By most standards, the New York Mets have had a mediocre season. They entered play today, Wednesday, July 27, with a 52-51 record and far closer to last place in the NL East (they are 2 ½ games ahead of the Washington Nationals) than to the wild card-leading Atlanta Braves (who are seven games ahead of the Mets). They have been within three games of .500 every day since June 5 — not far enough under the break-even mark to completely cash in the season, yet not far enough over it to have a legitimate shot at a playoff run. And attendance-wise, the Mets rank an appropriate eighth out of 16 National League teams — not great, not awful, but right in the middle.
Yet by the Mets’ standards, this has been a successful season. The Mets spent the previous four seasons redefining the term “all-time low” — on the field and at the gate — and were expected to flirt with or exceed 100 losses this year. But they are 47-38 following a 5-13 start, and while the pleasantly surprising performance won’t be enough to keep the Mets from acting as sellers as the trading deadline approaches Sunday, July 31 — the Mets traded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers at the All-Star Break and are reportedly close to sending All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants — it has been enough to slowly lure fans back to Citi Field.
The Mets are averaging 30,320 fans per game at Citi Field, down 2,551 from last season’s figure. That’s the fourth-biggest drop in baseball, behind only the Braves, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers, but still far less than the drop the Mets endured in the second season at Citi Field last year, when the average crowd of 32,871 represented a remarkable decrease of 7,340 — by far the biggest in Major League Baseball.
In addition, the Mets’ spunky play — they have hung around .500 despite the Disabled List stints endured by stars David Wright, Ike Davis and potential NL MVP Jose Reyes and the season-long absence of ace Johan Santana — has endeared them to a fan base worn out from the constant losing and off-field issues that have enveloped the Mets the last four years. The Mets have welcomed at least 30,000 fans through the gates in each of their last 15 home games after reaching that mark just 10 times in their first 22 home dates (including one single-admission doubleheader).
The increased popularity of the Mets has benefited ticket brokers as well: According to SeatGeek data, Mets tickets have been reselling for almost twice as much the last two months as they did for the season’s first two months. The average ticket price for a Mets game was below $60 through Memorial Day but haven’t fallen under that mark since then. Prices peaked at around $120 when the Mets hosted the second Subway Series of the season against the Yankees July 1-3 and have yet to fall lower than the mid-$70s.