Following the Mets' 2008 World Series triumph, city-wide euphoria, and follow-up 2009 National League pennant, it is no surprise that the Phillies are well ahead of the Mets when it comes to creative ideas and promotions for selling 2010 tickets, especially following Philadelphia's nightmare 2009 season.
Sadly, only part of that paragraph is true, and it isn't the part about the Mets winning back-to-back pennants. But the Phillies have already brought out an array of ticket-buying choices that make me almost want to go to Citizens Bank Park, before remembering that I'll be surrounded by Phillies fans. Considering the role our peer environment plays on our own well-being, I can only assume trips to CBP, much like the television camera, add 10 pounds.
But the Mets, I believe, can learn a lot from what the Phillies are doing -- off the field.
Let's take the big picture issues to start. Philadelphia already has not only their season-ticket plans for sale -- full and partial plans can be purchased -- while the Mets are still stuck in the renewal process. In other words, if you wanted to buy a Mets partial plan for your significant other for a holiday gift ... you can't.
The Phillies have even started offering six-packs. And these are infinite varieties of awesome. They have a Boston Red Sox pack, geared around Red Sox Nation. There's a Mets pack, allowing you to buy tickets to any two Mets games and four others of your choice. They have a fireworks pack, a fan appreciation pack (was there a Fan Appreciation Day at Citi Field last year?), and each one allows you to customize.
Yes, Mets fans, that's right -- you can pick the games you want, instead of being assigned the games the Mets want you to buy. The Pick'em Pack is the ultimate example -- you get to pick all six games. Also, did I mention if you want to, you can vary your seats by game, allowing you to be up close for the Nationals but further back for the Marlins?
If the Mets think not allowing for this kind of customization is going to lead to more people buying tickets for the lesser games, they ought to think again. The result will likely mean people are unwilling to buy 15-game plans.
Of course, those people don't even have the option to buy them, yet.
And we haven't even discussed the promotions.
The Mets have yet to make their 2010 promotions public yet. The Phillies have. So we don't know if the Mets will, as they have year after year, limit their giveaways to the first "X" amount of people to enter the ballpark. But the Phillies, as usual, have no such restrictions.
In other words: if you are 14 and under, you don't need to be one of the first 5,000 14 and under to get the Ryan Howard NLCS MVP baseball and collectible tin. You'll get one.
Think about that for a minute. You're a kid 14 or younger. Through no fault of your own, your parents get stuck in traffic. You get to the ballpark, and the giveaway promised by the Mets is completely gone. Then you sit in the park, watching your peers playing with their new toy, while you have to hope someone left one under the seat at the end of the game.
That's how lifelong fans are born?
The Phillies also do a tremendous job not limiting most of the giveaways to children, something the Mets have done in recent years. I have been to several Mets Build-a-Bear Days and faced the unsavory choice of either going without a bear or beating up a child just to get a bear of my own. I don't want to tell you which I chose.
But in 2010, all Phillies fans get a National League pennant on Opening Day. All fans get a Cliff Lee bobble-head doll on May 18. All fans get the Carlos Ruiz bobble-head doll on August 24.
More to the point, the holidays are around the corner. While single game tickets aren't on sale yet from the Phillies directly, it is easy enough to go on Stubhub.com and buy individual tickets for particular promotions. If you want to buy someone Cliff Lee bobble figurine tickets, you know which date to purchase.
If I want to buy my wife a pair of tickets to Luis Castillo bobble ball day, I'll have to guess when that is. And if you don't think promotions matter, my wife's undying loyalty to her Mets lunchbox, the Mets' best promotion of 2009, says otherwise.
And we haven't even discussed Dollar Dog Nights. The Phillies have six of them. One of the most gastronomically rewarding nights of my life was a drizzly night on June 6, 2000, when I watched the Phillies and Devil Rays battle it out with eight of my friends, and by friends, I mean hot dogs.
I mean, this stuff isn't rocket science. People like free stuff. People like to choose what games to attend. People like to give actual presents in time for the holidays, rather than a note saying, "I'll be getting a call from the Mets in late January, and will pick out your Hanukkah present in time for the Chinese New Year."
Considering the work to be done by the Mets in reaching out to a fan base that, let's face it, hasn't had a ton of on-field reasons to come see the Mets, the Phillies shouldn't be this far ahead.