All-Star Game was the apple of Mets' eyes
Organization basks in glow after successful week of events
NEW YORK -- If the Mets did not understand what a massive undertaking hosting the All-Star Game would be, they learned first-hand last summer in Kansas City. A large contingent of Mets executives descended upon Kauffman Stadium, shadowing their counterparts in the Royals organization for days.
There, the Mets learned how to throw a party.
Of course, there is nothing quite like a New York party, in scope or gravity, and the Mets knew that heading into All-Star week at Citi Field. They also feel that they succeeded.
"When you think about the number of moving parts that go into this, the number of people in the ballpark … there's so much work that goes into it," said Mets senior vice president of marketing and communications David Newman. "At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what any of us think. If the fans had a good time and people tuned in to watch the game, and there was this general buzz [surrounding everything], then that's a pretty good week."
Fans certainly watched in unprecedented numbers, from the Citi Field-record 45,186 who came out to Tuesday's All-Star Game, to the nearly-as-large crowd that witnessed Monday's Home Run Derby.
It helped that two of the game's brightest starts, David Wright and Matt Harvey, just so happened to be Mets.
"This is kind of how I remember October baseball being," Wright said. "It's a shame that I've only been there once [in 2006], and have very distant memories of it. But baseball means so much more to New Yorkers. This is, in my eyes, the greatest baseball stage in the world. To be able to come show off the best players in the game is obviously special for us, special for the city, special for the fans, and that rubs off on the hometown players."
For Wright, the week's lasting memories will be mingling with players in the National League clubhouse, greeting fans at the All-Star Red Carpet Parade, and, of course, basking in the ovations he received at Citi Field. In New York, Wright's reputation is unassailable.
For Harvey, the chance to participate in an All-Star Game for the first time is what he will remember. It was a formal initiation into the ranks of baseball's elite.
For so many other members of the Mets organization, the week was an opportunity to showcase more than a year's worth of hard work.
"I think it's been more intense [than we thought]," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. "It's one of those things that it's more intense when you're going through it. When you look at it from afar, it just kind of looks like it happened. When you're going through it, though, it's tough. And it's big."
Casual observers might not notice how much goes into All-Star week beyond the game itself. For months leading up to the game, the Mets partnered with Major League Baseball on charity initiatives throughout the city, hoping to create what Newman called a "lasting impact." To that end, the Mets donated money to a Boys & Girls Club in Queens, helped renovate a park in the Rockaways, raised money for Welcome Back Veterans, and so much more.
Then came All-Star Sunday, with the Futures Game -- in a way, a dry run for the Midsummer Classic itself -- and celebrity softball event. Then the Home Run Derby, the Red Carpet parade and finally the All-Star Game, with so many logistical challenges in between.
So it was incredibly rewarding for the Mets to see the tens of thousands who came out to support their efforts, and the millions more who watched on television.
"It's been great for us, but it's even better for the fans," Wilpon said. "The fans needed to be here and see everything and be part of it."
On Wednesday morning, Mets employees woke up to the reality that their party was finally over. A year from now, all eyes will turn to Minnesota, where the Twins -- after spending this week shadowing their counterparts at Citi Field -- just as the Mets did in Kansas City -- will play host.
Eyes tired, Wright admitted that he was looking forward to sleeping in for once. And who could blame him? A long second half of the season awaits.
"I think it lived up to my expectations and surpassed my expectations," Wright said. "I didn't really know what to expect. It's been a whirlwind 48 hours. But [Wednesday], I'll be able to sleep in, think about the last two days, and probably a big smile will come across my face, because it was a lot of fun."