Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Omar & Jay: Please Make Los Mets More Accessible This Spring!!!!

Dear Omar Minaya & Jay Horowitz:

I have been a huge fan of the Amazin's since 1968. Finally, two springs ago, I realized a life-long dream in attending Spring Training with the Mets. I duplicated this last year for my 40th birthday, and will be doing likewise this Spring. The excitement of seeing players on the cusp get at-bats live before "making it", like Wright, Jacobs & Reyes, is very rewarding to a fan who has lived and died for his team, especially the potential of our minor leaguers, as I have for so long. I patiently waited for rookies like Terry Blocker, Gregg Jeffries and Shawn Abner to receive a single at-bat on television, watching every televised Spring game for that chance. I knew every minor leaguer in camp, in days that predated such luxuries as the internet and media guides being available to fans. Through it all, the excitement never left...until actually attending my first Spring Training. I guess the old adage that begins with "be careful what you wish for" is actually appropriate...

My best bud Jonathan and I took his son, my nephew, to Spring Training games both years (2004 & 2005), and he shared our excitement (as any 12 year old who is the son and nephew of 2 fanatics has no choice but to do so.) However, his excitement seemed to dwindle last year as, for the second time in 2 years, the Mets players were anything but friendly to us or most of the kids and fans in attendance. Mike Cameron did sign a ball for Matthew, and Joe Heitpas and Grant Roberts did likewise, but such stalwarts as John Franco and Cliff Floyd ignored our pleas, as did most of the minor leaguers scattered around the ballpark. It's a different story during the year in Port St. Lucie, as both my neice and nephew are members of the St. Lucie Mets fan club, and love running on the field with their Mascot, Slider. That's why they both found it hard to understand it when nearly the entire organization is together and seemingly NO ONE CARED TO INTERACT AND SHOW APPRECIATION TO THE FANS IN ATTENDANCE! I understand that the players have a purpose and a mission, from getting in shape to making the roster, but at the same time, it's not a small expense to fly in from Los Angeles (last 2 years) or Las Vegas (this year) and stay in Florida for a week, spending over $500 on Mets merchandise, not including tix, hot dogs, etc., and the least we can expect is that each day the players will sign some balls or programs for the kids! It's not like we're the only ones that come from out of town to Spring Training, as there are tons of fans from all over the country who come to Florida, seeking an end to winter with the best sound in the world, the first crack of that bat, signalling another season is at hand. For all of our sakes, a little bit of appreciation is all that we ask for our devotion, and it is so easy (and costs nothing) to give it to us. Making memories- that's what it's all about!

All these years later, I have amazing memories of meeting Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman at Lum's Chinese Restaurant in Flushing after a game, as they were gentlemen and didn't mind signing autographs when their meal was over if the kids (like me) were patient and pleasant. I remember walking into the Diamond Club with Newsday columnist Steve Jacobsen and his son, Matt (a school chum), as the likes of Skip Lockwood, Lee Mazzilli and Steve Henderson signed patiently and happily for us. I was there the day that Darryl Strawberry, in his first minor league season, was named Mets Minor League Player of the Year, and still proudly have the ticket stub that he signed for me. I proudly wear my Spring Training cap from 2 years ago, signed by Grant Roberts and Vance Wilson! I have balls and pics and programs signed by a virtual who's who of Mets over the years, and I have treasured all of them. And I have a lifetime of memories of players who went out of their way to sign their name for a starstruck kid who worshipped at their feet- and I want my nephew to have the same memories that his dad and I have!!! THAT is how a fan is made and maintained- it doesn't matter if the autograph is of a player who never makes it or is traded- it's the memory that a ballplayer took the time to stop and smile and sign for a kid that leaves a lasting impression and helps create a fan for life. Also, I was the guy, Omar, who came down to see you last year during the Spring when Spike Lee was sitting with you and shook your hand, not his, to both Spike and the security guard's surprise. YOU were the big star to me that day, and my nephew loved the sight of his uncle shaking your hand! Why can't your players emulate you??!

I feel like a part-owner of the Mets, because I have invested tens of thousands of dollars in them over the years, as well as my most valuable commodities, my heart and my time, and I am glad for every minute I've had as a fan, from bad times to the best times. I only hope that you will understand this and emulate other organizations, making players available for autographs before and after every Spring Training game this year! We still need all the fans we can get, and you both want this to be the classiest version of the Mets yet- this will go a LONG way towards making it so.

See you this Spring!
Warmest Regards,
David Rubin

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