The Mets released their promotional schedule on Saturday, a moment I always relish. Exactly what free stuff will come to me, simply because I get to watch a baseball game?
This has been a cause close to my heart for many years, dating back to the free Juan Samuel glove I received at Veterans Stadium just before he got traded to the Mets, and while others grow out of caring about such things in their 30s… I’m not that guy. I was led to believe if I wanted to be gainfully employed and convince an attractive woman to raise a family with me, I’d have to give up such childish things. Good news, kids: not even close to true!
As in all things in recent years, the team the Mets are chasing is the Phillies. A number of issues I raised in that column linked to above have been resolved: the Mets now offers the opportunity to customize plans, both six-packs and larger. They let you vary your seat locations as well.
There are some gaps, that remain. The most glaring is that while Phillies promotions are for all fans, the Mets limit the quantities: first 25,000 for the full giveaways, first 5,000 for children. In other words, the Mets create a scenario by which a child who sits in traffic- usually, due to timing problems not of his or her own making, then spends three hours watching everyone else playing with something. That’s how you build brand loyalty?
As a whole, though, the Mets are competitive with the Phillies in terms of giveaways and general promotion for the first time I can remember. Let’s break it down by month, with useful commentary provided by previously-mentioned attractive wife, who I will be bringing, along with kiddie, as instructed by the song.
APRIL: The Mets get out of the gate strong. Love the texting gloves on April 7 as an idea with a Verizon tie-in; my wife did too, though she did not commit to wearing them. As people who re-use shopping bags, the April 21 promo is useful as well, and I look forward to giving my daughter a Tom Seaver bobblehead along with discussion of his role in Mets history.
I think the Phillies have the Mets beat, but that’s partly a result of on-field success. Their Opening Day giveaway- a 2011 pennant- wouldn’t mean quite the same thing to Mets fans. The April 11 t-shirt looks really nice, though, and they have multiple schedule magnet giveaways. Add in the Phanatic bank- an equivalent from Mr. Met would be awesome- along with two dollar hot dog nights, and April in Philadelphia looks like the place to be.
MAY: Looks like Palmer’s didn’t return for their cocoa butter giveaway for Mother’s Day, and the Mets didn’t replace it. The Phillies, by contrast, offer a ladies’ scarf on Mother Appreciation Day, along with a nice Liberty Bell hat on May 14 and a collector’s truck on May 20. Add in another dollar dog night, and it is a good May at Citizens Bank Park.
But while the Met giveaways in May are limited: retire the damn collector’s cup already, in Greg Prince’s honor, and give away copies of his book instead, and the nameless drawstring bag is a bit of an unknown- I like the Rusty Staub bobblehead on May 26, and I love the return of Banner Day, long overdue. This was the promotion my wife was most excited about, and wasn’t a giveaway at all. That’s telling, I think.
JUNE: Alas, here’s where the Phillies really open up a big lead. They start with a Phanatic children’s book on June 1. There’s a cap giveaway on June 3 for men 15 and older. (All men. Not first 5,000. I get irritated just typing this.) There’s a Cliff Lee bobblehead on June 4, a Phillies print on June 23, a Jonathan Papelbon t-shirt on June 24, and not one, but two fireworks nights. Two! The Mets have… two fewer than that.
What do the Mets have in June? A visor on June 2- not really sure who wears visors. A cap on June 3, because no one wants to wear a visor. The undeniably awesome Keith Hernandez bobblehead on June 17. And that weird cap trade promo on June 22-24 against the Yankees, the kind of promo that says, “Sure, we’ll grudgingly do something for you, but first, you gotta do something for us.” Oh, and it’s only the first 5,000 fans.
ADVANTAGE: Phillies, by a ton
JULY: A huge Mets rally, here. The Mets give out mini bats on July 7. (Wife: “We can have mini bats, but they take away our bottle caps?” I guess they fear the choking hazard.) A Mr. Met poster on July 8. An Edgardo Alfonzo bobblehead on July 21. A t-shirt on July 22. A Dunkin’ Donuts gift card on July 24. Really solid month, Mets.
And the Phillies take it easy in July. A Phillies print, a Roy Halladay Fathead Jr.- which is a fantastic giveaway, incidentally-and photo day. But when I explained Photo Day to my wife, her eyes grew wide- on the field? Taking pictures with your favorite players? Why don’t the Mets do that? I don’t know, attractive wife. I don’t know.
ADVANTAGE: Mets, but not by as much as it should be
AUGUST: The month is essentially a draw. For the Mets, a travel case on August 11, a tote bag on August 12, and a Mike Piazza bobblehead on August 25. For the Phillies, a Jimmy Rollins cooler bag, a Hunter Pence bobblehead, another dollar dog night. Tie goes to Piazza.
ADVANTAGE: Mets, slightly
SEPTEMBER: This has to be a joke. My wife was aghast: “Maybe it didn’t load. I’m going to reload.” Nope. The Mets don’t have any promotions for September. Not one. By contrast, the Mets gave away both headphones and a green t-shirt last September.
The Phillies? There’s a knit hat on September 7, a Cole Hamels action figuring on September 23, and the usual Fan Appreciation Night on September 27. There’s another dollar dog night.
ADVANTAGE: Phillies, by September 2007 proportions.
Overall, my wife and I are excited about an array of giveaways this year. The five bobbleheads are huge, the return of Banner Day is going to be epic, and I think the Mr. Met poster is a sneaky-good addition to the haul.
The Mets have made up some ground, but the Phillies still lead, for now. They don’t need sponsors for things like Banner Day and Photo Night- fans just want to be closer to the field, the players, the action. Worth remembering, Mets. And that September metaphor isn’t one I care to think about.
But baseball, and Mets-related giveaways, are around the corner. That is reason to celebrate.