Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Banner Day Aftermath - I'm Not Bitter

I'm not bitter. I'm really not. But I didn't win on Banner Day like I had expected to. And I still don't know why.

I am more than ecstatic with how my banner turned out.

The reaction from family, friends and strangers to my banner was something on a level above anything I've experienced before. I could tell that people were blown away by it. A number of people told me either that I should be a finalist (before the finalists were announced) or that I was robbed (after the finalists were announced). And people took time to take it all in. And therein lies the rub. My feeling is that I had too much for the judges to see in such a short time (15 to 30 seconds). I couldn't be properly judged. Remembering past finalists and winners, you could see it all in a short amount of time, and you were blown away. Here, I don't think that was the case. But I also don't think I would have changed anything in my presentation because, really, this was on a whole different level, once fully absorbed, from almost anything else out there. (I did see one other banner that was on my level - "Captain America Saves the Mets", which looked like a hand-drawn comic strip of David Wright as Captain America. I didn't get to read it all, but maybe that person faced the same problem that I did)

And I thank all of you for your support and kind words through all of this. I knew I had done something special, but hearing it from all of you really made me appreciate it.

And I know I've said this before...I've got a killer idea for the next contest that if I can pull it off, I'm a shoo–in to the finals.

As a full fledged supporter of Banner Day, and one who wants to make sure it doesn't go anywhere (I don't trust the Mets), I fully appreciate everyone of the 100 or so people/groups who came out on Sunday with banners to show off their expression and creativity.

But with that, I think the Mets need to make some changes to Banner Day for next year to encourage more and maybe even better participation. The basic idea is to have more prizes and more contests and more judging than the singular parade that we've had for the past 3 years. So here are some ideas.
  1. Give something special to all of the kids in the parade. It doesn’t matter if the kids are there because dad has a banner, or if the kids are actually in the banner, or if they made the banner, or anything in between. Get more kids involved, even if they make simple banners that say “Let’s Go Mets” or “David Wright is my favorite player”, by giving them a special giveaway that nobody else gets.
  2. Have different categories. Maybe “Mets history”, “Today’s Mets”, “Best use of colors” (I don’t know about that), “Best use of a Mets logo”, and “Best in Show”. With so many creative banners, there should be more prizes because frankly, I really thought I had one of the best 2 or 3 and went home feeling empty. Maybe award prizes for “Most creative” and “Best executed” too. Let people come up with better categories than mine, but have more prizes for more banners. Maybe even best banners measuring over and under a certain size.
  3. With that, maybe if we knew at the beginning of the season what the judges would be looking for in each category, it would be helpful for those going for the ultimate prize. I spent 3 1/2 weeks on my banner, and it would be nice to know if I’m anywhere close to what the judges are looking at before I start.
  4. Having a theme is good (Mets 50th anniversary in 2012 for instance), but have one judging for banners meeting that theme and another for being outside that theme. Not everybody is going to meet that theme, nor should they, and it should be noted in the “rules” that the theme is a suggestion but not a requirement. That’s what I tell people when encouraging them to come out for the parade.
  5. Give the judges more time to judge. What does it really cost you? Not every banner needs 30 seconds to be judged, but some might need more, and those banners should be judged fairly. I felt a bit rushed when I was out there.
Basically, my takeaway is to get more people involved by increasing the chances of rewarding people. And others have said that the holiday weekend isn’t good. I like it on a Saturday before a 4:10 game so that we’re not there absurdly early like we were yesterday. Either late May or early June for that is good. Not too early in the season because it means less time to prepare and my creations take time.
And promote Banner Day on Mets broadcasts and in the park better. Have Channel 11 televise the parade live with commentary. It's a whole lot better than parading in front of 200 people inside the ballpark, some of whom are kept at a distance by the ushers (so I've heard). Channel 11 has their own pregame show for some games, so have their morning crew or that pregame show crew show the parade before handing it off to the SNY-produced game telecast.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. Your comments will fall into a moderation queue.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Banner Day 2014

So most people have a 3 day weekend for Banner Day, the unofficial start of summer. Wait, that's Memorial Day Weekend. So today is the traditional Banner Day doubleheader with the parade in between games. Close? It's just Banner Day, with the parade of banners starting shortly after the ballpark opens at 11am. And thanks to mother nature and Friday night's rainout, we still get the doubleheader.

