Baseball Fan Mistakes I Used To Make

January 3, 2015
Since I've started researching everything there is to know about various baseball venues, I've learned a lot. Some things have saved me money, some things have saved me time, and some things have saved me a lot of aggravation.

Even I still don't always get it right going to a game, but I've definitely learned to avoid certain pitfalls. Here's a list of four mistakes I used to make in my misspent youth...

1) Buying tickets from the team website. By itself, this isn't always the worst thing to do. Many teams, like the Brewers and Nationals, offer pretty good ticket deals on their website, and buying from the team at face value can be your best option for a high demand game.


But over the years I could have saved a TON of money by exploring all of the other options...like StubHub, eBay and other third parties (especially now that SeatGeek is a help with that), checking to see if there are sites like Travelzoo that offer deals, or simply buying from the team box office. I can easily stop at the box office in Philly since it's close; most games aren't sold out and you can find some seats on game day and pay the ticket without the obnoxious fees. Game day ticket sales are very popular at Fenway in Boston too.

You're also limited in your choices from the team, although this has been changing. When you order from the Phillies, for example, you select an area of seats and the "best available" (or so they say) ticket is put in front of you to buy. On third party sites like StubHub, you can choose the exact section you want to sit and see what is available and the pricing.

Teams are getting better at this, though. The Yankees and White Sox, for example, have seating maps that show the exact seats that are available, which is even better than StubHub. Remember though, you're still paying the ticket fees.

2) Not looking into all my transportation options. Just driving to the ballpark and hoping to find a good parking spot is not a great strategy, and will likely result in your fuming at both the traffic and the cost of parking. I have had many a ballgame experience at least temporarily marred by this frustration, especially when visiting a ballpark for the first time.



I used to be able to tolerate the traffic on downtown Baltimore when I was able to park in a garage for $5, but since they're nowhere near that cheap anymore, I just use the Light Rail if I'm by myself and park for free in Lutherville. With other people, I'll use ParkWhiz.

In my first visit to Comerica Park in Detroit, I paid $20 to park almost at the front door, because I was concerned about leaving my car too far away in Detroit. This was 2001 money, so $20 was a lot to park. In my second visit a year later, I accidentally stumbled on a cool tip, parking at the Fox Theatre garage much earlier in the day and paying just $2 for the whole night. And it was just a few steps futher away.

I drove my car to Citi Field once too. Once.

3) Just getting a hot dog at the game. OK, maybe that's not really a mistake. Nowhere does a hot dog taste better. But until researching Citizens Bank Park...and this is my home ballpark...I didn't know about the roast pork and provolone from Tony Luke's, the Campo's Heater sandwich, the Schmitter, or the Bull Dog from Bull's BBQ. Seriously. And I wouldn't have a clue what Federal Donuts was. Talk about missing out.



Nowadays every ballpark has so many great food choices that it's worth checking it out beforehand and deciding what you might like. At ballpark prices, don't just get a simple hot dog and popcorn. Next time you're at Citi Field, try Pat LaFrieda's meatball sliders. Or the Carl's cheesesteak at Yankee Stadium. Don't leave PNC Park in Pittsburgh without trying a Primanti Bros. sandwich with fries and slaw piled on. And a Holeman & Finch burger at Turner Field is worth the price of a Braves game ticket.

4) Not knowing about the local scene. For years I bought one beer at Camden Yards because I didn't want to (and still don't) pay ballpark prices for beer. It never occurred to me that I could knock down a couple of cheap Natty Bohs across the street at Slider's before the game. I made two visits to Cincinnati to see Reds games without having any clue about the restaurants and nightlife across the river in Newport. There's a great bunch of eateries near E. 4th Street in Cleveland, just a short walk from Progressive Field.



And would you believe I didn't even notice the tailgating party in my first trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee? Nor did I know about the sheer number of taverns that would have given me a ride to the game.

Knowing what I know now, I suppose it's a testament to how much of a baseball fan I am that I enjoyed the games anyway. My father taught me well.

But it's so much better now that I know what I'm doing.
 

Which Ballpark Has The Best Food?

December 13, 2014


With ballparks featuring a full menu these days, I am asked this question by almost every radio show that is generous enough to have me on. It’s a fun question and I don’t mind answering it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge.

