The luckiest people watch All-Star game on TV yeah, right


July 12, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

You are a baseball fan. Meaning, you've got All-Star fever -- but no cure.

The cure is a ticket.

And, unless you're a season-ticket holder or a Congressman, you don't have one. (Yes, there was a lottery for the few leftover tickets, but you had a better chance of winning PowerBall.)

Basically, two kinds of people have tickets: Rich people. And really rich people. Everyone else watches the game on TV.

If you needed a reason to hate the moneyed class, now you've got it. The poorest person at the game will be Eli Jacobs, who's just thankful he gets to eat on the tab in the company sky box.

So, you do what you can.

You root for a rainout. Or you hope it's 120 degrees at game time and the fat cats get big ugly sweat stains on their Ralph Lauren shirts.

You hope the panhandlers are not one bit polite.

I don't have to tell you who's going to the game. The kind of people who think Carl Hubbell invented that telescope. They're eating their first hot dog of the year -- how quaint -- and then around the fourth inning they finally look out on the field and say, "Hey, how come everyone's wearing different uniforms?"

You wish there were a quiz before you could get in the park. Sample questions: Who's Mike Piazza (hint, he doesn't work for Domino's)? What's a designated hitter (hint, it's not Bob Packwood)?

This game is not for real baseball fans. It's the game where the CEO takes the company seats. Dock loaders need not apply.

Of course, there are the people who share season tickets -- the six guys who go in on two seats. And so, who gets the All-Star tickets? That's right. They sell them to scalpers and split the money. Usually, it's enough to fund your retirement.

You have to understand, though, the madness is mostly your fault. It's your fault and the Washington lawyers' fault and the fault of whoever made Camden Yards into everyone's field of dreams. If you can't get a ticket to a midweek Orioles game against Cleveland, you know you have no shot of getting into the All-Star Game.

Baseball is too big here. It's beyond big. It's beyond dino-big. If you want a ticket to an All-Star Game, wait till next year. The game's in Pittsburgh, where baseball is more a rumor than anything else. You'll be able to get all the seats you want at the gate.

I've been fielding calls all week from sportswriter friends asking why Baltimore is such a baseball phenomenon. In most years, the All-Star Game is a nice diversion to come to your town, but nobody gets really excited. You don't see stories about $60 tickets getting scalped for $1,000. You couldn't get $1,000 for a World Series ticket last year.

Everywhere else, the game is a midsummer change of pace, and then it goes away to be pretty much forgotten -- sort of like "Last Action Hero."

This is different.

Part of it is, of course, that we like a party. Call it Lower Slobovia Week in town, and somebody's got tables set up outside the Convention Center and 20,000 people are there, sampling the cuisine. We're the city that feeds.

So, call it All-Star Week (Why not All-Star Month? All-Star Year?) and set up FanFest -- where you pay $8 at the gate and $40 for a hat while you walk through a baseball carnival -- and people are knocking the fences down in 100-degree heat to get in.

Come on. This is a town where they sell out the celebrity home-run hitting contest.

And there's also a free street festival, which is for people who get shut out of everything else. That's supposed to make everyone happy.

You know better.

Going to FanFest is like getting invited to a dinner party and then getting kicked out after the hors d'oeuvres.

(Speaking of dinner parties, while you're out there in line in the heat, the favored few will be at the lavish baseball gala tonight feasting on gourmet food paid for by that ticket you're buying. Gives you a warm feeling, doesn't it?)

But, look, how bad is it?

Do you want to go to a game where "fans" have to be reminded to cheer? Where people think Barry Bonds is a money fund?

Of course not.

You can do what I do in these instances: stay home, watch the game on TV and feel superior. We know who the real fans are.

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