Oh, the Mets. They never fail to produce fodder.
In a quest to get to the bottom of their pesky little issue of not being a good baseball team, the Mets have made a concerted effort to limit distractions at Citi Field before, during and after games. The NY Daily News spoke to a team employee who outlined some of the necessary evils of playing in the Major Leagues that the poor Mets have to deal with on a nightly basis:
According to Mets employees speaking on the condition of anonymity, the front office this year has focused on eliminating what had been an overabundance of distractions before home games. Will these changes make the ball travel farther? Of course not, but they are being implemented in the spirit of, well, why not try everything to confront a persistent mystery?
I’d argue that having past-his-prime Curtis Granderson batting cleanup and Lucas Duda approaching the middle of the lineup explains the mystery, but what do I know?
What about those distractions?
For years, Mets players have been asked to multi-task while the team is at home, with some traveling around the city for charity/PR work during mornings, others being trotted out for evening meet-and-greet duty for ballpark VIPs. The team tries to accommodate pregame media requests from print, radio and television, and holds various events, including nights when fan bloggers receive credentials granting field and dugout access.
OF COURSE! It’s the one night a year bloggers are allowed near the stadium that is costing the Mets during their other 80 home games.
All of this is standard in MLB, not unique to the Mets. But it is unique to operate in a market this large, with so many more people, media and otherwise, vying for players’ time. So the team’s higher-ups have been quietly paring down the pregame distractions, even reducing access for their official broadcast partners within an hour of game time.
Yes, because no other team in baseball has dealt with the New York media crush and succeeded. Oh, wait:
Team employees have also noticed significantly lighter crowds of people standing in the roped-off area behind home plate during batting practice. While the Mets would not confirm that they are in fact issuing fewer field credentials for VIPs, one rank-and-file-level staffer said, “It’s obvious that there are way less people back there this season.” That means fewer autographs, handshakes, and interactions that distract from baseball.
Team officials do acknowledge that there has been a concerted effort to give players more time to focus on preparation, and eliminate all types of distractions, especially after 6pm for home night games, and that the directive came from high levels of the organization.
“We’re happy with the changes we made, but ultimately it has to play out on the field,” Alderson told the News’ Kristie Ackert. “As far as in the clubhouse, with the pregame schedule and timing, we’re happy with what we are doing.”
I can appreciate the effort get an extra edge. In fact, there was a whole book written about how that sort of thing worked for the Rays. But it feels like the Mets are just grasping at straws at this point. Their home record thus far this season? 9-13.