The Nub

The Challenge of Attracting Fans with the Fire Gone

(Posted: 12’23/11; e-mail update 12/24)

 Snap Quiz: What do the Mets and the Democratic Party have in common? Answer: loss of their sparkplug. The Mets, generic buy we know, sales decease allowed the man who gave them fire, recipe Jose Reyes, to get away to Miami. The Dem team has held on to Skipper Obama, but saw his early spark die, and watched him become an ordinary political player.

Mets fans can console themselves – while staying away from CitiField – with the thought that even the presence of Reyes could not have ignited the talent-light 2012 team into NL East contention. The Dems are assuring themselves that, given the disarray of the GOP would-be presidential team, even their spark-less skipper is safe from defeat next November.

The Mets front office must brace for a further falloff of attendance that went down dramatically last season; dropped off despite a comparatively respectable lineup that often included marquee players Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and, for awhile, Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez. None of the holes they’ve left, we know, has been filled. And what lies in store for the Dem team? A fall-off in support, certainly. But, if Team GOP cannot field a strong Obama opponent, the bench wisdom insists, what is there to worry about? At a meeting of Democrats in Manhattan last week, a prominent former NY office-holder had a cautionary answer. He warned that the current Republican sideshow will be long forgotten when the one-on-one political world series begins. Team GOP’s surviving starter – whether it be Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or even Jed Bush – will have unlimited media money (thank you, Citizens United) with which to bash Skipper Barack for the still-soft economy.

The latest scouting report of National Journal’s polling team identifies the skipper’s overall vulnerabilities. Team observer Ron Brownstein suggests that they could give his opponent a decisive offensive edge: “The share of non-college white men and women, and whites aged 45-64, who said Obama’s policies had diminished their opportunities was more than double the portion that said his agenda had increased their chances. Given that each of those groups voted heavily for McCain in 2008…it would hardly be surprising if they oppose Obama in even larger numbers next time.

“Obama faces an even more negative judgment on the impact of his agenda from whites in the prime child-rearing years (between 30 and 44) as well only slightly more favorable reactions from college-educated white men and women and all families earning at least $100,000 annually…Taken together, all of these patterns suggest that if Obama wins a second term, he is more likely to receive a lifeline from the white upper-middle class than their working-class counterparts, whose economic discontent and pessimism is hardening.”

Turnout will thus be decisive. Only this time (as noted), with the spark gone, Team Obama cannot expect to draw nearly as many voting fans as it did in 2008. And Team GOP is a sure bet to add to its numbers. Not a sparkling early-innings picture for the skipper. 

Furthermore”The ‘Occupy Iowa Caucus’ campaign is urging Democrats to reject the compromise-prone president and back a slate that is committed to pressing for more progressive policies than those adopted by Obama and his administration.” – John Nichols, The Nation

– – –

Beltran a Redbird: Carlos Beltran fans in the East – many of them, anyway – were surely hoping that he would wind up with reported AL East suitors, the Red Sox and Blue Jays. It would have meant seeing him dozens of times on regional TV games. Instead, Beltran will try to help the Cardinals recover from the loss of Albert Pujols. Money saved when Pujols jumped to the Angels made possible the $26 million, two-year contract that lured Carlos to St.Louis. Meanwhile, the Nationals, by dealing for talented A’s starter Gio Gonzales, have become the first NL East team to respond to the bulking up of the Miami Marlins

Curbing an Eager Cubbie: Theo Epstein apparently has been too avid in raiding the Red Sox for off-field talent. ESPN’s Gordon Edes reported on this repercussion: Epstein, who this week hired an area scout from the Red Sox, Matt Corey, and promoted him to national cross-checker, will be prohibited from adding anyone else from the Red Sox for a period of three years.”

Exodus: “This is a beautiful ballpark. And I can’t wait to get out of here.”  MLB-TV’s Mitch Williams, imagining what Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel said about Target Field before signing with the Rockies and D-backs, respectively. Both recognized, said Williams, the unfriendliness of the Twins’ new field to home run hitters.

Follow-Up: Fans who would like to take part in a campaign to end the seventh-inning “God Bless America” ceremonial, and similar patriotic by-play at games, should write to: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner,: 245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor, New York, State: NY Zip Code: 10167, 212-931-7800, Fax: 212-949-5654. (Thank you, Gary Maltz, for the nudge.)

– o –

(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Commentsto dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.