Author Archives: mttlg

1992 Mets Draft Class Autographs

The Mets get less than you would expect but more than you think

Full list of 1992 Mets draft picks

Tonight’s big story is about the 6th overall pick in 1992. After a 20-year career, he will be walking off into the sunset, a sunset called Fenway Park. Yeah, I don’t get it either. In honor of the cream of the 1992 draft class crop, we’re taking a look back at the Mets’ picks in 1992. Those weren’t quite as creamy. Or much of anything else. Combined, all of the players drafted by the Mets in 1992 appeared in just eight games with the team. Only three made the majors with any club. And yet, the Mets’ 1992 draft was key in bringing another iconic player to New York.

     
1 Preston Wilson 1C Chris Roberts 1S Jon Ward 2 Steve Lyons

The autographs for this draft class begin and end with Preston Wilson. The nephew / adopted son of fan-favorite Mookie Wilson, Preston had name recognition working for him in addition to his prospect status. With the big guy off the board three picks before the Mets made the first of their three first-round picks (they received two comp picks for the loss of Frank Viola), Wilson was a reasonable choice. Looking through the rest of the names in this draft, it becomes apparent that there just wasn’t much elite talent on the board.

So what of those other two first-round picks? Um, not much. With plenty of players who would at least prove useful over their careers still available, the Mets walked away with absolutely nothing. Of their remaining picks, the only one who became a star player (albeit briefly) was Darin Erstad, who didn’t sign with the Mets. The third pick that would reach the majors was 20th-rounder Allen McDill, who did so with the Royals and didn’t do much. Neither did the players he was traded for. The Mets weren’t alone in failing to sign a future star at least; the Padres failed with Todd Helton, who would go on to become a franchise player for the newly-created Colorado Rockies. Of the players who did sign, the only big stars the Mets passed on were Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, who would both spend time as teammates of a certain someone on the Yankees.

Viewed on its own, it sure looks like the Mets made the worst of a mediocre draft class. Only 8 games in the majors for the entire bunch? It’s hard to do much worse than that. But things look a bit different when you realize why Preston Wilson’s Mets career ended after just 8 games. On May 22, 1998, after just two weeks in the majors, Wilson was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Mike Piazza to the Mets. Piazza would nearly take the Mets to the postseason in 1998 before signing a 7-year contract extension. With Piazza behind the plate, the Mets ended a decade-long playoff drought and made it as far as the World Series in 2000. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2013 and should be enshrined in Cooperstown soon (well, he should be there already…). And that’s how Preston Wilson (plus $91 million) helped to make history in Queens.

Selling Out at Citi Field

In which I make my case to be the next Mets Executive VP of Ticket Sales

Another dismal season is coming to a close in Queens this weekend and it’s hard to come up with reasons for people to buy tickets to see the Mets wrap things up.  Jacob deGrom?  Shut down, as is former Met and fellow breakout rookie Collin McHugh.  Juan Lagares?  Yeah, he’s shut down too along with Dilson Herrera.  David Wright?  You get the picture.  Even the Mejia stomp is likely off the menu with his sports hernia surgery scheduled for next week.  Even if the product on the field doesn’t entice, at least there’s all the team history at the park.  The Ebbets Field exterior, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda…  If you’re lucky, you might be able to squeeze into the tiny gift shop before grabbing a burger at Shake Shack and hanging out with fellow lost souls on the “we seriously needed to poll the fans to figure out what to name this thing” Shea Bridge.  Anyone who can sell people on this “experience” deserves a hefty bonus…

But that particular spot is vacant right now in the Mets front office.  We’ll let the courts sort out just how that vacancy came to be, but for now I’ll take a stab at how to market the Mets to fans who are struggling to keep from jumping ship to the Yankees, Blue Jays, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Rays, or reruns of the 1994 Expos.  And since I have never had a child out of wedlock, I at least meet that qualification.  For everything else, I worry that being a fan of the team might actually be a strike against me, or at least that’s the picture I get from watching the way the organization is run.  In any case, here are a few quick ideas for selling tickets to whatever team takes the field next year.

