Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Autograph This!

But wait! You have the Mets all wrong! If the Mets were to clean off Dwight Gooden's autograph, it would have been done with Mets history in mind: by Bret Saberhagen with a bottle of bleach.

This whole Doc Gooden autograph flap is three parts hysterical and two parts pathetic. As I'm sure you are aware by now, Gooden had the audacity (note sarcastic tone) to sign a blank wall by a Citi Field bar as a cute little spontaneous act. The Wilpons, upon learning that Gooden neither pitched nor was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided to wipe the autograph clean. Many fans, including myself, thought that the autograph should stay and become the start of a makeshift mural of famous Met signatures ... you know, kind of like throwing a bra up at Hogs and Heifers.

The Mets, at first, took their familiar stance of anti-fan. Here's the part that got me:
"We still plan on honoring our past, but there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it." -Mets P.R. Director Jay Horwitz
To me, there was never any doubt that the Mets, eventually, would put up more Mets memorabilia around the park ... whether it was because they were taking their time getting around to it or whether they were going to cave in to fan pressure. The Doc autograph forced them to do it sooner rather than later. But in the Mets world, as in most business settings, there's a right way and a wrong way.

Translation: If the Mets had come up with the idea of former players autographing a wall and making it a mural first, that would have been the right way. Because somebody outside the organization thought about it before the Mets braintrust could, that was the wrong way.

But, eventually, the Mets changed their minds. Here's Horwitz explaining why:
"We got a lot of calls on this and it was a topic on [sports radio] all day, so we're going to listen to the fans. This is a way for us to honor our past."
Is the Mets organization really that clueless as to not have an inkling about the fans desire to have a new park that honored their own? Really? They had to wait for the issue to hit sports radio? Fans have only been talking about the owners' obsession with the Dodgers and their perceived ignorance of Mets history for weeks and months!

Years, even.

Yet instead of recognizing a cool idea as it's hitting them over the head, they wait until they get some bad PR on sports radio before listening to their fans and saying "all right, you got what you wanted ... here's some ice cream to take to your room", and then ... and this is the best part ... telling us that this was "a way for us to honor our past."

"Us" ... didn't do a damn thing to honor anybody or anything. Mets fans honored their past by screaming bloody murder about it. Hell, the New York Post honored the Mets' past more by originally bringing it up. "Us" made a decision based more on avoiding bad PR than "honoring our past."

Remember when Doc was at Modell's? Various bloggers got to submit some questions for him (which was supposed to be an honest to goodness Q&A but the party was in kind of a rush), and I actually got a couple of mine answered. I asked how it felt to be back at Shea and about the ovation he got after so many years away from the Mets family. Here's what he said:
"The ovation they gave me, just now gave me chills. The fans here have been very forgiving to me, and they’re supportive at all times. And that’s just a great feeling. It was great to be back."
I bring that up not only because I was going to bring it up anyway (his favorite and most influential Met, by the way: "Keith Hernandez, undoubtedly"), but because here's one of the most popular and one of the best Mets ever, a guy who spent a lot of time away for various reasons, who is now making inroads to become a part of the family again, and the family is embracing him. And the Mets, in one fell swoop, have threatened to screw it all up for no good reason.
"Last year when I came to say goodbye to Shea, the ovation the fans gave me made me want to come around more, but when things like this happen, it makes me feel like maybe the Mets don't want me around," Gooden said. "Maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know."
Well why would they want him around, when the CEO of Spongetech or Armando Reynoso is just a phone call away when they need someone to throw out a ceremonial first pitch?

I'm a Mets fan. They were my first love. But the Mets are a business first, a brand second, and somewhere down the list they also play a little baseball. And it's never been more apparent to me than right now that I root for a business. I should just root for IBM, or Nestle. Or Sanford L.P. (They make Sharpies, you know.) It's really no different.


Coop said...

Damus - right on. Did you hear with Horwitz (who hates us bloggers and fans) and his response to the informal Shea Goodbye set when the fans did a tour of Shea on its last legs? The press was all over it and they called the Mets to see if they wanted to participate (as a PR thing). The director of Mets PR said - and I quote - This is a FAN thing. Why would we want to be involved in that?

