Saturday, August 28, 2010

This Is the Last Time

People have asked me to weigh on my unusually silent stance on the CitiField Sit Out that was supposed to have occurred Wednesday, August 25. Well, I do have some very good reasons for not posting -- I started a new job this week, plus I was actually at the game on August 26, so I have not been around to blog let alone, well, surf the Internet or anything. It's nothing to do with being ashamed or whatever. I'm actually proud of the experiment, for better or worse.

So I will weigh in. First off - some of the Twitterverse who are following me asked me if I was going to run another one. Uh, I think that answer would be a big fat NO unless others were willing to help spread the word and actually participate. See, I think that Matt Cerrone over at Metsblog weighed in perfectly on this -- he said it smacks of the old "boycott ExxonMobil for a day to get oil out of reserves" emails back in the day. I totally agreed with that and to a certain extent thought of it myself with the original seedlings of the event being planted.

Another reason why I've been so silent on it is that, and this is a huge confessional time is this: I never believed it would work. Shocker, right?

Here's the thing: I can't even take full credit for the idea. However, I was willing to take the proverbial ball and run with it to see how people would respond.

I was on Twitter one night after a particularly demoralizing loss. Some fans were lamenting the season. I won't say that I am a total optimist, but I never quite stop believing until the mathematical chances of being eliminated are finito. But this year may not have been as taxing to my psyche (as well as my liver) than others because I came in with low expectations.

That is to say I am not entirely NOT disappointed. I am, and I think everyone else should be too.

But this is where the interesting feedback and fallout have come. See, those who have followed the Coop and My Summer Family knows that she is not afraid to say anything. Like this Sit Out, I knew people would go to the game, and I knew it would not make that big of an impact. However, other fans believed very strongly in the idea of a peaceful demonstration, rather than a walk out or complete boycott of anything Mets-related, that I felt like there was enough support to warrant it.

The issue from that fallout was that most fans who agreed to not attend the game were probably not going to attend anyway. I had two sets of tickets, which I ate. But I was going to sell them on Stubhub anyway. On the flip side of that, I would have taken a huge hit on both sets, since I doubt I would have gotten face value or anything close to it. So it was no big loss to me, although I was not really in a position to do so. I'd been funemployed for the last five months and my husband is notoriously very frugal. On a side note he was not able to sell his tickets for Thursday's game on StubHub and they were marked down considerably. Not to mention, we saw a massive walk out before the game was even close to ending once it was evident that they weren't coming back.

If someone doesn't go to a game, another person gladly will. Physically no one sat in my four seats for this game, and maybe they wouldn't have sold at all. Some people I've met over the years claim to "not watch professional sports" as some kind of self-righteous stance. And my retort has always been, no one really cares if you or me attend the games. The owners, of any sports, not just the Mets or in baseball, want their corporate dollars. Without them, there is no team. And that's the truth. Sure, the fans are the people who live and die by the team sword...but our dollars aren't what makes the income statement flourish.

I was, quite frankly, humbled and a bit embarrassed by the coverage the Sit Out received (thanks to Lisa Swan at Faster Times and Kevin Kaduk at Yahoo) -- especially since I was the figure head that tried to organize this.

I'll be honest though -- I knew, deep down, it would not make an impact. I knew about 20K fans would show up. I even spoke about this very topic with Miss Dee Wrighter because shortly after MetsMerized Online started to promote the Sit Out, I felt the need to go ahead with it instead of cancelling it (also because my dear friend Lady PAC started calling the FAN about it). Big ups, by the way, to Lady PAC because she hosted a party with 55 people, with a Mets-themed dinner as they listened to the game on her deck. This is the way a Sit Out party should have been catered!

I felt like a hypocrite though because I wanted to believe in something like this, however my heart wasn't truly in it from the get-go. I think many fans knew that, even my Twitterverse that helped me with the idea in the first place. I knew just MOI is not influential enough to get people to sway my way. And that's fine. I just had to see if it could remotely make some kind of impact. It did not, and it's time to move on and think of other ways to make this organization notice us.