And for the 4th time in the 3 years since the return of Banner Day, I am entering the parade and contest (I had 2 banners last year). And I think I have the winner this time. I've thought my ideas were awesome before, but this is my best one yet.

So this is where I go on explaining what I did and why. First, in case you didn't recognize the game board and colors, and the logo in the middle, this year's banner is called "Shea Stadium Monopoly". 2014 is the 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium (an occasion really only celebrated by the Mets for one weekend in April with a price reduction and a giveaway that features a slightly modified version of the "Final Season at Shea Stadium" logo, which I used in the banner), so that was my theme. It's not necessarily about the Mets. It's about Shea Stadium. So let me give you a tour of the game board.
  1. Instead of "Go" where you collect $200, I have "Kiner's Korner" where you collect $200. I don't know what the going rate for being on Kiner's Korner would be today, but I didn't adjust any prices in the game.
  2. "Mediterranean Avenue" is replaced by "Shea Stadium Opens" with the 1964 World's Fair logo. All of the colored properties (ones which you can build houses and hotels on) are games or sporting events at Shea.
  3. If I put everything in the correct places, "Community Chest" is Shea's blue and orange tiles, which were on the ballpark in the 1960s and 1970s. "Chance" is the neon ballplayers. The 4 shown are actually from my own pictures.
  4. "Baltic Avenue" is replaced by "Banner Day at Shea". I couldn't leave that one out. I just couldn't.
  5. "Income Tax" is replaced by "Ticket Fees". I didn't change the text/prices, so it's kind of funny that ticket fees are 10% or $200. Or maybe it's not so funny.
  6. "Reading Railroad" here is the movie "Men In Black", representing all moments in film which took place at Shea. The picture is from the scene at Shea when then-Mets LF Bernard Gilkey is hit in the head by a popup because he is distracted by a spaceship overhead. All of the railroads in my game are non-Sports.
  7. The next set of properties has "Agee's Upper Deck HR", "Bunning's Perfect Game" and "Len Dykstra's NLCS HR" replacing "Oriental Avenue", "Vermont Avenue" and "Connecticut Avenue" respectively. It's not all Mets moments here. I tried to use actual photos or video screenshots when possible, but more important, I wanted something that would make people instantly recognize what moment it was.
  8. The only mean-handed spaces in this game are "Jail" and the corresponding "Go To Jail". Since this is a banner about Shea Stadium, "Jail" is Citi Field. Another one of my photos used here. These 2 squares are the only places in the entire banner in which you will see Citi Field. It's not even in the background of any pictures.
  9. The next set sees "St. Charles Place", "States Avenue" and "Virginia Avenue" replaced by "Carter's Opening Day HR" (of course from his Mets debut in 1985), the "Grand Slam Single" and "The Imperfect Game" respectively.
  10. The 2 utilities - "Electric Company" and "Water Works" are replaced by the "Ralph Kiner TV Booth" and the "Bob Murphy Radio Booth". That seemed to fit. Sorry there was no place for Lindsey Nelson here.
  11. "Pennsylvania Railroad" in this game is "Grand Funk Railroad (1970)", a big concert at Shea.
  12. The next set has "Buckner's Error", "Shea Goodbye" and "Piazza's Post 9/11 HR" instead of "St. James Place", "Tennessee Avenue" and "New York Avenue". Putting Piazza's HR on New York Avenue was a happy accident that I didn't realize until just now.
  13. "Free Parking" is the "Home Run Apple", and that's the apple when it was in use at Shea, not in its location on the plaza outside Citi Field.
  14. "Kentucky Avenue" here is the "1964 All Star Game". All of the remaining properties which belong to sets are home team clinchers which took place at Shea.
  15. First, the Division Clinchers. 2006 first, in place of "Indiana Avenue", then 1988, in place of "Illinois Avenue.
  16. Pausing for a moment, "B&O Railroad" here is Billy Joel's "Last Play at Shea (2008)".
  17. Then up are the "1986 NL East Clincher" in place of "Atlantic Avenue" and the "1969 NL East Clincher" in place of "Ventnor Avenue".
  18. On to NLCS Clinchers. 1973 is first, in place of "Marvin Gardens", then 1969 in place of "Pacific Avenue" and 2000 in place of "North Carolina Avenue".
  19. I do include the Jets, with the "1968 AFL Title Game" (the one the Jets won sending them to Super Bowl 3) replacing "Pennsylvania Avenue".
  20. The final railroad, "Short Line Railroad", is represented by arguably the most famous stadium concert ever - "The Beatles (1965)". If you don't know what I'm talking about, go research that one.
  21. Jumping ahead by one space, "Luxury Tax" is "Stadium Parking", though the price was left at the game's $75 and not changed to today's $21 (or is it $22?)
  22. "Park Place" is replaced by the "1986 WS Clincher" and "Boardwalk" is replaced by the "1969 WS Clincher". Enough said.
For all 40 spaces, they are hand-cut from poster board nearly to exact measurements. The labels are computer printed onto stickers and cut and placed on the spaces. And the same technique was used for the pictures. The colored areas, where applicable, are hand-colored using either sharpies or markers, based on what I had in stock that came close to matching the colors on the actual game board. The black boarders between the white space and colored space on each game space, when applicable, was hand drawn as well, using measurements as a guide. You can probably tell that it's hand-crafted by some of the labels, pictures, lines and even cuts being a little off. I like that it looks hand-made. Banner Day should have that look. The spaces were all laid out on the posterboard and taped down. The black spaces between each game space, which again look a little uneven, were based on how well I spaced out everything and then how much each piece shifted as I attempted to tape it down. After seeing the contrast between the clear scotch tape and the posterboard, I went in with a sharpie to basically hide as much of the tape as I could.

