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August 15, 2007

Beating the scalper?

This weekend, through yesterday, I was visiting the old homestead in the New York area. I took my mother and my kids to see the Mets on Sunday. My sister and two of her kids joined us. Even though my nephew has been going to see the Mets since the 1980s, he had never seen them win a game in person. I didn't discover this fact until too late, or else I would have told him not to come. Fortunately, we ended his losing streak at approximately 18, when the Mets beat the Marlins, 10-4.

On Monday night, I was going to take my own kids to Yankee Stadium for the game against the Orioles. I'd bought some $17 upper-level seats at, but at almost the last minute, two of my kids couldn't come. I decided I'd just go with my younger son and see if I could unload the two extra tickets with a scalper for whatever I could get.

We drove down the Major Deegan, but a rush-hour accident caused us bumper-to-bumper traffic for miles. We didn't worry about getting to the game on time, but I realized that once the game started, my plan for selling my extra tickets would go up in smoke. Not a really big deal, but I still hoped I could manage it.

I didn't exactly know where I was going, and I ended up parking in a lot nearly a half mile east of the stadium on 161st Street. It was about 5 minutes after the game had begun, and my son and I walked quickly toward the stadium. About a block before we got there, someone called out, "You need any tickets?" I ignored him. He was persistent. "I said, 'You need any tickets?'" I turned and told the man, "I have a couple of extras. You want them?" "What ya got?" I showed him. "How much will you give me for 'em?" I asked. He replied, "Ten each" and handed me a $20 bill.

At this point, after the game had begun, I figured it was free money and didn't try to haggle. I pocketed the bill, and we went into the stadium.

But now, my competitive side kicked in. I started paying attention not to the game but to whether anyone was coming in to sit in our extra seats. Because I really wanted to beat that scalper.

No one ever did.

I figured out early on, of course, that he might have sold the tickets to someone who used them to get in the stadium but sat in better seats elsewhere. But I still enjoyed the thought that I'd gotten the better of the scalper.

What happened in the game? You really care? I told my son it was a lot like a Harlem Globetrotters game, in which the opposition Generals play tough, make a good showing, and always lose in the end to the Globetrotters. Same with the Orioles, who at least made it exciting in the 9th inning, when they tied it at 6-6, with first one runner thrown out at the plate and then the second runner scoring by a hair on the next play. (Poor Chad Bradford, a former Met, gave up the game-winning run in the bottom of the 9th on a pathetic but perfectly placed infield hit by Derek Jeter.)

Bonus: Since I've mentioned the Globetrotters, you'll be interested to know that you can hear their theme song, the Brother Bones whistled version of Sweet Georgia Brown, at this link (in mp3 format) hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.