October 19, 2008
Normally, the cry of the scalper is a hearty and hopeful "Who needs two?"
But outside Tropicana Field tonight, the pitch goes like this: "Rays toilet paper! Get your free toilet paper with a Rays logo on it! Only 16 cents! We'll take your best offer!"
No joke, the Rays ticket market was in absolute shambles for tonight's Game 7 against the Red Sox. When I went out to evaluate, I found hundreds of tickets for sale with no buyers and Frank Theriault of Clearwater trying to lure prospective buyers with those words above. (That's Frank on the right with two of his friends who were also trying to dump tickets.)
"This is unbelievable," said Theriault as out-of-town Red Sox fans scrambled from seller to seller in search of cheap upgrades. "We were out here last night and we made six trips around the stadium. We couldn't find anything for sale. Tonight, you can't find anyone to buy them."
Indeed, the ticket market is so tilted toward the buyer that BLS contributor Nick Friedell has made his way inside on a freebie. Also, while I was talking with people who were stuck with extras — most of them said friends had made prior commitments and couldn't make it — three different people came up and offered me a free pass inside.
So why was there virtually no demand to get inside to a game that will decide a World Series berth? According to each of the sellers I talked with, everyone's over at the Buccaneers-Seahawks game. Not only is it on Sunday Night Football, but Mike Alstott is also being honored at halftime.
C'mon. Is seeing a halftime ceremony for a former Buc really bigger than possibly seeing the Rays get into their first World Series over the Red Sox?
"Sure, to a lot of people down here it is," said a guy named Mark who was trying to rid himself of two tickets because his friends went to the Bucs game instead. "But here's what I asked them before they went: What are you going to remember for the rest of your life? Mike Alstott walking out to the middle of the field without pads on? Or seeing the Rays go to the World Series? I guess we can see what they picked."
For what it's worth, there's still a good crowd inside The Trop, though it's nowhere near as packed as it was for Game 6. Plenty of blue seats can be seen in the upper deck, though few, if any, can be seen in the lower level. Also, I've seen four people so far wearing Alstott jerseys.