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Despite The 'Bad', Mets Making Fans Feel Good

It's not in my nature to start a Mets season on a sour note about what's to come. Over the last decade, I've paid my hard-earned money to Major League Baseball to provide me access, and I intend to get my money's worth, watching (or listening to) at least 150 games for the next 5-6 months. So even if the worst is possible and sometimes completely expected, why focus on that instead of the mystery and possibilities that is spring?

Yes, it's not spring in the Northeast. In fact, winter just dropped off its belongings and might be staying for a while. But that's the beauty of Spring Training. Mr. and Mrs. Met caught a truck weeks ago and the gates are open. If you strain as you shiver standing outside, the sound of impact from ball to glove is faint, but it's there. It's probably better to go back inside and watch it on a screen, but the sentiment is still the same. Baseball is timed with the change of seasons. The end of winter and thoughts of summer days, basking in a sun-drenched outfield and enjoying a baseball game. That's about half of the background images from Ken Burns' Baseball, and thanks to Steve Cohen, it is returning to Queens.

A few weeks ago, the Mets announced early-afternoon start times on Saturdays, the result of a fan survey that "favored earlier game times on Saturdays to bring children, family and large groups to the ballpark." Those are the Baseball images showing memories for life as children reach out towards their favorite baseball player, signing autographs and smiling for selfies. It's why you invest in "Mr. Smile" Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo, a true homegrown talent whose hustle to first base on walks is endearing to Mets fans and likely annoying to the opposition. 

Mets fans are enamored with the few peaks of prosperity from the past, whether that's the 1986 championship team or the initial era of success. Cohen is old enough to remember the Tom Seaver team from 1969. As owner, he made sure to retire #36 for Jerry Koosman, the other arm that helped to ensure the franchise's first title. He's since added Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez, and later this year, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry will have their numbers retired. When it's all said and done, Cohen will have retired half of the numbers at Citi Field, and that's not counting those who have been enshrined in the New York Mets Hall of Fame.

This isn't just appeasing the fanbase. This is the Voltron-like combination of countless phone calls to WFAN and every other sports talk option available to Mets fans for the bulk of my existence. This is the culmination of every Mets fan who's argued how and why the team should spend its money this way or that. Last year, they offered the most money to fill the third base hole with Carlos Correa, but his medical records didn't jive. A few months ago, they provided the same amount of money to Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who "got the impression that the Dodgers were very successful for a very long time." That's not the Mets yet, but that's what Uncle Stevie is attempting to be. The team is trying to do that by appeasing the current fan base and generating a new one. 

The allure of New York City still draws hundreds each day from outside the Tri-State area, dreaming about life in the Big City. Many of those dreamers are college students, and last year, the Mets offered a $15 ticket plan for college students. It's promoting to a younger audience, one that MLB.TV followed in kind last September. This is where I believe Cohen's money is making the team better. The little things around and off the field truly make an organization world-class. The idea of making the Willets Point Station a public entryway to a sporting complex sounds crazier than anything. However, it's possible when the owner is a fan with billions and willing to spend it on his team. There are reports about a new facility to help pitchers through analytics and technology, but one has to assume this will not be the only improved or upgraded facility.

The team unveiled a multimillion-dollar training academy in the Dominican Republic in 2008, and I'm hoping Uncle Stevie made sure it got a facelift after 15 years. I'm hoping there are similar structures throughout Latin America and beyond, similar to football clubs like Real Madrid, PSG, and Manchester United. Another European influence Cohen will bring to the Mets was announced with the 2024 promotional schedule.

"It's an interaction of art and popular culture and sports -- and why can't that be?" Cohen said to SNY. "We just saw it in the NFL with Taylor [Swift]. It's a marriage of different subcultures in a way that's fun and interesting and educational."

The subcultures in question connect the many artists, musicians, writers, and creative folk who love baseball, like the plumbers, Uber drivers, and office/WFH laptop jockeys. All in attendance during the Artists Series giveaway days will leave with a contemporary artist's imaging of the New York Mets. It's accepting all callers, combining the entire fanbase into one, with Cohen forming the head, and that's the truth.

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