I wish I’d thought of this

Back in March, a man named Michael Mahan, who has more money than me, bought the entire right-field pavilion (bleachers) at Dodger Stadium for two of the three games against the Giants the last weekend of the season. With that big a group buy, the tickets cost only $3.50 each (face value $6.00). He sold some to a broker, donated some to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and has been selling the rest through his web site for $15.00 each.

Everyone who buys a ticket, though — and the big brothers and big sisters themselves — has to sign an 8-page contract that if they catch a Barry Bonds home run ball, they have to give it to him, and then he’ll sell the ball and later split the money with him.

The Dodgers found out about all this, and they’re a little annoyed, but there’s not much they can do; in California, selling tickets above face value is only illegal on stadium property. They also threatened to let people into the pavilion for free during the games if there is a significant number of empty seats, but Mahan says he’s distributed almost all of the tickets, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

This was all on the front page of today’s L.A. Times, but reading that article requires registration, whereas baseballrelated.com doesn’t. I think the reason this made the front page today is because Bonds has gotten near 700 home runs a little faster than Mahan predicted back in March.

I’m going to the Dodgers game tonight, but sitting in the “reserved” (third) level, behind home plate, so no Barry Bonds home run balls for me. Well, since they’re playing the Padres, a Bonds home run ball would be highly unlikely no matter where I’m sitting.

Original comments…

Jim: It wasn’t in the L.A. Times article, so I forgot to bring up Charlie Sheen buying the entire left-field bleachers for a game at Anaheim in 1996. (“Anybody can catch a foul ball,” he supposedly said. “I want to catch a fair ball.”) The Angels apparently didn’t even make him fill up the section, because by all accounts, it was just Sheen and a couple of friends sitting out there. No one was in danger of hitting any milestone home runs in that game, though, and Sheen went home empty-handed.

Levi: You know, I was just retelling that story to Luke on Monday, but I had Sheen at Comiskey Park. My mistake, I assume, since Jim is known to be mistake-free.

Dan: Jim knows(tm).

Home Sweet Home

I apologize for being late with this–work (along with my upcoming weekend trip to Montreal) has kept me busy this week.

But here you go: some thoughts on Monday afternoon’s Expos/Marlins game, such as they are.

1) Luke and I met at 12:45, because MLB.com said the game was to begin at 1:35. Alas, the game began at 1:05, which meant that many fans were already there ahead of us and we were reduced to sitting on the sixth row, behind the on-deck circle. We were so far away I almost couldn’t count the crows feet around Jeff “The Original Marlin” Conine’s eyes.

2) Our estimates of the crowd size, apparently, were wildly inaccurate. The upper decks were closed completely (In fact, there were some construction–or, I suppose in this case, destruction–guys ripping out a section of seats in the upper deck in left. Not like the Sox have another ten home games or anything.), and the lower deck, though more full than I would have guessed, wasn’t anywhere near capacity. I guessed 900 or so, Luke dithered between 800 and 1200. Attendance wasn’t announced during the game, but it was later listed at 4,003.

3) Luke and I had both expected the fans to be rooting for the Expos, hoping for a Marlins defeat that would push Florida farther behind the Cubs in the Wild Card race. There’s nothing like a little North Side blindness, which we all fall prey to sometimes. Turns out about half the audience was composed of Sox fans rooting for a Marlins rout, a Sosa suspension, and more concrete cave-ins at Wrigley. One funny side effect of the general admission seating was that people chose sections like at a high school game: the Expos fans sat on the Expos dugout side, the Marlins fans did the same with the Marlins dugout.

4) The Marlins brought their hometown PA announcer and graphics package, which included the obligatory scoreboard races, a gratuitous shot of Steve Bartman, and a lot of “your Florida Marlins.” One of the scoreboard races was an exotic Florida-type race: fan boats, being raced by several different Billy the Marlin. Bill was also in attendance, as was Marlins owner (and Expos destroyer) Jeffrey Loria. The only thing missing was local traffic information to help us get home to South Beach after the game.

