtis Granderson now has a second home run and a batting average (.156) that can no longer be mistaken for a Field Level seating section. With 95.67% of his contract remaining to be played out, we might eventually have something to connect him to besides his miserable April and whatever he said when he came aboard the good ship Metropolitan.

Granderson’s employers must’ve been really enamored of that business about “true New Yorkers” being Mets fans last December. They’ve produced apparel with that message, available in the Citi Field team store, and now, as you might have noticed, they are e-mailing people who are presumably Mets fans to urge them to declare that they are definitely Mets fans… or “True New Yorkers” in the Grandersonian dialect.

The come-on is very weird, and that’s grading on a steep Metsian curve for weirdness.

After adhering to a strict policy of paying minimal homage to their past, the Mets have scanned the signatures of ten Mets players associated with more successful times and pasted them to the bottom of an open letter that reads like a cry for help. They couldn’t be bothered to reunite the surviving Mets of ’62 or ’73 on their respective 50th and 40th anniversaries, but at least they gathered these guys together on a virtual page.

The message? “Update your contact information so you can be sent more commercial e-mails from mets.com and mlb.com” is implicit. The prize of two tickets to the May 14 game against the Yankees — complete with the honor of presenting Internet signatures to David Wright — is fine enough, though the sweepstakes aspect seems secondary here. The consciousness-raising of Mets fans who might be dismayed that, according to published reports, there aren’t more Mets fans amounts to an unbecoming pile of insecurity.

Somebody had a meeting and determined Mets Fan Equity lies dormant in the True New York State of Mind and the Mets marketers decided they’d be damned if they couldn’t rile it up through emotionally manipulative cues:

• “We made history together…”

• “Stand up and say you’re a true New Yorker.”

• “…players and fans together, believing in each other…”

• “We couldn’t have won without you.”

The stilted missive raises more questions than it answers…

Is there a Mets fan who hasn’t spent a lifetime feeling Met-symbiotic already?

Do the Mets not understand that this is the way a Mets fan thinks most days?

Why would I feel the need to tell the Mets I’m a Mets fan?

Putting aside the Kabuki of filling out required fields, adding an optional 50-character maximum message and showing some unspecified straw men that, gosh darn it, I believe…what is the purpose of this?

I get the purpose from the Met management side. Harvest fresh e-mail addresses. Guilt us into buying more tickets for the provisionally uplifting 2014 Mets — “We’re calling on you to give today’s club the same chance we had.” And maybe sell a few of those “True New Yorker” t-shirts that I haven’t seen worn by anybody in any of my six trips to Citi Field thus far this season. But other than the minuscule shot I would have of winning admission to the no-longer hot Subway Series and shaking Captain Wright’s hand, why would I, your average fan, feel the need to affirm a blue-and-orange oath upon a stack of revised Mets yearbooks?

With all love and respect to the vintage Mets who assure me I “have a role to play in making amazing things happen,” if this franchise doesn’t know us by now, it will never, never, never know us.

Want our loyalty, our allegiance, our Trueness? Play hard right now, improve the product as soon as possible and win like you did we looked for Ed Charles’s name on poetry rather than form letters. We’ll be there. We’ll be so present you’ll be tempted to nudge us along because Citi Field will be like a midtown coffee shop at lunch hour and you’ll need our table for those new customers lining up by the cash register.

The first line of that letter is a hoot: “The victory you earn is sweeter than the victory you’re given.” What have you, my dear Mets, done to earn our loyalty lately? 15-13 is swell, but come now. Surely you know we give you our loyalty. We gave it to you ages ago and you’ve been enjoying its residual payouts ever since. Don’t like the diminishing returns? Invest a little on your end.

We’ve met you more than halfway over this past half-decade. Now it’s your turn: continue to shape a production we swear by instead of at and don’t automatically expect us to storm the box office before the sets are truly ready to be painted. In other words, keep getting better. That will earn you so much goodwill that you can send us all the silly e-mails you want and we won’t be tempted to unsubscribe.

22 comments to And We’ll Always Be Loyals

  • I got these creepy emails this week too. There was something strange about Mets ex-players taunting me to show not my blue & orange spirit but sign my name along side theirs as a “True New Yorker”. Great, John Franco is a true New Yorker, I won’t disagree. But I’ve been a Met fan born and raised in California for 42 years. I can’t play their game, I feel left out. I’m not a New Yorker. But I’m a huge Met Fan and there are alot of us not in the NY area.
    This email read like Keith and Ron And John were begging me to buy tickets. You are so right Greg. If you build it they will come. The Mets are still under construction, maybe even still in the blue print stage. There is work to be done not signatures [ie: email addresses] to be collected.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Amen!