Season Ticket Holder Freebies

I may not know much about ticket sales, but I know that it all starts with the season ticket holders.  These are the people and/or corporations that pay up front for a guaranteed seat at every home Mets game.  Even smaller ticket plans are getting the royal treatment these days; buying tickets to 10 New Hampshire Fisher Cats games practically makes me a VIP.  Season ticket holders (and, to a lesser extent, ticket plan buyers) need to be treated properly to ensure that they keep coming back.

But that’s not what happens at Citi Field.  The most glaring example of disrespect to STHs is when seating-limited promotions are announced.  These special offers promise a limited item like a bobblehead with tickets in a particular section.  If you already have a seat elsewhere, you are told to buy another ticket and try to sell your usual seat if you want to get in on the deal.  The message this sends is clear: “We already have your money, we have no motivation to keep you happy.”  Other teams make sure that STHs are taken care of, why don’t the Mets?  The last thing you should be telling someone who has given you thousands of dollars (tens of thousands in some cases) is that they need to buy another ticket if they want a promotional trinket.  Maybe make it an option for an additional fee if the logistics are too complicated, but this needs to be fixed.  This wouldn’t apply to ticket plan holders, but we’ll make sure they’re taken care of too.

Ticket Trade-Up Program

How many times this season have there been empty field-level sections while the unwashed masses crowd into the upper deck?  That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if nobody is buying the good seats, why not let the people who showed up sit down there without having to bribe an usher?

Here’s how it works: put a few kiosks by the entrances with flashing lights or something to make them look exciting.  Starting a set time before the scheduled game time, people can scan their tickets for a chance at an upgrade.  Only a limited number of seats will be made available and upgrades will be awarded at random.  Each ticket or group of tickets (whatever was purchased together) gets one chance at an upgrade.  If they win, they can get a seat upgrade for just a small processing fee (because everyone loves processing fees).  If they lose, they get a coupon.  Everyone’s a winner!

Ticket Trade-Down Program

Let’s say you’re a devoted fan and the last person you know who will still go for a ticket plan at the start of the season.  There’s a game this weekend with a special 4 for $48 offer and your family is up for a game as a change of pace.  The problem is that your lonely plan seat cost nearly that much by itself and you would have little chance of getting much more than $10 back if you sold it.  You’re stuck choosing between taking the loss and going to a game with the family or going by yourself and letting the family watch on TV.  Or just giving up on the team entirely because your plan tickets lose most of their value long before the game.  But what if there was another option?

Paying for a plan up front guarantees a sale for the team.  So why shouldn’t they guarantee the value of your ticket?  Like with the bobblehead fiasco, this issue associates buying tickets early with losing money.  That’s not a good way to do business.  Instead, why not let plan holders trade the face value of their tickets down for multiple cheaper seats? (Exclusions and fees apply, excess value left unredeemed will not be refunded, all trade-downs are final.)  You could also potentially turn this into a trade-up, putting the value of one ticket toward a more expensive seat or even combining multiple tickets (if originally purchased together) to make the most out of a cancellation.  When the park isn’t selling out and the team isn’t winning, you need to sell your customers on value somehow.

Home Game Road Trips

Now we’re getting to the potentially LOLMets desperation moves.  If we can’t get people to come to the games, why not just bus them in?  After all, one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to going to a game at Citi Field is just getting to Citi Field.  Between train fares, tolls, parking fees, etc., there really isn’t any way to get to a game from outside of New York City for much less than $50.  There may be lots of fans out there in the tri-state area, but most of them would rather just watch on television.  Why not try to turn them into paying customers?

This would take a fair amount of market research and logistics to pull off.  Multiple bus routes, multiple stops per route, etc. would need to be figured out.  Maybe throw in some refreshments or a t-shirt or promo item or something.  And when everyone gets there, walk them up to the Pepsi Porch like they do for Bark in the Park so nobody gets lost.  The game becomes just one part of the experience.

The Elephant in the Room

Now, none of this addresses the big problem, the matter of what happens on the field.  Winning will put butts in seats more than any gimmick.  Well, winning or hosting Derek Jeter’s final game.  But since we lack the technology to scatter the end of Jeters career across the infinity of time and space, winning is all we have to work with.  And winning just hasn’t been happening much lately.  Maybe next year will be different.  Maybe ownership will start spending.  Maybe prospects will pan out and veterans will return to form.  Maybe the tickets will sell themselves and the problem will be that people can’t get tickets rather than that they don’t want them.  Until then though, the Mets need to embrace the fans who still stand by the team and do everything possible to make sure they enjoy the stadium experience.  Because blaming low spending on poor attendance doesn’t help anyone.

