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Views From The Stands – Version 2.0

Posted by Matt on July 9, 2007

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On the previous incarnation of Views From The Stands, I told a story from the 2004 season where “Charlie Hustle” and I were completely bamboozled by a group of scalpers, selling us tickets to the “nose bleed” section for $10 more than face value:

“Charlie Hustle” and I went to a Reds game together three years ago, during the Summer of 2004, with the same thought in mind: scalping tickets. We were a pair of strapping young college lads with the world in our rear view. What transpired next was nothing short of a travesty.

Us (prepping ourselves for the big purchase): “Alright, we aren’t going to take the first price he gives us, we aren’t going to let him sweet talk us, we are college educated and we are going to negotiate a sweet deal.”

Scalper: “I have these two tickets, foul ball territory, twenty-five bucks a piece, can’t find a better deal anywhere else, catch ya’self a foul ball!”

Us: “It says fifteen dollars on the ticket?”

Scalper: “Yeah, I get ‘em at the ticket office, they just have to print that on the ticket ’cause I buy ‘em in bulk, I get a good deal. These are some great seats, I promise you, get ya’self a foul ball, I promise.”

Us: “WE’LL TAKE ‘EM!”

After paying an arm and a leg, we made our way to our seats. Now when I say our seats were bad, they were BAD. Five rows from the top and out behind third-base. If we were catching anything it was a wayward bird but by no means a foul ball unless Albert Belle was up to bat every time. Apparently him selling the tickets above face value, and us taking notice, did not really register with the “college-educated.”

Us (digressing): “These seats are TERRIBLE! We just got sweet talked by a scalper, and we’re college boys! He smooth talked us, unbelievable! We’ve been swindled.”

I then went on to discuss how my second attempt in a game against the Washington Nationals this year was a far bigger success as my girlfriend and I went on to get $25 dollar face-value tickets for $15 and had seats that really were in an area where catching a foul ball was possible:

In the exact same area as that faithful night in 2004, I again went looking for some tickets.

Scalper: “Whatcha’ need? I got these behind the Reds’ dugout fo’ thirty-five bucks.”

Me: “Just give me the cheapest you have.”

(I cut right to the chase, no fancy games this time.)

Scalper: “I can give you these two for fifteen bucks a piece, first base line, ’bout fifteen rows up.”

Me: “We’ll take them.”

Ten dollars below face value, and the scalper did not lie, we were about fifteen rows up in “foul-ball alley” and were able to move all the way down to row three by the Ball Boy.

Consider the game on Saturday, July 7th as the “rubber match” between myself and said scalpers and this time both my girlfriend Lindsay and Charlie Hustle were along for the ride, it went a little something like this…

After pre-gaming at Willie’s (the bar of 700WLW radio personality Bill Cunningham where pitchers of Bud Light were $8 — I told Hustle, “for eight dollars, Bill Cunningham oughtta be pouring this damn pitcher”) we made our way to the same $5 parking garage as we did for the first game we attended this season and immediately found our way to the area I now call “Scalper’s Row.” The place is littered with self-made entrepreneurs holding signs with “I Need Tickets” on one side and “I Have Tickets” on the other side – I guess this being the safest way to beat the scalping laws.

Regardless, saying the word “tickets” forces scalpers out of the woodwork like nightcrawlers being forced out of the ground in a rain storm, so I said it and out they came. We had no luck on the first corner as they were only buying tickets and what we were looking for was on “the next corner.” We went down one block to find that the going price for a $25 face-value ticket was $50 dollars and after explaining to the gentleman what we were looking for, we got the same response, “the next corner.” I was beginning to wonder which corner actually had tickets; nonetheless, we were ticketless so we headed down to the next block. Remember, Hustle was there in 2004 when we were hoodwinked so it was decided that I would take control of the negotiations ‘mono y mono’:

Me: “Give me the cheapest you have, something in the twenty dollar range.”

Scalper: “Naa, we don’t have any of those but we do got these fo’ sixty bucks.”

Me: “Sixty dollars?!?! But they’re twenty-five dollar tickets? Doesn’t anybody know that this is a four-hundred ball club….?”

Scalper: “Yea, but the games sol’ out! Brandon Phillips aelkjadfpoialkapoife (incoherent ramblings).”

First, I can only assume that he meant it was sold out because it was “Brandon Phillips Jersey Day,” which it was jersey day but the game was not sold out and that was not a good enough reason to tell me that it was. Look, it could be “Bar Of Gold Day” and I still wouldn’t believe that it was a sell out. Thanks, but no thanks is what I basically told the scalper and off we went, running in to one more of his kind with the same proposition before giving up.

