Friday, December 4, 2009

Why I Won't Cancel My Ticket Plan

I received an invoice from the Mets a little over a week ago. Enclosed was a letter from the Mets, stating the obvious - they knew 2009 was an awful season all around, they knew that we knew, and they pledged to make 2010 better. I didn't believe them. Not because I think they're lying or being disingenuous, but because they can't tell the future.

If the Mets or anyone else could tell the future, the team would've been prepared for the rash of injuries that destroyed the roster last season. I appreciate the team's attempt at apologizing and promising better times, but I knew it wouldn't be something that swayed my decision - since my decision was already made.

I never once pondered the idea of not renewing my ticket plan. I've had a partial (Saturday) ticket plan with the Mets since the 2001 season. No, I wasn't a bandwagon fan who jumped on board after the 2000 World Series trip. I was a 17 year old who had finally convinced my father to purchase a ticket plan (2 seats in Loge Reserved, Row A between third base and left field) and come to the games with me.

For nine seasons, we cherished those seats in Loge Reserved. We made friends with most of the other plan holders who sat around us, and made enemies with the fairweather fans who came into our section and pissed us off. We imitated the vendors - everyone from the guy with the awful toupee, to the soda vendor who pronounced pepsi as "petsee," to the guy who sweated into his beer. The games were sometimes great and sometimes awful, but usually fell somewhere inbetween.

It was more than the games, though. It was knowing that any time the Mets were home on a Saturday, we would be there. For all the arguments fathers and sons have, there would never be one that took place at a Mets game. It was a time to sit in the sun, cheer for your team, curse a little, laugh a lot, and throw back a few. In 2007, when my father eventually got tired of dealing with all the traffic we had to sit in to and from the games, my friend Jeff bought his ticket and we split the plan until Shea Stadium was demolished after the 2008 season. Our last Saturday game at Shea was Johan's masterpiece against the Marlins that kept the Mets alive.

As the offseason before 2009 went on, we agonized over whether or not we would be offered a ticket plan in new Citi Field. We eventually were, but it was different than the one we had at Shea. Instaed of 13 Saturday games, we received 10 Saturday games and 5 weeknight games. This change was a problem for some, but since I work in the Bronx and my friend Jeff works in Manhattan, it wasn't a big deal meeting up after work to head to the weeknight games. We of course decided to get the plan, and our friend Charles came in with us and bought a 3rd ticket.

The seats we were able to secure in Citi Field were in Promenade Reserved, Section 527, Row 2...a far cry from our old seats that were in the Loge at Shea. But even though they weren't the best seats, they were still good. And they were a ton less money than we had paid at Shea (coming out to roughly $300.00 per seat for the 15 games - plus whatever we spend on parking and food). Every Met fan knows how last season turned out, so there's no need to go into that. We went until it was unbearable (which for me came when I was unfortunate enough to see David Wright take a fastball to the head). We enjoyed Citi Field, and even when the Mets were getting blasted, we enjoyed eachother's company.

My friends and I are enormous Mets fans. We follow the team 12 months a year, hang on every pitch, and look forward to every game. Our moods rise when the Mets win, drop when they lose, and go into the toilet when they drop a game in agonizing fashion. Our girlfriends can't understand why we care so much about the Mets, nor do we expect them to. We were born to root for this team, and take great pride in doing so. We DO care this much, and that's all that matters. No matter how bad the team gets, no matter how terrible the losses get, no matter how down the rest of the fanbase gets, we will always be there.

That's not to say that the losing doesn't have a huge impact on us. It affects us tremendously. We get pissed off, we storm around the ballpark by ourselves cursing and shaking our heads. When we're watching the games at home, we call eachother in disgust and throw our possessions at the walls when bad things happen to our team. Through all of it, the Mets remain our team.

We refuse to buy the negativity being spewed by the local and national media about the Mets. We aren't offended that our beautiful new ballpark has a rotunda that's dedicated to the man who broke baseball's color barrier. We aren't mad that the Mets haven't already signed Matt Holliday, unlike the delusional and impatient fans who are already thirsty for blood. We're aware that the offseason will play out slowly, and we hope that the Mets end up with the players they need.

Mets fans are different than Yankee fans. We're conditioned to not give up easily. We aren't spoiled brats who expect our team to win the World Series every year. We refuse to whimper in the corner because the Mets had one brutal injury ravaged season after having four seasons where the team averaged nearly 90 wins.

We will keep our ticket plan. And like the days I spent at the ballpark with my father from 2001-2006, the three of us will go to the ballpark together to cheer for the Mets. We'll sometimes get there early to tailgate a little, head to shake shack for a burger, and then settle into our seats. Every time we attend a game, we'll have our momentary escape from our jobs and our love lives and any nonsense that may be going on at the moment.

We'll enjoy the day or night, enjoy eachothers company, and hope the Mets win. We'll do those things because that is what being at a baseball game is all about. It's not a place to bicker over nonsense (like the rotunda or the media's controversy du jour), it's about enjoying the ballgame. If there are 2 strikes on a batter and Johan is in his delivery, we'll stand up and cheer (the fairweathers behind us can complain all they want). If one of the Mets drives in a run, we'll stand in unison and slap hands and beat the hell out of eachother in celebration. Unlike tons of other Mets fans who have been canceling their tickets in droves, we will be there. And come April, we'll be filled with optimism just like we are every season. That optimism will likely turn to sadness and disappointment sometime between April and late October. But if it doesn't, oh what a season it will be.

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