— Days Without Shea —

When Loge13 first launched way back on March 12, 2007, I decided to select as a nom de plume something that would pay tribute to one of my favorite Mets.

Hence Kingman.

I presumed this simple act and the massive traffic Loge13 was expected to attract would finally give Kong his due. We did have good traffic days in those early years when we fought to keep Shea standing, but sadly Kingman's stock never rose.

Thanks to David Einhorn and his money, however, that may change. As we mentioned last week, Einhorn was a huge Met fan and even dressed as Dave Kingman for Halloween.  This led the WSJ to ask "You Dressed As...Who?" A great article with a Kingman interview. Check it out:

Walking through the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum at Citi Field, you'd never know Dave Kingman played for the team. His face isn't among the busts on the wall. And among the items on display, which range from World Series trophies to Wally Backman's old luggage tag, there's nothing from Kingman.

After an exhaustive search of the ballpark, we finally found him on a wall near the entrance to the umpires' dressing room. But it's not exactly a loving tribute. He's one of six players pictured on an enlarged cover of the Mets' 1983 yearbook.

But last week, when David Einhorn announced he was in talks to buy a minority share of the team, he dragged the slugger they called "Kong" out of the mists of Mets obscurity. To demonstrate his allegiance to the Mets as a child growing up in New Jersey, he offered up a 1975 photo of himself dressed as Kingman for Halloween.

Had he been born a few years earlier, Einhorn might have picked Tom Seaver. Had he been born a few years later, he might have picked Darryl Strawberry. Kingman is about the last idol anyone would have expected.

But among Mets fans, Einhorn's choice of hero has had an unexpected effect: It has helped to bolster his Mets street cred. If Einhorn wanted to convince fans this is more than a financial investment to him, the Kingman photo was a nearly perfect play.

Who but a true Mets fan would fondly remember a largely forgotten player from an easily forgettable era? "All I can say is I'm very flattered," Kingman said by phone Wednesday from his home in Lake Tahoe, Nev. "We didn't really have great times when I was there."

Kingman played for the Mets from 1975 to 1977 and again from 1981 to 1983. The Mets were at the pinnacle of irrelevance then, a decade removed from their first championship and still years away from their second. They finished with a winning record in only two of the seasons Kingman spent with them and lost more than 90 games three times.

"The Mets wanted to win as bad as the Yankees did," Kingman said. "But it was an era where the Yankees were winning everything."

Kingman played outfield and first base, but he had only one discernible skill: the ability to mash a baseball. He would either hit a mammoth home run or strike out trying, with relatively few exceptions. Kingman's 154 home runs as a Met place him fifth on the club's all-time list. His 672 strikeouts also rank sixth. He never finished with a batting average higher than .238 with the Mets.

But when he made contact with the ball, it was a sight to behold. "Everybody remembers the championship teams and the years the Mets won," Kingman said. "But the home run is a big part of baseball. People do like home runs and I did hit a few out of Shea [Stadium]."

Einhorn is one of them. Although he declined through a spokesman to comment Wednesday, his mother, Nancy, said the family often attended Mets games during the 1970s. For David, it was an outlet for his love of statistics. He not only knew players' batting averages, his mother said. He calculated them himself.

On Halloween night in 1975, he took one of his father's white undershirts and, with a blue marker, turned it into a Kingman jersey. "I don't know why he settled on Dave Kingman, but Dave Kingman was his guy," Nancy Einhorn said.

Kingman, now 62 years old, spends his days hunting and fishing. He hasn't attended a Mets game since the team invited him to the closing of Shea Stadium in 2008. But if Einhorn eventually takes over as majority owner, he may have good reason to visit Citi Field.

Dave Kingman Day may not be far off.

[June 3, 2011 10:33 AM]  |  link  |  reply
ncb1gdog said

I remember the Kingman days quite well. He was our sole power threat back then, especially in his first stint with the club. More than his strikeouts, I remember the mammoth foul balls he would hit for an out. The fielder usually had time to go into the stands, order a hot dog & soda, eat it, then return to his spot to eventually catch the ball. LOL

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Filed under: Baseball | CitiField | Mets
by Kingman on June 1 at 10:19AM
The Kingman clan and most of us in Loge13 gave up our seats for Monday night's (Memorial day) game. We also traded our 5/18 tickets for tonight's Pirates game. The Kingman patriarch and matriarch will be going as I unfortunately have a conflict and can't make it.

And I am not alone in not being alone at Citi Field. Attendance continues to wallow and will only get worse, if and when the Mets start trading off our few marquee players.

