Derek Jeter’s tense but transparent town hall with Miami should serve as an example of how the New York Mets can better communicate with their passionate fans.
The New York Mets have come under widespread criticism for their frugality and lack of aggressiveness thus far in the off-season. Patience may eventually reveal itself as prudence but for now, fan frustrations are beginning to boil.
The New York media hasn’t been any kinder to Met brass and rightfully so–Newsday’s Marc Carig recently wrote a scathing piece about ownership’s lack of transparency and inability to provide the fans with a clear picture of the franchise’s plans. The refusal from ownership to communicate with a loyal fanbase is simply unacceptable, though the seemingly blatant ineptitude isn’t beyond repair.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon can look to an old rival to repair their relationship with fans. That’s right–new Miami Marlins part owner Derek Jeter, along with president of baseball operations Mike Hill, held a town hall style meeting to address season ticket holders and the Miami media.
Jeter won’t win this battle tonight. Not even close. But it’s a good step. Loria never made himself accessible to fans and media like this. Does that mean his plan will work? Of course not. But have covered Marlins for a long time and never seen this. It’s a positive.
— Will Manso (@WillManso) December 19, 2017
Jeter is in a situation arguably more delicate and intricate than the one the Mets are in. He was tasked with speaking for the first time after the trade of a generational talent in Giancarlo Stanton and all-stars Dee Gordon and Marcel Ozuna. The criticism was inevitable and Jeter met it head on. He didn’t shy away from questioning and stated that a plan was in place to bring success to Miami. The Wilpons can’t say the same.
Not even close.
The Met ownership has not publicly addressed payroll since 2014, as noted by Carig. A team in the New York media market continues to operate with a payroll that’s in the middle of the pack and no one can get a definite answer as to why. Of course, speculation that the Mets are still suffering from the fallout of the Bernie Madoff disaster, but to what extent, we can’t be quite sure.
Even if the Mets are financially handicapped, they owe it to their customers to address the state of the club. Present a plan with courses of action that outline how the team envisions being successful. Instead, they let Sandy Alderson joke that they didn’t need Stanton because Brandon Nimmo can play right field. Making Alderson do the dirty work as the “fall guy” year after year is incredibly condescending to those in demand of legitimate answers.
There’s no surprise he was recently given a contract extension.
During Jeter’s town hall–which is the first of several that he’s planned–saw some fans even seen crying, upset about the players that were traded away.
Fan now crying at the mic while talking to Jeter about Stanton and Ichiro gone. This has passed the surreal.
— Will Manso (@WillManso) December 20, 2017
Let’s multiply the emotions of a few Marlins fans by the passion of many New Yorkers. You may get a few pitchforks and torches if the Mets were to host a town hall, but that would at least represent an act of courage from ownership.
If the New York Mets can complete their winter shopping having acquired a second baseman and another legitimate bullpen arm, their turbulent start to an off-season can be salvaged. However, they will still have to live with the reality that they decided to slash payroll after a 92 loss season. That, and simultaneously insisting to their fanbase that competing in 2018 is still possible. This all will have transpired while their cross-town rivals continue to construct a roster normally only found in a video game.
While ticket prices are somewhat reasonable, parking and concessions are still at premium price levels. If the Wilpons are going to ask their fans to show up to Citi Field to invest their hard-earned dime in a franchise in which they love so much that the least they can do is have an open discussion about the club’s direction.
Jeter outclassed the Mets on the diamond many times during his illustrious career. After spending about five minutes in Miami, he has managed to do it from the owner’s box as well.