If you’re a lifelong, die-hard San Francisco Giants fan with a modest amount of disposable income and you want to be in the stands for the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, I have one thing to say: Good luck with that.
Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.
When standing-room-only tickets are going for more than $400 a piece, it’s time to make plans to get comfortable in front of the TV on game day, even if that means putting up with annoying Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Now, I understand that the ticket prices that are getting headlines are from the resale market, and if you managed to go online fast enough all you had to pay was face value. But even at face value, buying tickets to the World Series is a major blow to the pocketbook for most people.
The fact that Giants tickets sold out in just 15 minutes shows that most fans’ odds of getting tickets to a game are smaller than Eddie Gaedel’s strike zone. Not exactly the most family friendly thing I’ve ever heard of.
I’ll admit that the postseason ticket price gouge is nothing new. When I was single and had money to burn, the high prices were annoying but they never prevented me from going to a postseason game.
It was a no-brainer back then that I was going to buy playoff tickets every time the Oakland A’s made the postseason behind the dominant pitching of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. But now that I’m a father, I have a different take on things. Money is tight in our household and every family outing has to fit into our tiny budget.
My yearly spring training trips and A’s season tickets vanished right around the time that mortgage payments and diapers came into my life.
I’m finally starting to figure out why I never attended a World Series game with my parents when I was a kid in the late ’80s. It was probably just too expensive for them to pull off. It’s disappointing to think that if my kids become die-hard A’s fans and the team makes it to the World Series someday that there’s almost no way I’ll be able to afford to take them to a game because ticket prices are out of control.
Of course, if you want to kick me while the A’s are down you can argue that I’ll probably never have to worry about that for several reasons:
1. You could make a case that recent history suggests that the A’s may never get to another World Series. I beg to differ, but if you want to give me a bad time that’s a good place to start since the team has been an also-ran for several seasons.
2. You could also say that my kids won’t have any reason to grow up as A’s fans because Oakland doesn’t keep its star players around long enough for anyone to get emotionally invested in the franchise. That argument might actually hold a lot of water, since I grew up cheering for Rickey Henderson and the powerful clubs managed by Tony LaRussa. And if there’s one thing you can say about the owners of those A’s teams it’s that they kept their top players.
Back then the A’s drew close to three million fans a year. But now the ballpark is a ghost town most of the time. It’s hard not to see a clear connection between ownership spending money to keep a talented roster together and ticket sales.
3. Here’s another point you could make in calming my fears that I won’t be able to get a hold of affordable A’s World Series tickets for my family: No one goes to A’s games anymore.
If Oakland ever makes it back to the World Series, there’s a chance that I could walk up to the ticket window on the day of a game and get in. According to a friend of mine, that’s exactly what it was like in the 1970s when Oakland won three world titles in a row.
4. Here’s one more thing someone could throw in my face when I stress out over the thought of missing out on A’s World Series tickets in the future: The team may not even be in the Bay Area by the time the A’s make it back to the World Series. That’s a painful thought but it’s not hard to see how the A’s could end up on the move. My gut feeling is that a new ballpark will never be built in Oakland, and I’ll believe in a San Jose stadium for the A’s when I see it.
The bottom line is that the steep price of World Series tickets puts them out of reach of most middle class fans with families, which is really disappointing. Scalpers will always have a leg up on a family guy sitting at his home computer frantically trying to log in to a team’s website fast enough to buy a couple of tickets.
Major League Baseball obviously has no shame in bumping up ticket prices through every round of the playoffs. And as long as there are people crazy enough to pay what the league and scalpers demand, there’s no reason for prices to ever come down to a level where an average family can stretch their budget a little bit to go to a World Series game without mortgaging their future.
Every baseball fan dreams about seeing their team play in the World Series but at these prices, it’s clearly no family affair.
Rickey Henderson photo credit: sportsmemorabilia.com