Hobby Inertia

Why some key Rookie Cards lag behind the rest

This is the tale of two pitchers. Both made their major league debuts at Citi Field against the Yankees on consecutive days this past May. Both pitched well but were denied wins because of the failings of the rest of their team. One would be sent back to the minors after four starts, only returning for a brief stint with two starts and a relief appearance before roster expansion. The other would spend the remainder of the season in the majors and would be a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. One would have Rookie Cards in two products by the end of August while the other had his first professional cards released just two weeks before his debut and, four months after his debut, is still waiting for his first Rookie Card. The one with two Rookie Cards despite only brief MLB appearances is Rafael Montero. The Rookie of the Year contender with no Rookie Cards is Jacob deGrom.

On the surface, this looks like just the luck of the draw. Some players get the royal Rookie Card treatment, others get overlooked. Most of the time, the difference is due to when a player debuts during the year. August and September debuts usually correspond to lots of Rookie Cards the next year, while late June and July debuts result in just a few Rookie Cards later in the year. The reason for this is lead time – the time it takes to incorporate a new player into a sports card product. Historical evidence suggests a minimum two month lead time for modern baseball card products. That mostly explains what happens with mid and late season debuts, but what about early season debuts? That’s where things get more interesting and the Montero/deGrom dichotomy takes shape.

One of my goals with this blog is to explore the connection between the players on the field and their cardboard incarnations. When it comes to when, if, and how often players receive Rookie Cards, a key factor is prospect inertia. A player with several baseball cards as a prospect is more likely to have Rookie Cards earlier and more often than a player with one or no prospect cards. It would be logical to assume that the same factors that determine whether a player will have cards as a prospect would affect their Rookie Cards. For that to be the case though, changes in prospect status would need to be reflected in a player’s cards. As we’ll see over the last four years, this is not necessarily the case.

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Product Spotlight: 2014 Bowman Inception

May contain trace amounts of MLB players

Last year, Topps added a premium thick card product to the Bowman lineup in the form of Bowman Inception. Unlike the other Bowman products, Inception features autographs on thick card stock with a mostly matte finish. For the subject matter, Inception mixes a few token RC autos (to appease the MLBPA) with a mix of top prospects.

Inception’s Initial Offering

Which is how we wound up with this pairing: Jeurys Familia, the default Mets Rookie with autographs in everything, and Travis d’Arnaud, the top prospect received in the R.A. Dickey trade. This was d’Arnaud’s first Mets autograph, but otherwise there isn’t much notable here. The concept may have been new, but the generic ballpark sky background and the focus on established prospects and Rookies took away any sense of excitement. Would things be any different the second time around? Well, sort of.

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28 July 2014 – Brooklyn Cyclones at Lowell Spinners

We have all lost the will to win

Last year, the second Cyclones night game in Lowell was rained out.  This year looked like it could be a repeat with the tarp on the field and thunderstorms rolling through at the scheduled game time of 7:05pm.  First pitch was delayed by more than an hour, but this game would take place.  This sloppy mess of a game that went on for more than three hours with six errors and countless more misplays that might as well have been called errors.  Nobody particularly dominated but the Spinners lost control in the 6th to hand the Cyclones an 8-5 victory in front of a crowd of dozens.

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27 July 2014 – Brooklyn Cyclones at Lowell Spinners

Bark in the Park is bad news for Katz

The Cyclones made their annual trip to Lowell on Sunday and three of MLB.com’s newly-announced midseason top 20 Mets prospects were in play for the opener.  Michael Conforto (#4) would drive in Amed Rosario (#7) for the game’s first run, but Marcos Molina (#16) didn’t have his best stuff on the mound and didn’t get any favors from the Brooklyn defense (including his own).  Down 3-1 after three innings, Molina settled in and the Brooklyn offense stepped up to take game 1 9-3.  The comeback was sparked by Michael Bernal, who entered the game in the bottom of the third when Michael Katz had to be driven off the field after an injury.

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