  • Donna

    Your stage set analogy is right on point.They’re not ready yet for paint. They can email me when the team batting average breaks .250.

  • 9th string catcher

    I appreciate the front office periodically reminding us fans that they are incompetent in case we casually forget. As the mets were actually 3 games over .500, it was clearly time to rub everyone’s collective noses in it. News flash: true New Yorkers like to win. And Mets fans like the challenge of being the underdog. That doesnt mean we like to cobble together shitty teams with players past their primes or playing in wrong positions or being managed like crap. True New Yorkers dont have the patience for mediocrity. True New Yorkers dont like nepotism. And true New Yorkers dont like looking ridiculous. Wilpon – stop making laughingstocks out of your fanbase – please.

  • Jack Reid

    One can only the moment in the suit suite the PR people presented this “letter” campaign.
    “Mr. Wilpon, this product effectively combines fhe “culture” you asked for with the call to action to huy in.”
    “Fantastic! Wait until Dad sees this!”

    The last thing I’ll respond to in my 52nd year of supporting my Mets is falling for another cheap stunt by an ownership group that I am determined to outlive. METhuselah be damed!

  • Dave

    Been waiting for your take on this. We all get those occasional emails that say something like “Hi, I’m Stacy, and I bet we could have a lot of fun together. Click here and let’s get the party started!” We delete these emails and go on with our business. I have no attachment to Stacy. But to get an email from the Mets asking me to take a blood oath to prove my loyalty and making it part of a publicity campaign so that, unlike my receipt of a promise of a good time from Stacy, everybody knows about these sad attempts by the Mets to find out “does he really like me, I mean like me like me?”…well, that’s all icky. I can only hope that Keith and Ron were told that they had to put their names to these as a condition of the “allow your name and/or likeness to be used in team sponsored marketing and promotional campaigns and materials” clause on page 11 of their contracts with SNY, and said when they found out about it, “yeah OK, but this is bullshit.”

    I proved my loyalty 1000 times over before any player on this team was even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. By the time David Wright learned to walk I had already spent more than 2/3 my life living and dying with the Mets. And besides, I have been a New Jersey resident every day of my life, I am a generation removed from being a New Yorker, true or otherwise, and even that was only on my Mom’s side, as Dad’s family were all purebred Jersey. Whatever go-getter in marketing came up with this needs to find a new job, and the Wilpons should look for some cause and effect as it pertains to putting fannies in the seats. Just win, baby.

  • Bill Tousius

    This poor and transparent PR attempt by the Mets ownership is pathetic. We will always love, live, and breathe our Team. A real fan sees the ploy by ownership and doesn’t need to “sign a letter” to display loyalty to a team that is run by half wits and insults their fan base’s intelligence. Let’s Go Mets !

  • Parth

    As an ad agency guy, I collaborate often with PR for my clients- and like anything in life, see quality and hacks alike. As a Mets ticket plan holder, i am awestruck how an organization, by accident, can’t have their marketing engine capture their fan base’s imagination even once in awhile. As embarrassed as i am about the recent spam we’ve been subjected to- i can delete them in less than a second. What’s more problematic is the litany of disappointments in dealing with their full time employees.

    Exhibit A, Sept. 27, 2011 Mets/Reds, the penultimate game in a forgettable, sorry season of which i had invested 15 evenings at Citi i would never get back. I had an irrational expectation that i would present a rainout ticket from earlier that season coupled with my Promenade ticket for the 27th, and somehow get a seat upgrade. Now i know it was a real challenge for powers that be in that they had to choose from 35,000 empty seats to place my buddy and I in. After supreme indifference, I was scolded that I needed to have returned that ticket by some date in August posted on the website and there was nothing they could do. I then took it up a notch in volume and seniority and got someone to research that I was indeed a ticket plan holder- and after 15 minutes of TSA like scrutiny, a tool comes out from the back, with no eye contact throws 2 seats on the desk and announces “if you weren’t a ticket holder you couldn’t do this, just so you know.” I laughed in her face, questioned in this economy how she can hold a job in customer service, and went for the dagger with “Would the Yankees ever do something like this”.

    When i re-upped my tix for 2012, I shared this charming story with my Citi Field account manager, and got nervous laughter; and no confirmation e-mail after placing the order. When it arrived prompted by another phone call, it had last year’s date on it. I guess most people don’t give a crap- but if we’re building a strong brand- what these marketing wizards theoretically get paid to do- these experiences say A LOT. It’s the Gladwell broken window theory. I for one am not surprised that we are getting these insulting e-mails. They are just layered on top of all the other shards of glass Met fans are continuously subjected to.