Nate Silver of the 538 political blog went out to Citi Field Saturday night and was aghast at how empty the stadium was for a Mets/Phillies showdown on a holiday weekend. As a numbers guy, Silver let the data make his very dire point about the Mets attendance:

"The Mets' attendance, through their first 25 home dates (not counting the second game of a double-header against the Rockies, for which separate admission was not charged), is now running 13 percent behind last season's pace, which in turn ran 15 percent below 2009's. But the news is a little bit worse than that still, for two reasons.

First, the downward trend appears to be accelerating. Through their first 10 home dates, the Mets were averaging 29,281 fans, just barely behind last season's pace. Since then, however -- despite playing most of their home games against the Phillies, Dodgers and Giants, who are usually good draws in New York -- attendance has averaged just 28,024, versus 34,425 for the comparable period in 2010.

Second, this is happening despite lower ticket prices. According to data from Team Marketing Report, the average seat at Citi Field (combining what the Mets define as 'regular' and 'premium' seats) sells for $61 this season, down from $70 last year and $79 in 2009. This implies that the Mets' ticket revenues are running about 25 percent below last season's pace, and are barely half what they were just two years ago...


Rather than bore you with the details of a regression analysis that I conducted, which looks at these different factors, I'll just give you the conclusion: it suggests that the Mets are making something like 20 or 25 percent less than they "should" be making based on the size and wealth of the New York market, the quality of the team's play over the near- and medium-term, and the way that fans rate the stadium experience at Citi Field.

This isn't definitive proof of anything -- the margin of error on the calculation is fairly high, depending on which assumptions one makes. But it does provide further evidence that there are unexplained or "intangible" factors driving down the Mets' attendance and revenues this season, above and beyond the team's mediocre play."

Intangibles. I completely agree. This is more than just fans reacting to a good team playing badly. We have some good players. We also have bad ownership mocking those good players and clearly queuing up some of them for early dismissal. That same cluelessness is evident in the ticket plans and how fans have been treated by ownership. And this problem won't be fixed until new ownership is in place. Until then, enjoy the peace and quiet of Citi Field.

[June 1, 2011 11:28 AM]  |  link  |  reply
RustySlob said

...maybe some good news down the road. Maybe all this pain will lead the next group of owners to be more wise. And, shhhhhh, between you & me, it certainly feels like we're in a depression and a ticket to a ball game should cost about 10 bucks esp. when I could watch Kingman Jr. in a competitive game for free.

[June 1, 2011 2:09 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Doug said

New ownership won't make that big a difference. Do you go to Mets games to root for your team? Or do you go to Mets game because the ownership is just peachy?

You go because you root for the team.

So, the question you have to ask yourself is, "How much am I willing to spend, regardless of the product on the field, to see the Mets play live?"

And what I am afraid is, that for most, the cost fans are willing to pay to see a game is much lower than the cost predicted in the business model that MLB has penned itself. A $10 ticket is not going to improve the bottom line. $10 x 44,000 x 81 = $35.6 million. That's what? Two players? And that assumes you sell out 24/7. Someone's gotta pay.

As I have posted before, the cost of doing business and fielding a team is uber-expensive, and teams NEED the new stadiums to generate the revenues to make payroll. The Mets and Dodgers should be idiot-proof in terms of making money, but as we can see, the McCourts are barely making ends meet out in LA. The Mets needed to bring someone in order to operate effectively. It will get ugly in the Bronx if the Yankees stop making the playoffs like clockwork. All this... In New York and LA. What does this say for other cities that do not have the lucrative TV / Cable deals + population base to draw on?

Players are asking for (and owners are paying) higher salaries. How much are you willing to pay?

We know fans do not turn out in great numbers for a losing team. There are exceptions, but NY is not one of them.

I see this (not only in NY and LA) getting uglier in the near future. MLB's business model is not sustainable, in my opinion.


[June 2, 2011 5:27 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Paul said

So attendance is down at Citi Field this year, but my question is: What took you guys so long?
It wasn’t like the handwriting was on the wall. Have we forgotten how they left us hanging after the 2008 season? Great way to treat plan ticket holders. I also fell for what they finally offered us for 2009, but after that year was over I said enough!!!
I was not going to pay “infield prices” for “outfield seats”. So what am I missing?
Meaningful games…..No.
Exciting Games…..No
Being taken advantage of……Hell No.
The reason why attendance is down is because finally people are tired of Paying for Steak….when all that is being served it Ground Beef!

[June 3, 2011 10:13 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Doug said


What do you think is a fair price to see a game? Do you think a team can pay its players based on that ticket price?

I hate to write it, but the players are getting paid more than can be generated from the ballpark and TV.


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