As mentioned a few days ago, the Mets have unveiled a new alternate home jersey for 2010, and the New York Times reported first day sales were something less than spectacular. Ie. staff at the Mets’ 42nd Street team shop told The Gray Lady they’d not sold one shirt by midafternoon. While it’s not as if the day after Thanksgiving is typically a busy day for retailers, Tedquarters’ Ted Berg is alarmed, warning ” a complete lack of interest among fans ” foreboding, presumably, less interest from advertisers ” is the type of thing that could prompt the front office to push to make a ‘splash’ this winter.”

I™m not saying that fans should buy more jerseys to keep Omar Minaya from doing something silly, nor am I saying one day™s worth of bad merchandise sales will affect the Mets™ offseason outlook. But the team competes for advertising dollars in the market with the reigning world champions, and that creates a lot of pressure to grab headlines and fan attention this offseason.

Sometimes it seems like Mets brass are more concerned with improving the perception of the team than with improving the actual team, and more concerned with winning airtime on talk radio in March than winning games in October.

I’m a little less worried about the Amazins’ making a desperate move just for public relations purposes — Wally Backman is perfectly qualified to manage a team in low Single A — but sort of concur with Berg’s larger point. At this moment in history, the Mets are awfully close to cultural irrelevancy, and their inability to flog merchandise to an increasingly fed-up clientele may well be reflected in 2010’s ratings for SNY, Citi’s box office take etc.