That says it all.

As for the hate list, why is CMW on the top? I figured he would be not a figure on the list, since he's getting shelled with the Skanks...

Unser said...

Have you ever listened to Dave Howard? The man sounds like a B school professor first and foremost. They've been doing this since at least as early as the '70s. And, yes, they're completely reactionary. It's the one area they've been consistent in.

One point re: Gooden. It's clear he thought he would be booed last year, during the closing ceremonies. It's time to remember what he did for this franchise in '84-'85. He was a phenomenon, a total happening. And of all players on those great Mets teams, he was the one who put fannies in the seats.

Unknown said...

Very well said. While we are on the subject, why the heck do we still have Sweet Caroline as our 8th inning sing a long. Didn't we have this whole song and dance (no pun intended) to change it last year. Is Neil Diamond one of our sponsors?

I know it's just a song but its a perfect example of how the Mets would rather steal another team's traditions than make their own. Meet the Mets would be a fine sing-a-long. Maybe if we put up enough of a stink, they will claim that they have always had it in the works but were working on buying a new cassette tape.

Lisa Swan said...

Metstradamus, even this Yankee fan is nodding her head in agreement at this. Between what the Mets are doing, and the Yanks freezing out fans - including Freddy the Fan, it's sad how our team's management is forgetting about the people who pay their salaries.

And the Mets do have stuff to be proud of. Outdrawing the Brooklyn Dodgers, for one this. I wrote about it today in Subway Squawkers:


Hazeleyes said...

I don't know about Mets management these days. The fans want Doc around and I hope he is around often this summer. Whatever he has done in his life, he still has the abiding affection of the majority of fans and I am always delighted to see him. I loved his impulsive act and I think all alumni and current players should sign the wall now that Doc has gotten it started.

Here is a question. The Yankees made a huge production of moving Monument Park to their new home. The Mets for some reason are waiting for engraved invitations to honor their own history. Why is that? The Wilpons are aware they own the Mets and not the Dodgers, right? It disturbs me that they are so business-like that they cannot have any fun with anything. No wonder sometimes the players look like they have constipation on the field. The "Thou Shalt Not Have Fun" memo must have come down from upstairs.

These people know how to ruin a good moment every time.

Or at least a good Mets moment. They would probably invite every ex-Dodger to the sign a wall before even thinking about the Mets.

I kind of hate them and wonder what it would take to get them to sell. Sell to a decent group of actual Mets fans.

Anonymous said...

probably your best post i've ever read ( I've been reading regularly for about 2 years). At this point, I have never been more disgusted with the mets or ashamed to be a mets fan. Citi Field, no matter how gorgeous or "world class" is the worst thing that could have happened to this organization. They have become the perfect symbol of greed and big business in america.

Ceetar said...

That we're rooting for a business is the unfortunate turn that baseball is making. And unfortunately, hoping the Mets to be different would be almost like hoping they wouldn't compete, because it would be hard to unless they embraced the business aspect of it. Hell, the Reds only have like 13 games in HD a year. I'd rather the Mets cave into some of the business crap than just flat out not compete, but I wish they had someone that was better at the balance between them. It's not about the Dodgers; it's just a facade and a rotunda, neither of which you see once you're actually inside.

I could do with less of Michael Almonte who sings the anthem like 10 times a year though.

James Allen said...

I have been mulling over this autograph thing and the tone deaf Met management and first I think back to what I wrote a week ago on the Productive Outs blog:

[It] seems to me that Mets ownership have an inferiority complex: they see the Yankees and their new stadium and all their history and in order to "compete" with them they have to appropriate the history of another franchise, Jackie Robinson being the key to this appropriation. It's tremendously cynical, is what it is.And I have been given no reason in the last week to think otherwise. The Brooklyn Dodgers are what's important to these people, and Jackie Robinson is the insulation to the criticism. They can bathe in the goodness of the rotunda, pat themselves on the back, and wonder what people are complaining about because Jackie Robinson is a historic figure when, of course, Robinson isn't the point.

