New York Mets: 10 Creative Ways to Keep Fans Engaged All Year Long

Shale BriskinContributor IIIApril 16, 2012

New York Mets: 10 Creative Ways to Keep Fans Engaged All Year Long

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    Although the New York Mets have gotten off to a 6-3 start, they are still not projected to contend for the postseason this year. As a result, once the Mets start to fall apart, if it happens, it's likely that many fans will not care as much about the team for the year, which would result in a lack of ticket sales and general interest.

    If this turns out to be the case, the Mets will need to get creative and think of a few ways to keep the fan interest present. Being that it's the franchise's 50th anniversary season, it would make coming up with ideas a lot easier because many fans want the team to really pay tribute to its past players and teams.

    Here are 10 creative ways the Mets can use to keep the fan interest at a high level all year long.

1. Lower the Ticket Prices

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    If the Mets are trying to get more fans to come to the ballpark throughout the season, regardless of the on-field results, one way to potentially make this happen would be to lower ticket prices even further.

    For the current season, Mets tickets have fallen to as low as $12 for the Promenade Reserved section. However, on April 11, the Mets rolled back ticket prices starting at $2.50 as part of the 50th anniversary of the Mets' first game in franchise history. It is yet to be determined whether this ticket pricing will occur again during this season.

    The current economy might still be going through the same recession that has plagued our nation for over six years now, but having the $2.50 rollback ticket prices could happen more often, if not throughout the rest of the season because it would definitely attract a significant number of more fans that would go to the ballpark simply due to the ticket prices. If the prices remain as is, the Mets could be losing out on this potential financial gain. Again, this is just an idea that the Mets could keep in mind in case the team does not play well for most of the remainder of the season.

2. Great Seasons from the Mets' Star Players

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    The Mets were widely projected to finish last in the NL East this season, mostly due to their young and rebuilding team, plus their inconsistent starting pitching. However, the Mets have now gotten off to a 6-3 start, but it could be that the Mets are overachieving and could start to fall apart within one or two months. Regardless, this does not mean that every player on the entire team will have a poor individual season.

    Offensively, David Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are all widely projected to hit over 30 home runs and drive in over 110 RBI apiece. If all three stay healthy, there will be absolutely nothing stopping them from reaching those numbers. All three are likely to make the National League All-Star team as well, with Wright and Davis both having particularly great chances at being elected to start through the fan voting.

    Furthermore, if Jason Bay ever starts to resurrect his career, it will only give Mets fans another reason to watch the team play. Finally, rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been playing very well after being called up prior to the second game due to Andres Torres' calf injury, and there is every reason to believe that Nieuwenhuis will be in the mix for the NL Rookie of the Year award. If he keeps playing as well as he has so far, he should, without question, finish at least second or third in the vote, and he will have a great shot at winning it, too.

    On the pitching side, it's always fun to watch Johan Santana pitch, as long as he is healthy. R.A. Dickey and his knuckle ball can be fascinating to view as well, and there is every chance that he could have an even better season this year. But the one Mets pitcher to watch this year will be Jon Niese. If he keeps pitching the way he has in his first two starts, he will win over 15 games, make the NL All-Star team and become one of the most promising southpaws in the league.

    This might not be the year for the Mets to contend for the postseason, but at least four of their starting fielders and two of their starting pitchers are all very likely to have great seasons. This of course means that the loyal fans will keep watching and going to the games, just to see their favorite Mets All-Stars perform.

3. The Big Prospects Might Make Major League Appearances in 2012

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    Not only will the Mets have great established players, but at some point this season, they might bring up their biggest prospects, especially if at least one of Johan Santana or Mike Pelfrey get traded by the trade deadline.

    The Mets' three big pitching prospects of course include Jeruys Familia, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Familia and Harvey are both on the Triple-A Buffalo team, while Wheeler is for pitching for the Double-A Binghamton team. All three of these right-handed pitchers throw hard and have great control. It's very likely that Familia and Harvey will both get called up to the Mets by September, at the very latest. Wheeler, on the other hand, might get called up to the Mets by September as well, but his chances are not as likely.

    The Mets may also bring up some of their top offensive prospects, which include players like Matt den Dekker, Jordanny Valdespin and possibly even Cesar Puello. Injuries to the Mets are the most likely ways for these players to get called up, but if trades or lack of performance occur, these players could be in New York sooner than later.

    With the Mets in a rebuilding stage, the future of the team is in the minor league system. If the fans are able to really see what the future could look like, they can start to get optimistic for years to come. All in all, the Mets are building for the future and it will pay off later.

4. 'Met of the Day'

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    Being that it is the Mets' 50th anniversary season, the Mets could do more to honor their history by having a "Met of the Day" both in the stadium and on television.

    In the stadium, the Mets could honor a different historical Met at each home game by having a short video of each player, what they did for the Mets and maybe even a video of those players today saying things like "Hello" and "Let's go Mets!" If possible, the Mets could even have those former players appear at the stadium and give a curtain call so that the fans can cheer for them. This is not something that will necessarily happen for sure, but the fans would definitely appreciate it.

    As for the television viewing, the Mets could also have that same "Met of the Day" event right after a commercial break, for example. There could be a short video clip, followed by a list of statistics as a Met. Then, of course, the Mets' announcers could always have a short discussion about that player, what he meant to the team and if possible, any personal connections those players made with Mets color commentators Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.

    It would be nice if the Mets could do this for the fans, but unfortunately, this is not likely to happen.

