It's baseball season, or at least it's the beginning of the countdown. Pitchers and catchers report today, which means that there is spring in our foreseeable future. The crews are working like mad at Wrigley, sprucing up, adding bathrooms and making everything perfectly presentable for opening day. And on Friday you can join the masses and buy individual game tickets, spring really is just around the corner.
Naturally you will need to take Friday off because if you stand any chance of actually getting a ticket, you must be willing to sit in a virtual waiting room for hours and suffer the rejection of being kicked out, for no apparent reason, repeatedly. Alternatively you can huddle with a gaggle of other fools in the horrific cold, wearing your wristband with the magic number, offering you the opportunity to stand outside for hours, shuffle inside when they call your number, and then back out in an orderly fashion to the ticket windows where you will be allowed to buy a limited number of what remains available. Even with a good number, this process takes three to four hours, and I've done it several times.
Of course to avoid all this mess, not to mention cold and suffering, you have until tomorrow at noon to log in and buy all the tickets you'd like, from the warm comfort of your home or office, first choice with good seats available, if you are willing to spend 20% more than the listed ticket price. For those of us lucky to have a MasterCard, and fool enough to use it, the Cubs will graciously offer a 5% discount off the 20% premium you are already paying for insanely high priced baseball tickets.
It didn't use to be this way. In fact not so long ago I would wander past the ticket window on my morning dog walk to see what was available, a sunny day the perfect excuse to play hooky from a job I truly hated. Rather than spend the day in my windowless office closet interviewing men who had suffered at the hand of a reckless plastic surgeon, a game day ticket allowed me an afternoon of baseball with 30,000 fleeing others, tickets being fairly easy to come by, and at a price a struggling student with a terrible job could afford, occasionally.
If Eleanor Roosevelt and I were to walk by now we'd find a sign that says Game Day Tickets Unavailable. A perfect day would send me under the tracks, by the pizza place, to the guys with stacks and stacks of tickets, all mine for the right price. It's a warm day in late May and the Dodgers are in town. An upper deck infield seat, purchased Friday online would cost $46. My guess is that the under the track guys were probably willing to splurge on the amazing deal offered by the Cubs, Monday's upgrade adding 20% to the cost. Then there is the 12% entertainment tax, add to that the premium they will charge me for their services and my day at the ballpark just went to around $70, for one ticket.
This slap leaves a red mark which stings, and it's not supposed to be this way, not when I have loved you, and been so loyal, for so long.