This exercise has also shown me a few things, actually things I already knew and figured out on my own, regarding the Sit Out and just professional sports, in general:
a.) People will still go to games (I even said that in my Faster Times Q&A that they could lose every game from here on out and I will still find a way to go)
2.) Fans, of any sports not just baseball or the Mets specifically, are apathetic, for lack of a better term. As an example, I am a Ranger fan and one of my best friends is a season ticket holder. Every year, he is not given a reason for why he should buy the season out, but he does...I know how he feels. Perhaps my explanation over at ESPN should shed some light on why I am a fan (again, this answer could apply not just of the Mets but any sport I follow). I guess to everything (turn turn turn), there is a season. And to every season, there is a sport...that fans will want to participate in no matter how bad their team is (except for the Pirates -- their stadium was like CitiField West last weekend).
D.) That fans are INCREDIBLY territorial about who they root for and why.

The D.) choice is potentially one of the items I was most shocked about. I never realized that this idea, which I felt personally was peaceful and the most non-confrontational of others that were being floated around, would be so incredibly divisive. I felt that the people who were most dead set against the Sit Out idea were the people who knew the least about it or wanted to hear about it. I guess it's sort of like politics: you are for one side or the other. Yet, you always find fault with "the other," even if you refuse to see what the "other side" has to present. I am just as guilty when I know my party is far from perfect.

So what, pray tell, is a "fan?" My friend J-Sol posted the actual Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Fan, which is:
noun 1: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator
2: an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit)

I write about the Mets. I talk about the Mets, not to mention baseball, to anyone who will listen. I love going to games, and go to about 30-40 games per year, home and on the road. I own merchandise. I live, breathe and eat their product. I argue with holier-than-thou Yankee fans who think they know everything about baseball because they root for a winning team. That's to say, there are plenty of games I own, as a season ticket holder, that I do not attend. Does that make me, personally, a "false" or "fake" fan? Because that's all I've heard about "true fans." Sometimes, I can't make it. If I can't sell it, I eat it. That's the way of the road.

But who the hell are YOU, brother or sister, to decide what a "true fan" is? I know at least four people whom I know would have participated in a Sit Out if they didn't already own tickets but were committed to going. Trust me, I pale in comparison to their fandom. And they wanted to participate! Go figure.

Joe D even posted a great write up on that very topic, about how 70% of fans are pretty levelheaded, but there are 15% who are overwhelmingly positive, 15% who are overwhelmingly negative. That's to say, there is no pleasing either of those 15% pendulums. To them, you are either a "fan" or not. What I find is that especially with the eternal optimists, no one else is a fan BUT them. If you show one iota of negative energy, you can't be a "true" fan. Let alone take anything you ever say out of context.

I am a blogger. I don't go the passive-aggressive route of taking a stand without really taking a stand at all, while claiming to be controversial while not really raising important questions that people want to hear. I say what I mean, mean what I say and without my disagreeables, I wouldn't have a site. I've often said I'd rather have 10 people disagree with me than having 1,000 people licking my ass telling me how great I am. I know I'm not great -- I'm just a fan with an opinion and a love for writing.

Yes, I just called myself a fan. As I said before, if someone decides not to go a game, I'm sure there is someone who would much rather go in their place and will most of the time. That said, it's tough to quantify how many people did not attend the game due to the Sit Out, didn't hear about it, or just didn't care.

In other words, don't blame the Coop or the Sit Out for 27K paid attendance and whatever went through the turnstiles (possibly less than that, since this was a mini-plan holders game). People will go, and that's that. I sat out Wednesday night. If one of my blolleagues wanted to try something like this again, and I had tickets for it, I'd do it again if I felt the cause was justified. I reacted to how the majority of level-headed fans wanted...and I'm not losing any sleep over not going to the game or how it turned out. Because I knew that was how it was going to turn out.

Oh speaking of solidarity, my buddies over The Apple did a nice little piece about the Mets response to the Sit Out...yes they had a response. And it was a very weak response at that :) (only read if you understand satire).

So as Keane once said, this is the last time that I will say these words. The Sit Out experiment is complete. If we can mobilize more people into action next time, give me a call but I will not attach my name to it next time. I've seen enough Haterade this time around to justify doing it again.

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