5. 'Mets Moment of the Day'

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    The Mets could also do a "Mets Moment of the Day" to reflect on all the great and memorable moments in team history. This could apply to both the in-game experience and the television viewing experience.

    Currently, SNY, which is the Mets' television network, occasionally shows some video clips of past Mets moments, but there is no follow-up discussion after the video clip is shown. If the Mets' announcers could discuss the event a bit and talk about what it meant to not just them, but the Mets franchise itself, that would be something that the fans would definitely enjoy.

    There is a better chance of this not happening, but it is something to keep in mind with wishful thinking that it actually will occur later this year.

6. Fan Questionnaire with the Mets' Announcers

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    It goes without saying that the Mets have one of, if not the best group of television announcers in all of sports. Gary Cohen is a natural at being an excellent play-by-play announcer, while former Mets Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are both great commentators and provide very intelligent insight to each and every game they call.

    The fans love the Mets' announcers and most of them enjoy listening to them every day. At one point, the SNY website offered fans a way to ask questions to the announcers that they would answer during a game. If there was a way to bring this back to not just television viewers, but also for fans at the stadium, that would be something the fans would love.

    On television, fans could submit questions on both the Mets' official website and the official SNY website and the announcers would read maybe up to three of them each day. The questions would be answered live during the game and it would be a great way for fans to hear their name on television.

    At the stadium, between an inning, a few random seats across the stadium could be selected for an opportunity to ask the Mets' announcers a question that would be heard throughout the stadium. The questions of course would have to be simple and not too time consuming. The fans, though, would really appreciate it and it would give them another incentive to be at the ballpark on any given day.

    Whether or not this happens is something that only time will tell, but again, the fans would love for this to happen and the Mets should seriously start considering it, if they have not already done so.

More Stadium Events Regarding the Mets' 50th Anniversary

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    Any sports team's 50th anniversary is special in its own unique way, and the Mets should really give back to their fans by holding as many 50th anniversary-related events as possible.

    The Mets are already honoring each decade of the team's history per month, which includes a respective bobblehead of a certain star player from each decade. However, the Mets could do more to honor their history by having, for example, an All-Star Mets team for each decade. The team itself could vote on the recipients, or the vote could be given to the fans as well. It's always nice to envision the best group of players from each decade in Mets history, but if those players could all be together at Citi Field, it would be quite special.

    If the Mets All-Star team per decade idea does not work, the Mets could also keep it simple by having a 50th Anniversary Team celebration. The Mets did this in 2002 to honor what was their 40th anniversary at the time, and if the fans could vote on this and see the honored players at a Mets home game, it would be quite special for the fans to enjoy.

    The Mets are honoring their history right now, but they could always do more to give back to their loyal fans.

8. More Memorabilia Events

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    One idea that could instantly result in more ticket sales would be if former Mets players would appear at the stadium before the start of a game to sign autographs and pose for pictures. The best location within the stadium for this would probably be at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

    At each game, former Mets players of the respective decade being honored that month could appear at the stadium, sign autographs and pose for pictures. The Mets and/or the former players themselves could charge extra money for this, but a good number of fans would take advantage of the opportunity regardless. Just actually meeting and bringing around the players that fans idolized while growing up is a priceless moment in and of itself. Thus, the Mets could improve ticket sales and really give back to the fans by potentially making this possible.

9. Retiring a Few More Numbers

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    As many fans know, only three former Mets have had their numbers retired by the team. The first was original Mets manager Casey Stengel, the second was former manager Gil Hodges and the only actual full-time player to have his number retired by the Mets is Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver.

    This list of retired numbers is not that big, especially compared to that of other baseball teams. The Mets' criteria on this matter is pretty much unknown to the public, but if the fans could possibly know the actual system as to whether players deserve to have their numbers retired or not, it could answer a lot of questions that fans may have had.

    Regardless, there are certain former Mets who deserve to have their numbers retired. Very strong cases could be made for Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter because both of them were team leaders for the Mets in the 1980s and had significant impacts on their team's success. Their former teammates, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, are two of the best homegrown players the Mets have ever had, and despite their personal troubles later in their lives, cases could be made for them as well.

    But the one former Met that really deserves to have his number retired is future Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, who was the face of the franchise from 1998-2005. Piazza was the heart and soul of the Mets teams he played for, and he led the Mets to consecutive postseason appearances in 1999 and 2000, which included a trip to the World Series in 2000.

    With Piazza's first year of eligibility for the National Baseball Hall of Fame coming in 2013, the Mets will probably not retire his number until the Hall of Fame induction itself occurs. However, if the Mets are really desperate on ticket sales, they could retire Piazza's number this year and expect a definite sellout for that day. If it does not happen this year, it will happen in 2013 for sure.

10. The Loyal Mets Fans Will Remain Interested in the Team Forever

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    No matter what happens to the Mets in both the present and future, there will be enough loyal and devoted fans that will stick by the team no matter what. This is a quality that Mets fans have, mainly because the vast majority of Mets fans are true diehard fans and not bandwagon fans like half of the Yankees fans in the world are, for example.

    The Mets could lose 100 games each of the next 20 seasons and there will still be hundreds of thousands of loyal Mets fans out there who will still cheer for the team because they are genuine fans. In other words, the Mets' organization should not get too worried about losing a lot of fans if the team does not play well because most of these fans will stay true to their allegiances.

    Historically, the Mets may not be the greatest sports team ever, but their fans are unique and very devoted towards cheering for their team. Again, this cannot be stated for fans of every team.