And then there's the centerpiece, which could be an awesome banner in and of itself. It's a black and white photo collage of pictures from Shea Stadium. It's mostly Mets, but it also includes the Jets, Yankees, concerts and even the Pope. None of the photos here are repeats from the actual game board. I won't even begin to list out what these pictures are. Nothing is completely hidden from view. There's probably a couple dozen in total of different shapes and sizes and orientations (slanted in different directions).

And in the center of it, bringing good color contrast, is the game's logo, which is the Shea Stadium final season logo combined with the Monopoly game logo, including Rich Uncle Pennybags (a.k.a. Mr. Monopoly). I was hoping to use the Shea Stadium 50th anniversary logo, which is the same as the one I used except for the text ("1964 * 2008" replaced by "50th Anniversary"), but I never found that logo in downloadable form. It was used on the Shea 50th Anniversary Canvas print. Anyway, the logo still worked. The Monopoly logo fit in nicely and covered up the Mets logo, which for once is good since this is about Shea and not the Mets.

You may or may not be able to tell from a distance (I hope not), but everything is taped down, gaps in the centerpiece were colored gray in order to blend in, and gaps between the game spaces and around the center of the gameboard were colored black over the tape.

It took me almost 4 weeks of nights and weekends to put together, and the original idea and initial design was dated 12/16/2013, with the idea for the centerpiece coming together just in the past week. It measures about 32 inches square, much larger from the 19 square inch sized gameboard from the manufactured games (in fact, the centerpiece is larger than the 19 square inch size). I wanted something larger so that the pictures on each game space could be seen from a distance, which is what would be necessary during judging and also in the parade.

And I hope you like it. Happy Banner Day.

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