Now this Gooden thing comes along, and after saying they'd erase it, it takes WFAN and the Post and the News to get it through their thick heads that it would be terrible thing to do? Do these guys think before they open their mouths? Do they not know a golden opportunity when it's handed to them on a silver platter? Apparently not. The fans are going to have to bitch and moan every day to get more of a Mets presence in this park, and apparently everything the Mets are going to do they are going to do as grudgingly as possible.

Imagine, 6 whole games into the history of a brand new stadium and this is what we're talking about. Damn.

P.S. But hey, it could be worse, we could be talking about wind tunnels or somesuch phenomena.

James Allen said...

By the way, I just noticed your hate list for today, and #4 is the Brooklyn Dodgers, which points out something else that has happened here: backlash. Mets fans (most born long after 1958) are starting to feel antagonistic towards the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And see, we're still calling them the "Brooklyn" Dodgers as if they are a dead franchise when the fact is the Dodgers still exist. They moved. I hate tell the Wilpons to "get over it" but, guys... um... get over it.

Krup said...

very little baseball...

SS said...

Thanks for the link! If you ever have something hot you'd like to share with folks over at my place, lemme know!

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. The Mets are worried about a lousy signature when they play at CitiField, sponsored by our TARP money? Shouldn't it be called Bailout Field? How about Rewarding Failure Field?

The Metmaster said...

Hey Hazeleyes,
A few more Wilpon investments with some of their "friends" and you might get your wish!
I totally agree with all the points about this new shrine to Brooklyn and the Dodgers. Does anyone else feel the same way about what uniforms the Mets wear like I do? How magnificent did they look on Sunday in their traditional pinstripes and blue caps?! I hate that all white home uniform with the piping around the neck, a la the Brooklyn Dodgers. Even Keith Hernandez commented on how good they looked and how much he hated the piped uniforms. I don't care what the hell they wear on the road. Let them wear that black and blue crap. But at home they should wear the old, traditional pinstripes and royal blue.

T-Man said...

Come on everyone stop it already. Yes I agree 100% that the wall signing should stay and be enhanced it is a great way to create some history in Citi. However, everyone forgets the green seats and exposed blue steel honor the Polo Grounds. Citi honors our past and our future. Am I the only one that notices the FanWalk or the great pictures around the stadium. Some people act like they are not proudly displaying our championship banners.

Would you really want those disgusting Orange and Blue seats back please no..

I think the only complaint that I have heard that is valid is that the outfiled wall should be blue but that is it. Get over yourselves and let's talk some baseball.

Benny Agbayani said...

I sympathize with the hurt feelings of Met fans on this issue. Unlike the Yankees, Mets ownership have no regard for tradition and history. Say what you want about Steinbrenner, but he's always honored the Yankee tradition. The new stadium (I haven't been there yet) appears to be a monument to that past.

To be beholden to the Dodgers and dismissive of Gooden's actions is a really bad mistake (Horowitz is an idiot). Lets face it, Shea was a dump but it was your dump. The successes there should be carried over and not swept under the rug for a fresh start. No one can deny that 1969 and 1986 were incredible years in this city and shaped New York baseball fans for a generation.

My hope is that economic realities will cause Met and Yankee management to reduce ticket prices and do a mea culpa by offering something reasonable to fans. When Lehman Bros, AIG, and Bear Stearns don't occupy the expensive seats, perhaps things could open up for real fans.

That may be wishing for too much.

Lastly, I also think its interesting that both franchises have built new state-of-the-art ballparks with the two highest payrolls in MLB and all the publicity has been about steroids (A-Rod), Wind Tunnels (Yankee Stadium), historic losses (Yankees), bizarre openers (Mets), and shunning of tradition (Mets). Not the way the Steinbrenners or Wilpons, or the fans for that matter would like to have seen things play out.

James Allen said...

Yes, let's talk some baseball...

Another day of Ollie being Ollie. For a guy so supposedly unpredictable he so... predictable.

P.S. Off topic, but what a rough way for the Devils to go down. Yikes.

bleedinblueandorange said...

spot on man really i agree with you 100% and the sad thing is i work for this business, i mean team sorry

Metstradamus said...


You mean the championship banners that they tried to sell through Meigray? Check the top of the list.

weesle909 said...

Great post, really. For many reasons - so I wanted to acknowledge before we moved on. Nice job.