(As a side bar to this story let me clarify something, these scalpers I speak of are not local homeless people in the city of Cincinnati, they are all cut from the same cloth and are part of a well-oiled machine, working very well together. They are actually far from the stereotypical homeless person and are more the sheisty looking local type that you see at high school sporting events in nothing but professional team apparel sitting around wondering ‘what might’ve been’ without actually having a son or daughter playing in that event…)

To make a long story short, we ended up buying a set of tickets for the left field sun deck bleachers from the automated ticket kiosks outside of Great American Ball Park. If you haven’t had the joy of using those machines you’re missing out as it was quite convenient and quick. There were no lines for the ticket kiosks yet thirty-minute waits for the real life tellers, some people just aren’t very self-sufficient.

After going 1-1 in our previous two meetings with the scalpers, I can only consider this one a draw at best. At 1-1-1 with ticket scalpers, maybe the official tie breaker will come later in the season…

We finally made our way to our seats, Brandon Phillips’ jersey in hand, to find out that despite the fact that it was beautiful weather, it was a Saturday evening game, it was Brandon Phillips Jersey Day, we were facing reigning National League Cy Young winner, Brandon Webb, and we were rolling out fan-favorite Homer Bailey to the mound, the game was still not sold out. Those scalpers are full of shit.

While sitting in the scorching sun upon finding our seats, we noticed the right field stands, where we wanted our tickets initially but could not find three together, were not filling up very quickly and we were beginning to think that the ticket kiosks were full of shit as well. We concocted a back up plan to which, after the first inning, we would move down to the right field stands and find three empty seats and pretend that they were ours. Seriously, what is a baseball game without at least trying the “move down” strategy once, it is an American staple.

The first inning comes to a close and we find our way down to the right field stands to seats in which we predict will be the site of #587 for Ken Griffey, Junior so that we could be the happy recipients. Now if you have never moved down in a baseball game it conjures of both feelings of utter joy and accomplishment coupled with feelings of absolute paranoia. With every family that came out of the tunnel, we were more and more convinced that they were “the ones” to dethrone us and send us packing; it is not necessarily the most enjoyable way to watch a game. Well, eventually we were correct and we were forced to move but this forced relocation did not come until halfway through the third inning which brought me to my next creation:

Man Law: If at a baseball game and one sees seats better than his, he can claim those seats for his own after two innings of vacancy; this goes without dispute. Man law.

We begrudgingly returned to our seats after the third inning, stopping at the beer station along the way and killing a half of an inning. Luckily for us, we had sat in right field just long enough for a shadow to be cast upon our original seats rendering it no longer painful to sit in them.

The top of the fifth inning rolls around and we’re made aware of the fact that Homer Bailey will not return for the sixth inning and a pinch hitter has taken his spot in the batting order. Bailey: 5-innings pitched, 2-hits, 1-earned run, 5-strike outs and a 3-1 lead. Good call on taking him out as he really seemed to be struggling….

Mike Stanton came in and pitched well for two full innings and when he was removed, Hustle and I decided to wager on who the next pitcher would be.

Me: Kirk “Screwloose” Saarloos

Charlie Hustle: Todd Coffey

We went to the Reds’ Bullpen to find out the answer first-hand and the pitcher warming up was none other than Todd Coffey.

Charlie Hustle: “HEY TODD! HOW ABOUT A FEW MORE COFFEES AND A FEW LESS DONUTS!”

Both of us: “AAAHAHAHAHA!” (while trading ‘high-fives’)

This garnered only a glance from Reds’ Bullpen Coach, Tom Hume, and nothing else. Think we were being too harsh?:

Todd Coffey faced three batters, put the first two on base with back-to-back hits and then gave up a dead-center-field-home run to the third batter, making it a 4-4 ball game and ruining any chances of a Homer Bailey decision. Coffey left without recording an out to a stadium full of “boos.”

(Additionally, Hustle maintains that Coffey’s “patented” sprint from the Bullpen to the mound wears him out too much to pitch effectively.)

With a little small ball and decent 8th and 9th innings by Jon “Coot” Coutlangus and David Weathers, respectively, the Reds pulled out a 5-4 win in front of, what I would call, a very enthusiastic crowd.

Another very entertaining experience at Great American Ball Park, aside from the fact that beers are $6.50 and sodas are $5.00 (PLEASE TELL ME WHY WE’RE A “SMALL MARKET TEAM” AGAIN?), and after seeing both a Reds win and a loss this season, I may have to return one last time to finish the best of three series as well as to finish what I started with those scalpers…

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