The Mets may finally be getting the hang of this public relations thing. The team announced Thursday that the average season ticket for 2010 would cost 10 percent less than it did this season, with cuts of as much as 20 percent in some locations. According to the team, every season ticket holder will wind up with a lower invoice than they had this year, although per-game ticket prices will remain the same in some instances.
The Mets say that the decision was made in deference to the economy, which is a lot easier than saying that we're charging you less because of how awful we were this season. The economic realities of 2009 were certainly a consideration, but someone in the Mets realized that they've got a pretty ticked off fanbase these days and keeping them in the building was going to take more than the promise that things would better next year when all the players were healthy.
That was true even before the news that Jose Reyes tore his hamstring became public knowledge, but was twice as true when the ticket pricing announcement was actually made. One of the linchpins that the Mets could use as a selling point for a brighter tomorrow is now a gigantic question mark as the offseason gets underway, raising the possibility that the Mets could be looking for help at shortstop in addition to all of the other holes that need filling around the league.
Reyes's sad season, gruesomely recounted by Will Leitch of New York Magazine on Thursday, has a lot in common with the generally sad year in Queens. It started full of hope, hit an unexpected rough patch and then kept on morphing into something progressively worse as the pages of the calender flipped forward. With his status, as well as that of players like Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana, diminished as a result of what transpired this year, it's hard for the Mets to seriously sell themselves as contenders next season.
That means they can't price themselves as contenders, regardless of the economy. And, while this looks good on the surface, there's probably reason to fear that this drop in prices foreshadows a quiet offseason, spending wise anyway, and a change in direction that might not bear immediate fruit in the standings.