    • Dave

      Here’s my favorite customer service story. We bought one of the so-called Sunday ticket plans in 2009 (I say “so-called” because the plan included some Sundays that landed on Tuesday evenings). Upper level, LF corner, I want to say section 532. If you recall, when CitiField opened, many of us were rather dismayed that many seats in the outfield had zero view of much of the outfield, despite our being told that there were “no obstructed views.” Well, I called one of our friendly customer service reps to see if something could be done about this. For starters, I was told that no, my view was not obstructed. Somehow the Wilpons found it within their power to redefine the word “obstructed” to mean the absence of poles and beams in front of one’s face. No pole, no beam, no obstruction. Then I was told something that has resonated with me ever since, for 5 years now, and I attribute my current need for blood pressure medication to hearing this from a Mets customer service rep (who by the sound of her voice was probably born after I had been a Mets fan for about 20 years):

      “There are even better fans than you who can’t see the entire outfield.”

      Now, to this day I give her the benefit of the doubt that by “better fans than you” she meant “fans whose seats are more expensive than yours,” but I did my best to make sure that she never used that poor choice of words again. But things like this – and begging us to take action to verify our loyalty or else the team is going to keep sucking – is what we get.

      • Parth

        Unconscionable. But as off putting as her choice of words, the absence of any leadership and process to police this sort of thing is the real crime. There really is an air of arrogance which is so unearned.

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    When do people who don’t live in New York and are not true New Yorkers get their email?

  • metsfaninparadise

    Even if this ploy was Jeffy’s idea, once they realize what an allergic reaction the entire fanbase has had to it they’ll find a scapegoat and fire some poor schlub from the marketing department, thus confirming and compounding their tone-deafness. Although no more anecdotal criticisms of it are necessary, I can offer that I was born and raised in NJ and now live in Fla. Never a NY resident, but I used to tell people I wanted my ashes scattered over Shea Stadium. (Eventually.)

  • maryanne in totowa

    Great work, as always! When I was in youngster, I was told by my teacher to write a report about a writer. Most kids chose the famous ones….and since I was a die-hard Mets fan, I chose Mr. Ed Charles. I wrote to him at Shea Stadium. He graciously answered. He sent me a couple of his beautiful poems and described his writing process. To this day, he is my favorite Met of all time. Thank you, Mr. Ed Charles!

  • Great job, Greg. Although the team on the field has hit some lows lately, putrid marketing has been a long time issue. I gave up my season tickets after 2009 (after holding them the previous 25 years) as the arrogance of the ticket office had become unbearable.

    The Wilpons made their money in Commercial Real Estate and Ponzi schemes. In neither of those fields do you market to a mass consumer base. They are tone deaf to the concerns of the fans, and this latest gaff is one more example.

  • Been a fan from the beginning. Used to go to a dozen or so games with the wife and kids every year when we lived in Rockland County. Moved 50 miles north, so only make it to a couple of games a year now with one daughter. (Still costs about the same between parking $20, tolls $23, gas $30,tickets $50-$100, and a hot dog and soda each $20.)I know I don’t keep the Mets in the black, but the last 7 years, we have been to one winning game.(last years 4-3 win over the Cubs when Capt Kirk hit the 3 run dinger in the 9th.) Around 20 losses. How about Mets management becoming real New Yorkers and putting a decent product on the field first. I don’t know of any successful company that said, “Buy our product, keep buying it, and eventually we will improve it.” Sorry Wilpons, it don’t work that way.

  • Stan

    “Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one?”

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I would really love to find out the while backstory of how these E mails came about.

    What input did my new pen pals Keith, Ron, Cleon and Ed have, if any? I would think Ron, as probably the smartest of the bunch, at the very least would have said, whoa, WTF is this?? And was the formerly beloved Mookie on the original list until he declared himself a Hood Ornament?

    And how did Franco get in on it a day or two later? Was that planned, or was he omitted originally by some oversight and got wind of it and asked to be included?

    It is just so…weird.

  • SL

    As I recently wrote on another post, there are all sorts of reasons why teams lose a game, or even a year, but only ONE reason why they are bad in perpetuity – ownership.
    And bad is not just in terms of player personnel, it really manifests itself in hiring.
    Who is responsible for putting in a position of marketing responsibility someone who would come up with something so….. bush league as this pathetic email? Even worse, for putting into a position of authority someone who said to the person who came up with this ‘good idea, let’s run with it’.

    Truly embarrassing.

    • Steve D

      You said it perfectly…I’ll answer your question though…it’s the same people responsible for being a huge part of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, for not knowing their equipment manager was a thief for years and for proposing to put a huge shopping mall on the grounds where Shea Stadium stood. They are the people who managed to turn a team in the largest market into a small-town team, saddled with debt, who play in a mostly empty stadium. It is a nightmare that seems to never end. We were on to something with the “Sell The Team” shits, but I think the guy who made them now partnered with the Mets.

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