The Subway Series Ain't What It Used to Be

The Mets are giving tickets away to games with Yankees

There's been a lot of talk about empty seats at games since the Mets and Yankees opened their new ballparks in 2009, but we never thought it would get to this.

The Mets are giving away tickets to this weekend's games against the Yankees at Citi Field.

There's no trivia contest rewarding those fans who best remember the highlights of Ed Kranepool's career nor is there a lottery or any other kind of gimmick attached. The only criteria is that you have to be a former season-ticket holder to Mets games. If you are, there's a chance you'll get one of the "high-priced, premium seats" that the Mets say "probably wouldn't sell."

One could think of worse marketing programs to get people back into the stadium, especially since it should help keep Citi Field from turning into a Queens outlet of Yankee Stadium. Still, it's shocking that one of the most anticipated series of the year has summoned so little interest that the Mets actually have an inventory of seats to give away for free days before the games actually take place.

This really doesn't bode well for the Mets' attendance during the dog days of summer. The team is already down more than 7,000 fans per game from their 2009 totals and if they can't drum up interest this weekend, how are they going to drum it up for a series against the Padres? Even taking into account that these seats are out of the price range of many fans doesn't mitigate the giant honking warning sign that we could be looking at a mostly empty stadium down the stretch if the Mets don't find some way to get people to buy back into this year's team.

The Mets, predictably, are selling this another way. Team VP Dave Howard said that the impetus for the move was the scrutiny being placed on their declining attendance figures. Admittedly, giving away tickets is a fine way to get the numbers looking rosier but the underlying issue remains the same whether or not bodies are filling the seats. Of course, Howard is the same guy who saw the garbage swirling around the field earlier this month as a positive because it meant people were buying concessions so perhaps "finding the bright side" is one of his job responsibilities

If that's the case, he should have himself a busy season as there's plenty of reason to find the positive both on and off the field right now.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for You can follow him on Twitter.

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