Truthfully, since there are items worth trying and not worth trying at every venue—and since they almost all have some version of nachos, pizza, cheesesteaks, burgers, and of course, unusually topped hot dogs—you can probably find something that’s a...
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Try A Local, Bad Beer at the Game

December 10, 2014

Ballpark beer is so ridiculously priced nowadays that I’ve been staying sober at the game. It’s just not worth it to me; I’ll be a designated driver and get my free soda or have a few at a nearby tavern.

I suppose the plus of this is fewer inebriated people at the game; just Google “Ten Cent Beer Night” to learn what can happen when 50,000 sports fans can afford unlimited alcohol. And apparently some fans will still pay $9 for a Coors Light; far be it for me to stop them.

Many teams h...
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New Book About Old Comiskey

August 9, 2014
Looks like my buddy Floyd Sullivan at ChicagoNow, author of the endearing and humorous fan essay "Waiting For The Cubs" (see my review of that book here), has written a new book about the old Comiskey Park.

Well, I guess you can just call it "Comiskey Park" now, since the "New Comiskey Park" is now called "U.S. Cellular Field".

Check out Old Comiskey Park: Essays and Memories of the Historic Home of the Chicago White Sox, 1910-1991 here.

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A Universal Ballgame Parking Tip

July 30, 2014
In two recent ballpark outings, in Boston and Baltimore, I have learned that not only has the price of parking at a ballgame escalated, but also that the price is higher for high demand games these days.

Thankfully in Boston I always know better than to drive to Fenway Park; I know traffic in Kenmore Square on game day and parking prices are going to be insane. This last visit was no exception, but even I was surprised at what some lots almost a half mile away from the ballpark were charging. ...
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The Wrigley Rooftops Need Better Legal Counsel

July 9, 2014


I have been keeping up with interest on the ongoing saga that is the Cubs vs. Wrigley Rooftop owners. The latest story, other than the Rooftop owners offering a “two sign” concession to the Cubs, is that the recent Rooftop defamation lawsuit against a local sports consultant was thrown out of court.

When you get a suit thrown out of court that quickly, you’ve probably put up a weak argument. At least, that’s the perception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the background of this, briefly, t...
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Reaching 203

June 28, 2014


Joe Mock at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama

Fans whose yearly vacations revolve around a baseball road trip probably know the name Joe Mock. If they don’t, they should.

Mock is the author and webmaster at Baseballparks.com, the premier website for baseball roadtrippers. He is also the author of 2001’s "Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide", a delightfully illustrated book about the 30 MLB parks in use at the time. He regularly contributes to USA Today’s Sports Weekly about the North Amer...
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Cool New Stuff at Citizens Bank Park

March 28, 2014
It’s pretty cool to park in Lot S at Citizens Bank Park, even if there isn’t a ballgame going on.

Lot S is the Media Lot, and yes, expert that I am on all things Citizens Bank Park, I didn’t know that either.

Thanks to Ken Dunek and JerseyMan Magazine, and to the kindness of the Philadelphia Phillies, I was invited to a Phillies 2014 Media Event, where the Phillies and the nice Aramark folks tell hungry newspeople what’s new at the ballpark this year. Oh, and to share hot dogs with chee...
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Baseball’s Biggest Loss of 2014

March 9, 2014
Few things were funnier than my father’s occasional profanity-laden philosophy.

Before baseball's last collective bargaining agreement, I asked him if he would quit watching if the players went on strike again. Like everyone else, he was angry as hell about 1994 and once said to me that he wouldn't care if he never saw another millionaire play baseball again.

But this time he said, "You know Kurt, I've been thinking about that. In life you have to give up ****. I gave up smoking, I gave up d...
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StubHub’s “All-In” Pricing

January 31, 2014



Recently I received an e-mail from the nice folks at StubHub, informing me that the ticket resale giant now features “all-in” pricing, meaning that the price you see listed on the screen is the actual price that you’ll pay for the ticket.

In their page describing the format, StubHub compares the ticket pricing structure to “a well-known competitor” that adds a couple of fees to the original price of the ticket, so that the consumer ends up paying $72 for a $54 ticket.

Wonder who that ...
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