It's no secret that New York Mets owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have been trying to find investors to put money into the debt-leaden club. What was a secret, until it was uncovered by Richard Sandomir of The New York Times, was what kind of perks the club was going to give potential investors, who would be buying $20 million stakes in the team. In the end, the benefits are a mix of alleged perks, weird sleepovers, and undeniably cool things with your name on them.
Quality time with Mr. Met
According to the terms sheet, the team's jolly, baseball-headed mascot will be "made available for Owners at Citi Field events," which makes it sound like he's the guest-of-honor at the creepy masked ball from Eyes Wide Shut. Because the kind of person who could sink $20 million into the New York Mets is the kind of person who could, hypothetically, be on the guest list for weird, Carnival-inspired orgies in a rented mansion on Long Island, the offer of Mr. Met is disturbing. It's also disturbing because it reflects everything that's wrong with the franchise right now: Mr. Met shouldn't be up hobnobbing in the luxury boxes with the rich guys who own slivers of the team. He should be in the grandstands talking to kids, walking in a comical way on top of the opposing team's dugout -- in short, he should be acting like a mascot.
"Business card with 'Owner' title"
Without a doubt, the biggest perk of buying a piece of the Mets is that you get to hand out business cards like this one, helpfully included in the section on investor partner benefits. It's not in color, but you have to think the orange piping will make it pop when you hand it out. Also note that it includes space to provide your fax number. This is rare and, depending on your perspective, a sign of the club's respect for tradition, or just a fondness for clunky, outmoded, and quasi-useless, which might help explain why they traded for first baseman Mo Vaughn in 2001 even though he weighed 275 pounds and signed closer Francisco Rodriguez for $37 million in 2007, despite his penchant for hitting walls with his throwing hand.
"One dedicated and named owners' parking space"
Not as exciting as the business card, but a good way to let people know you're a big deal, And the fact that each spot is named should prevent any misunderstandings if Maddoff trustee Irving Picard proves that Wilpon and Katz were "willfully blindt" to Madoff's ponzi scheme and comes to collect his $386 in damages, which presumably would include the plaque marking their parking spots.
Taking batting practice on an off-day
It's not uncommon to see baseball owners and their goofy middle-aged sons shagging fly balls during batting practice and maybe even a few quick cracks in the cage. (Washington Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner did it in 2010 and took a fly ball off the bridge of his nose, prompting one Nationals players to remark, "I've never seen blood gush that fast out of someone.") Mets investors can do this too, but not on game days. Instead, they'll have to be content to get their swings in on "annual Owners' work-out day."
One ceremonial first-pitch a season
That seems stingy, but if the club has to sell ten of the $20 million stakes to make up for the $200 million that hedge-fund guru David Einhorn was going to put into the team. There are only 81 home games a season, which means if the team somehow raises $200 million with these terms, 12.5% of Mets home games will have the first ball thrown out by a rich fellow who saved the team's bacon. At least big-time college football schools preserve some dignity by making boosters sit in sky boxes and not letting them run out to retrieve the tee on 12.5% of kickoffs.
Access to the "VVIP Owners' Area" next to the Mets dugout
At Citi Field, VIP Areas are for bums and deputy heads of mission. According to the team, the VVIP Area is right on the field, and offers "occasional player, manager, and front office visits while watching batting practice, as well as occasional visits to the clubhouse." We can't help but notice how frequently the word "occasional" pops up in that description. It's almost like they wanted to say the visits would be rare, unplanned, and usually when somebody is lost. On the bright side, at least Mr. Met is still going to be made available
"Owners' Night in Mo's Zone"
Mo's Zone is a groove in right field that houses picnic seating. We have no idea why anyone would want to spend the night there. Also, it's going to be completely destroyed once the fences at Citi Field are moved in, so anyone particularly excited by this idea should move fast.