Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Popular Attraction

I was not on hand at Citi Field on Saturday, which I've been hearing was probably a good idea. That's not to say I didn't make an attempt to do so. See, I had a pair of seats from a game late last season that was rained out, and usually, the rain check policy is that rainout tickets are good for one year. So I hung on to them thinking I basically had time to exchange them out. But earlier this month, I'd heard somewhere that these tickets could only be exchanged in April, and so I contacted my account representative (Yes, I actually have one of those) and she confirmed that yes, because the game had been made up as a day-night doubleheader, they made the rain check good in April only.

This created some trouble for me, because I could only attend certain games, and there were only certain home dates, and as it turned out, I'd had tickets on every possible April date I could attend except for April 30th. So I mailed the tickets back to the Mets, Byzantine as that may seem, and requested April 30th. I figured that shouldn't be a problem.

A few days later, I received a call from someone with Ticket Services (not my account rep), telling me that they "were out of inventory" for April 30th, and would I like to pick another date. I asked if there was anything available, and they told me that the only available seats started at $108 per ticket. I passed on that, since the only time in my life I've ever paid over $100 for a ticket was a World Series game. Instead, I exchanged the tickets for Friday night, the 29th, and shrewdly exchanged the tickets I'd originally had for that night to another game later in the season. As a result, I got two free shirts and a 12-run inning.

The reason, of course, that April 30th was so popular was the allure of the Noah Syndergaard Garden Gnome. I've talked in the past about how I, and many other Mets fans, have this bizarre attraction to some of the kitsch they pass out at games. I have, over time, acquired a host of Bobbleheads, rally towels, beach towels, calendars, fandinis and the like, and most of it has either been sold or sits in a closet collecting dust. I've developed a distaste for these promotion dates in recent years because for whatever reason, they've been limited in quantity and only doled out on weekends, when I don't usually go to games anyway. Because the Mets had been lousy for so many years, I was able to collect on some limited-amount giveaways when I was on hand, even if I was slightly on the late side of arriving.

I've heard grumblings that this is now no longer the case.

In watching the game yesterday afternoon, I heard Gary Cohen make mention of the fact that people were lining up as early as 9 or 10AM to be one of the first 15,000 people in the building and receive the Syndergaard Gnome. If I'd gone to this game, I can assure you there was no way in hell I was arriving at 9am and for a 4pm start time, it wasn't likely that I would have been there any earlier than 3pm. Had I done that, of course, I would have probably been stuck on line indeterminately, and shit outta luck when it came to getting a Gnome. And had I plonked down upwards of $100 a ticket with the intention of getting a Gnome and not received one, I would have been livid, to say the least.

So in this case, the joke isn't on me, but I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Metstradamus' assessment of the situation. This is, of course, "the way things are done" now in the sense that any sort of business practice can't be done without in some way fleecing your customers, but it's really not proper or fair to the people that pay enough money for tickets and are probably going to spend even more on concessions no matter when they get in the building to get shut out on the promotion because they didn't show up ass-early. Complaining about these things in general is more or less like talking to a wall sometimes, but I wonder if this is one of those things where if enough people make enough of a stink, the Mets might start to listen and not limit these giveaways so much. I have so many Bobbleheads because when this whole thing started, it was given out to everyone who came to the game. But then, at some point, everyone turned into the first 25,000. Then 20,000. Now it's 15,000. At the rate we're going, they're just going to turn it into door prizes for the first 100 people and it's going to be some demented version of a Black Friday sale. I'm not sure how else that can be described when you're holding an event when you expect 44,000 people to show up and you're giving something special away to only the first 15,000. I'm sure some people were more than just a little upset about this. I can only imagine Ratso Wilpon is behind this crap. This seems like the sort of thing only a jackass like him could cook up.

But I digress. I played no part in this particular michigas and as such my only concern about the game was the game, and that went well enough, at least early on, when Jacob deGrom was cooking and the Mets jumped Matt Cain for 4 early runs, thanks to the usual suspects, Neil Walker and Michael Conforto. Conforto later hit a Home Run, because I guess he was getting tired of all those RBI doubles, or maybe because he's the hottest hitter on the planet right now, as did Wilmer Flores, and things seemed perfectly under control. deGrom had a 1-inning hiccup as a result of an ill-timed Flores error but for the most part things were fine, the Mets had a 3-run lead and everything was hunky dory.

Then, Addison Reed had a hard time of things in the 8th inning, and all of a sudden the Giants had come to life and appeared primed to steal the game away when they loaded the bases with no outs and the always irritating, always awkward Hunter Pence coming to the plate. Reed departed for Hansel Robles, who gave up a pair of fly balls that were a bit too deep for comfort, but not deep enough to accomplish anything further than a Sacrifice Fly, and thus the score sat at 6-5, and the Giants would ultimately get no closer than that as Jerry Blevins finished the 8th and Jeurys Familia, unavailable on Wednesday and unnecessary on Friday, worked a clean 9th inning.

So, the Mets have now won 8 in a row and that's 8 games where they've really controlled the proceedings from beginning to end. This is really how you expect a first place team to play, and yes, I know the Mets aren't actually in 1st place, but at half a game back they're close enough and they're playing the way we expected them to play. They totally wasted Atlanta and Cincinnati and they've stuck it to the Giants in the first two games in this series. So if they're not getting slowed down by the really good teams either, then you know things are going really well.

In fact, things might be going so well right now that you don't need to give away limited Garden Gnomes to the first 15,000 fans as some hackneyed ploy to get people to show up early.

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