Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Can Homegrown Mets Win Over Fans?

Can Homegrown Mets Win Over Fans?

By Mike Silva ~ February 28th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

There were reports this weekend of much weaker than expected Mets season ticket sales. I don’t think that should be a surprise after how last season ended, the lack of a big free agent catch, and the negativity surrounding the Madoff scandal. However, winning will change things very quickly. Remember, before Mike Piazza‘s arrival in 1998, they were averaging around 15k a game. Things changed with Piazza, but it was the wins that ultimately sustained attendance.

Although there isn’t a Piazza walking through that door anytime soon, there is a stable of homegrown players that could be very exciting. Very likely six of the eight positional players will be homegrown on opening day. By next season seven of eight individuals in the starting lineup made their way through the system. Don’t discount the impact of such a scenario as fans start to follow players the day they are drafted, through Brooklyn, and ultimately up the line to Citi Field.

I think most big time prospects should be required to spend a summer in Brooklyn. It’s a minor league baseball experience like no other, and a chance for them to connect with the community. Brooklyn is minor league baseball where money hasn’t come between fan and player. Spend some time down by the Cyclones dugout and you will see the type of connection reminiscent of the old Brooklyn Dodger days. For many fans at MCU Park this isn’t about development, as wins and losses stick to them more than anything that goes on at Citi Field. Talk to any longtime Cyclones fan and they closely watch every star that finds their way to a big league baseball field. Last summer, I had one fan rattle off memories of Carlos Muniz.

The point is the more players that star for the Mets that came through the system, the better chance a fan connection will be made. This season players like Ike Davis, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell, and Angel Pagan are former Cyclones that will play a big part in the 2011 Mets. In an age of Twitter, blogs, and Facebook, many fans already know a lot about Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Fernando Martinez, and Jenrry Mejia. For as little as Lastings Milledge produced in a Mets uniform there was a real fan connection to him that resulted in disappointment when he was traded to Washington. Again, he was homegrown and anticipation followed his ascent through the system.

You are seeing something similar across town as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are loved by Yankees fans. They are starting to get excited by Banuelos, Betances, and Brackman, three young pitchers they call the “Killer B’s.”

That’s why it’s important to keep the homegrown stars. If Jose Reyes shows he’s returned to form the organization should make every attempt, within reason, to keep him around. It’s exciting to think that 10+ players that put on the uniform this year could be homegrown. These won’t be fringe call ups either, most have a shot to play a significant amount.

Again, the wins and losses will determine if the fans flock to the ballpark. However, I think giving Ike Davis, Josh Thole, and Jonathon Niese every opportunity to succeed here will go a long way with helping fans connect with the team. You could hear fathers talk to their sons about how they watched Ike “struggle” in Brooklyn, and how far he’s come in the big leagues. The story of Josh Thole, a kid that nearly was cut from the low A Savannah ballclub, only to make it as the Mets starting catcher four years later will become part of team lore. Who knows, fifteen years from now Niese could become the Mets version of Andy Pettitte, posting 200 plus wins, and pitching big postseason games.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but the point is there is a good nucleus of homegrown talent that has promise. Watch it grow in 2011 and perhaps that’s the secret behind putting Madoff, Omar Minaya, and Jerry Manuel in the rearview mirror.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
Mike Silva
View all posts by Mike Silva
Mikes website

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook

1 Response to Can Homegrown Mets Win Over Fans?

  1. Russ

    While I agree in the importance of the emotional connection fans develop towards home grown players, it’s important to remember that those same home grown pieces of talent have a secondary value that if used right can bring back players that the fan base will have the same emotional attachment to.

    Paul O’Niell (Roberto Kelly), Tino Martinez (Russ Davis & Sterling Hitchcock), David Cone (Marty Janzen & 2 other non MLB prospects) and others are examples of guys who were acquired for home grown talent who developed a strong emotional attachment to the fan base.

    It’s not just about developing top prospects but also in determining which are keepers and which are currency.

    Even A-Rod is part of this group. Lost in all the talk about his contract, is the fact that if the Yankees didn’t develop Alfonso Soriano into a star, they would have had no chance to acquire A-Rod. Currently, Granderson & Swisher fall into that group as well.

    The thing is, the Mets have simply had a poor track record in determining what kids are keepers and which are currency in the past few years. It’s a big problem and one they need to correct if they are going to improve their player development. It’s a double edge sword and something they need to improve on in the future..

Leave a Reply