5) The atmosphere at the game, Luke and I agreed, was one of the most pleasant of any game we’ve been to. No one (except the players) had much invested in the game’s outcome, so the cheering was genial, and people seemed to be really enjoying being part of a weird occurrence on a beautiful late summer day. It felt a lot like attending a minor-league game with major-league players–until the Expos made four errors in the 8th inning, at which point it seemed like, well, maybe a T-Ball game.

6) Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I made the day into a doubleheader, hurrying home after the game to get some dinner, then turning around and heading to Wrigley Field for the Cubs/Pirates game. Greg Maddux, given an early lead, did what he nearly always does, and a fine day of baseball came to a pleasant end.

7) And one unrelated note: let’s take a moment to congratulate the Big Unit, who last night fanned Vinny Castilla to move into third all-time on the strikeout list. He might even eventually catch Clemens for second, since he shows no signs of aging.

Original comments…

Jim: You wanted local traffic information for Miami?

“I-95 north is backed up due to slow-moving Cadillacs with turn signals on in all lanes. The Turnpike south is temporarily closed due to alligators crossing the roadway. A1A is flooded due to this week’s hurricane.”

Luke, hanger-on: One of the Florida papers on Tuesday — sorry, I forget which one — said it was the Marlins who wanted the later start Monday, but MLB nixed it. And it said Loria was annoyed at Bartman’s visage — A regular feature after fan interference at Sox Park? The story made it sound like it was. — and made an enraged call to the scoreboard operator to get it yanked. Apparently he’s a bit defensive vis-a-vis the idea that anyone but the Marlins had anything to do with Florida’s unlikely championship.

In addition to the absence of “You suck!” heckles and “Yo, four beers!” bellowing, there was another pleasantness to the game that I’m surprised that Levi didn’t mention: very few children. It was a weekday, so they must have all been in school or jail, where they belong. There were just enough there — youngsters too young for school or out on parole — so that just about every foul ball seemed to get passed on to a nearby child, an indicator of the genial, generous mood that the crowd was in.

Luke: Found that story. (Login: bugmenot2; pass: whatever .)

Luke: And it wasn’t Loria, but Marlins President David Samson.

Jason: Did they have any south Florida items at the concession stands, like oranges or cocaine?

maura: (we weren’t really sure of what time monday’s game was going to start until about five minutes before it actually did. so much confusion.)

Related to the trip, but not baseball-related

I’ve managed to answer the question, “Can there possibly be anything at a restaurant more surprisingly highly priced than the $7.00 beers at the Red Star Tavern in Pittsburgh?” And that answer is yes.

I was with a group at a mid-priced Mexican restaurant last night, and during the cocktails-and-chips portion of the evening, someone made the executive decision to order guacamole as a supplement to the salsa. The guacamole order was a bowl of the usual size one gets at a Mexican restaurant; it was fresh and tasty, but since this is California, it’s very easy to find fresh and tasty guacamole.

The cost of the bowl of guacamole turned out to be $8.25.

It turned out to be listed on the menu with a price of “as quoted,” as if it’s, you know, lobster fresh off a plane from Maine. They didn’t quote the price to us when we ordered it, only when it showed up on the bill.

(I like the fact that the menu lists what year they started serving every dish, because it’s fascinating to see when “new” Mexican foods were introduced — quesadillas 1969, fajitas 1984, vegetarian enchiladas 1992. But especially when that information is on the web site version of the menu, too, it’s not $8.25 worth of guacamole fascinating!)

Original comments…

Levi: The “as quoted” reminds me of the restaurant–was it one of the places where we looked at a menu in Pittsburgh, Jim?–in the midwest that boasted “The freshest fish in the nation!”

I suppose if it were some bottom-feeding river fish, then maybe.

thatbob: Perhaps they meant The Iroquois Nation. Are you certain you weren’t on tribal land?