By: Brian Mangan
edit: The first draft of this article erroneously attributed the Deadspin article to Tim Marchman. It was actually written by Tom Ley.
There is a non-controversy on Twitter today which is quickly being turned into an actual controversy thanks to the low-brow muck-rakers over at Deadspin, who I thought could not possibly get any lower.
It came out this morning that a young father named Jim Milbrandt had written to all 30 MLB teams to do a fairly interesting, yet tiny and innocuous, project:
I decided to contact all 30 MLB teams on behalf of my 20 month old son, Mason. I simply sent an email to the franchise and asked if they would be nice enough to send him a fan pack. I also included a photo of Mason in my email.
I will be tracking the results in this blog and handing out letter grades for each franchise. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Seriously, it doesn’t get much cuter than that, does it? Milbrandt seems like a big baseball fan, so good for him for reaching out to teams and for doing a cute little public service of posting their responses. Milbrandt’s blog has only one post — this one. Seems like a non-story, right?
Well, thanks to the incompetence of the Mets, the rabidity of #MetsTwitter, and the absolute scum known as Deadspin, it’s now a story.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. Milbrandt is chronicling the responses he gets from teams which have, for the most part, been pretty adorable. The Reds sent magnets, a Ken Griffey Jr. poster, and stickers. He gave them an “A-” for their package, which in total couldn’t have been worth more than $10. He received little trinkets, like stickers and pocket schedules, from a number of teams, and Milbrandt was grateful to receive them and gave flattering grades to most.
Until the Mets, that is. Of the seven teams to have responded to Milbrandt in the last ten days, the Mets were the only team to respond and fail to send something to little Mason. Here’s how Milbrandt explains it:
It is no secret that I have been a Mets fan since 1985….this one was a tough pill to swallow! I sent the same email to all 30 MLB clubs, I did not mention in my Mets email that I was at Game 3 of the 2000 World Series or Game 5 of the 2000 NLCS. I also left out my countless trips to Big Shea and road trips to Chicago, Boston, Baltimore and Atlanta to watch my favorite team play! I received an email back from Queens simply saying “we no longer do fan packs for our fans” and that I could “write if I would like a pocket schedule” I don’t want to be a father that forces his son to root for the same teams just because it is the team that I like. I thought it would be great for Mason to grow up pulling for the Mets so I was really let down knowing that we would not be getting a package featuring the Mets logo!
FINAL GRADE FOR THE NEW YORK METS: F
All things considered, this is not a take-down of the Mets. This is a dispassionate, factual explanation of what happened. It’s not complaining, or crying. There is no sense of entitlement here. It’s just the facts. But boy oh boy, were the #HotTakes out in force this morning on this topic.
For the most part, I was willing to discuss idly with fellow fans and let the story go, until it was picked up by Deadspin, who put up this absolutely outrageous article entitled:
I don’t know whether Tom Ley is trolling for page clicks or just dumb, but here is how Ley castigates Milbrandt:
Yes, this guy is out here just sending emails to baseball teams that essentially say, “My child exists. Please send us free shit,” and then chastising the ones that don’t meet his rigorous free-shit requirements.
Deadspin misses the point entirely.
First of all, Milbrandt is not chastising the Mets. In fact, he has every right as a fan to take it more personally than he has — but let’s stick to the facts here, he does not chastise the team. He simply reports on the fact that the Mets were the only one out of seven teams to fail to make any attempt to connect with a young fan. Maybe other teams will respond back, saying they won’t be sending anything. Maybe other teams will fail to respond at all. Who knows?
Here is how I explained it this morning to my friends and Countrymen on the twitter machine:
As a Mets fan, I feel that you are entitled to be a little embarrassed or a little upset tht your team, one with a history of PR disasters, has been the only team so far to not make an attempt to reach out to a young fan. In fact, the Mets didn’t only not respond — but they affirmatively sent a sniveling excuse of a letter to make clear that they just don’t do thay anymore.
I don’t care whether teams send Fan Packs or not. I don’t care whether the Fan Packs are valuable or not. What I DO care about, and what everyone should care about, is whether their team is on the pulse or is tone deaf, whether their team is keeping up with the social mores of the industy or not, whether the team’s PR is good or bad, because at the end of the day, the sport is inextricably linked with its PR both on and off the field.
It’s probably a good idea, in a vacuum, to try to appeal to young fans (this is, of course, how most of us became fans in the first place). But even if it were not a good idea on it’s own to do so, you’ve simply got to keep up with the rest of your industry. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, or public relations, or legal practice, or anything else. The Mets chose to cut an extremely inexpensive corner, and now they look bad because of it.
As for the reaction to Milbrandt… anyone outraged about what Milbrandt wrote is reading into it and adding their own significance to something that is quite simple.
How dare you, Deadspin, accuse Milbrandt of “using a child as leverage to acquire free swag,” as if Milbrandt’s objective was somehow to get rich through magnets and mini-bats. I refuse to believe that anyone is stupid enough to think that Milbrandt’s objective was somehow pecuniary in nature. And shame on you, even further, casting aspersions at Milbrandt and bringing his child into it.
Milbrandt reported the facts. Maybe you can learn a thing or two from him.