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SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 19, 2009: If it's not, it should be. Scalpers were running amok at this game. Between the hordes of Red Sox fans and the Reds fans wanting to see a last game at Ed Smith Stadium, tickets were scarce. And the scalpers took advantage.
It was a beautiful evening for a game.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a ticket. I rarely buy tickets ahead of time, and usually don't have trouble getting a ticket from the box office, or from someone selling theirs at face value or even giving it away. Sometimes I'll pay a little extra to a scalper.
But the scalpers at this game weren't charging a little extra. They were asking $70 for a $9 bleacher ticket.
This was all quite a shock to Reds fans, who were used to the stadium being half-empty. One woman said she just came because she wanted to buy a new Reds shirt; she hadn't realized getting into the stadium to make the purchase would be so difficult. (Why don't they sell that stuff outside the stadium, too?)
I decided to stand in line at the box office, hoping a ticket became available. Players release tickets at the last minute, and if you only need one ticket, it's usually not hard to get.
Not this time. I almost got a ticket, but someone in the other line bought it before I could. What really plecked me off was that the person at the head of the line was a scalper. She acted like she was just a fan who wanted 8 tickets. She knew that they wouldn't let her buy more than six at time, though, which made me suspicious. Two became available, and she bought them. And rather than making her go to the back of line, she stayed at the window, waiting for more tickets to become available.
Meanwhile, the man she was with kept coming over to talk to her, and going back to the parking lot. I realized that he was scalping the tickets she was buying. He came over and told her that he expected a block of eight tickets to become available, and that she should be ready to grab them when they did.
Well, he was wrong. No more tickets became available. She got the last two, which he scalped. Needless to say, those of us in line behind her were furious. Someone called them cockroaches, and he replied that he didn't care, as long as he got his money.
I wasn't sure what to do. I wasn't that excited about seeing the Red Sox, since I see them all the time on TV. The stadium is only a few minutes from my hotel, so it's not like I drove a long way to get there. (Pity the poor Sox fans who came all the way from Ft. Myers.) And I didn't want to give that obnoxious scalper any money. OTOH, I'd already paid $10 for parking, so was reluctant to just walk away.
I hung around awhile, hoping to find a normal person who had an extra ticket they might be willing to part with for face value or thereabouts. The game started, and the scalpers' prices started to go down. I finally bought a bleacher ticket from a different scalper for $30. Still outrageous considering the face value was $9, but not $70 outrageous.
While I was dickering with the scalper, a ball came flying out of the stadium and bounced at my feet. Setting off a mad scramble among the scalpers. (Anyone know who hit that one? I think it was in the first inning, foul to left.)
While I was entering the stadium, a large family of Red Sox fans were leaving. One of the stadium employees asked why they were leaving so soon, and the man said angrily, "I came here to see the Red Sox, but the Red Sox aren't playing." I guess they were unimpressed with the lineup.
By the time I found a spot and got settled in, the third inning was underway. Just in time to see Bronson give up two homers! Yay.
The Red Sox fans outnumbered the Reds fans, at least judging from cheers as the balls sailed out of the park.
Jon Lester was on the mound for the Sox...about the only recognizable name in the lineup.
Brandon Phillips at 2B.
The Reds did have many of their first stringers in, and they stayed in until the end of the game, unlike in earlier spring training games.
Don't worry, Jay, your hair looks fine.
I was in right field again. Hard to see what was going on in the infield, but great for stalking Jay Bruce.
Or maybe he was helping the pitchers warm up, since the bullpen is there in right field. Danny Ray Herrera played catch with Bruce for awhile, and later came into the game.
Mike Lincoln came in the sixth.
Afterwards, he came around to the gate in right field and signed autographs for the kids. They were thrilled.
David Weathers pitched the seventh.
Chris Valaika warmed up by running sprints in right field. He took over at SS in the 8th.
(No, he's not buck-toothed. He's got gum in his mouth.)
Cordero pitched the eighth.
He gave up four hits, two walks, and four runs, including a triple to my old friend Nick Green. An irate fan nearby kept yelling, "He's working on his pitches! He's practicing the fastball down the middle!"
Danny Ray pitched the ninth.
He really is little. I suspect he's shorter than the back of his baseball card says. He pitched very well, though, leading the irate fan who was heckling Cordero to say Herrera was the only pitcher who was any good.
Bruce led off the ninth with a double.
Encarnacion flew out, getting Bruce to 3B.
Dickerson struck out, and Wilkin Castillo grounded out to end the game.
Paul McAnulty with the putout.
Final score: Red Sox 9, Reds 1.
If you have to be in the cheap seats, right field is the place to be. The bullpen is there, and the players enter and leave through it.
Joey Votto heading out:
Some FSN talking head was set up there to do interviews after the game.
Fans knew the players would be leaving via right field, and were lined up at the fence waiting. No one stopped. Brandon Phillips smiled and waved like a beauty queen, but pretended he didn't hear the kids begging for autographs.
One woman was furious, and started calling out the players. "I paid $60 for a ticket here, and you won't even stop to sign anything?"
The Reds all ignored her...except this guy:
The fans around me didn't know who he was, but I heard someone call him "Eric," so I suspect it's Eric Davis. He stopped, and asked the woman, "Me? You're talking to me?" He said he spent a lot of time signing autographs before the game, and it was too bad she missed out.
Me, I think that woman paid too much for a bleacher ticket.
And I learned my lesson. I bought a ticket for the Reds-Red Sox game next week online. With the convenience and delivery charges, the $9 ticket cost $15, but it's cheaper than a scalper. (I know, I should have bought it at the box office while I was at the game, but I forgot.)