Posted by: Ryan | January 10, 2010

First Wrinkle

As I mention in my itinerary, I’m hoping to begin the first of my four baseball trips this summer by attending two games between the Phillies and the Red Sox in Philadelphia.

I visited Philles.com to see when tickets for individual games will come available. And here’s what I found:

Registration for Modell’s Sporting Goods Opening Day on April 12, 2010 (“Opening Day”) and the three-game series versus the Boston Red Sox on May 21-23, 2010 (“Red Sox Series”) ticket opportunities began at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) December 23, 2009. The Opening Day registration will close at noon ET, Wednesday, February 24, 2010. The Red Sox Series registration will close at noon ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. The Phillies will conduct a random selection of winners from the pool of registrants for Opening Day and for the Red Sox Series. The winners will have the opportunity to purchase up to four (4) tickets to Opening Day or four tickets one (1) game in the Red Sox Series, which will be played at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA. The Phillies will make winners aware of the exact number of tickets the winner has the opportunity to purchase. Exact date, times and instructions for ticket purchase will be communicated by e-mail to each applicant selected. If a selected applicant does not follow these instructions, he or she will forfeit the opportunity to purchase tickets. There is no charge to register for this opportunity. There is no obligation to buy a ticket. There is no assurance that any particular registrant will be selected. Winners may not transfer this purchase opportunity.

Blame Red Sox Nation.

It’s become so difficult to get tickets to Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston that last August three friends and I traveled to Baltimore to see the Red Sox play the Orioles at Camden Yards. The two-day, one night trip was arguably about as expensive as buying Red Sox tickets from second-hand sources such as StubHub.

I looked forward to the trip for much of the summer, thinking that – unlike at Fenway too often – I’d be able to Zen out on the games among long-suffering, orange-clad Orioles fans, incognito in my New Hampshire Fisher Cats ballcap, cheering quietly under my breath for the Sox.

To quote the Juicy Bananas from the Repo Man soundtrack, “Guess again, m*therf*cker.”

Baltimore was absolutely crawling with Red Sox fans, the streets and sidewalks choked with New Englanders in Pedroia and Ortiz and even Drew jerseys. Inside the stadium was worse. It was hard to even find orange Orioles jerseys, and the Sox fans were embarrassingly loud, and half-drunk, and coarse. I felt like part of an invading army, an apologetic Hun or Visigoth, watching my side pillage and plunder the last-place Orioles on the immaculate Camden Yards diamond.

It’s tempting to blame this all on the Sox’ long-delayed World Series wins in 2004 and 2007. Certainly it’s harder to get Red Sox tickets than it used to be. When my family lived outside Boston in 1985 (my father was on sabbatical from his Mennonite high school, and my parents volunteered at a rescue mission), my brother and I could take the Green Line to Fenway the day of the game and still get bleacher seats. For three dollars each. In the row directly behind the bullpen. On a Saturday.

But truth be told, the Sox fans were just as bad then, if not worse. During that Massachusetts summer, Dad inexplicably decided to take our visiting grandmother with us to a ballgame. During lulls in the action, half the bleachers stood and yelled, “Tastes great!” and the other half stood and shouted back, “F*ck you!”

And of course, it’s not just Sox fans. But I will say this, again: people don’t go to minor league games to get drunk and yell insults about Gary Sheffield’s wife. As an added benefit, there often aren’t enough people at the games to do the Wave.

I’ve put in for my tickets to see the Phils and Sox. If they don’t come through, I’ll have to come up with an alternate plan.

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