Friday, July 13, 2001

Luke's Codes of Baseball Etiquette, one in a series:

Must one sit in one's assigned seat? No. In fact, one is often obliged to claim an upgrade.

Is upgrading stealing? Yes, but so is charging $4 for water. The market is a conversation, and how much a fan pays for a seat sends an important message to owners. The fan who pays $65 for a seat at Yankee Stadium is saying, "This seat is worth $65, maybe more." On the other hand, the fan who pays $15 for a seat and sneaks down to the lower level is saying: "Look, you pukes: This seat is worth $15 and that's all I'm going to pay. If charging $65 for a seat and $6 for a dog is the only way you can make a buck, maybe you shouldn't be in this business. Or maybe you should trim your payroll! You sicken me!" This is an important conversation.

Besides, from the Black Sox to Albert Belle, the shenanigan has been a baseball institution. Thievery is even built into the game. Think stolen base. Think hidden-ball trick. Think Bobby Thomson and the '51 Giants.

I always enjoyed upgrading my ticket at the Oakland Coliseum, with its giant swaths of empty seats. With an $8 upper-deck ticket I'd sit a short toss from the visiting bullpen; not once was I given the boot. Wrigley Field is amenable to squatting, too, even when it's sold out. In none of the dozen games for which I have had a standing-room-only ticket have I actually had to stand.

There are a few rules a seat thief must follow:

  • Arrive early. Once batting practice is over, ushers close off the box seats.
  • Go alone or with a buddy. In a group of three or more? You get what you pay for.
  • Act like you belong there. When you enter the row, pretend to examine your ticket. Flopping down in a random seat is a red flag to ushers.
  • Be prepared to move. If the rightful ticket holder shows up, politely yield, lest a fuss attract an usher. Once again, pretend to examine your ticket before sniffing out the closest available seat. Even if the ticket holder arrives in the second inning or later, you must move, but in these cases you must squirt mustard on the seat and/or mutter, "How 'bout showing up on time, eh, pal?"
  • Don't be greedy. There may be open seats right behind the plate, but that's also where enforcement is toughest and the ushers are surliest. I usually pick a box seat even with the bullpen.
  • Sit in the middle of a row. Most tickets are sold in blocks of two or four. If I see six unoccupied seats, I know two will remain if a family of four shows up. Sitting in the middle also maximizes your mobility: You can move to your left or right, or up or down a row. Finally, sitting on an aisle makes you more visible to ushers.
  • Take care of personal needs before the game. Bring food with you, but go easy on beverages. A trip to the can could send you back to the Uecker seats where you belong.

I'm not sure whether Sandy and I will be seeking any upgrades. We've done it before, leaving the United Center's rafters to be among the ugly sweaters at a Bulls game. But I'm thinking that as these may be our first and last visits to these stadiums, we won't want to squander our time dodging ushers.


We got Kottke'd! Thanks, Jason!


Thursday, July 12, 2001

Today's topic at The Topic Project is "road trip."


Top five road trip songs*:

1. "On the Road Again": "Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway/ We're the best of friends/ Insisting that the world be turnin' our way"
2. "Route 66": "Won't you get hip to this timely tip/ When you make that California trip/ Get your kicks on Route 66"
3. "Turn the Page": "When you're ridin' sixteen hours and there's nothin' much to do/ And you don't feel much like ridin', you just wish the trip was through"
4."Road Buddy":"You're my road buddy, but I'm lonely all the time/ I thought we'd be joking, having long talks on late night drives/ But you drive so bad I lost my patience/ So pass the chips and turn the station"
5."Road Ladies": "Don't it ever get sad when you go out on the road?/ Oh, there was one time in Minneapolis/ When I thought I had the clap for sure"

* that I have heard and remember offhand



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