Jeff Pelline: All-Star Game losing its luster?
For years, the San Francisco Giants have been using this year’s All-Star Game as a lure to sell season tickets. Tonight the 78th All-Star game will be played at AT&T Park, the first time since 1984 that the Giants have hosted the game.
The marketing mantra: buy season tickets and you’re guaranteed a seat for the All-Star game.
But guess what? One day before the big game, tickets still were plentiful – albeit at a steep price.
No less than 742 ticket offers were listed by season-ticket holders for the All-Star Game and 774 offers were listed for last night’s Home Run Derby, according to the Giants “Double Play” Web site on Monday. Some of the deals included up to six tickets.
By contrast, only 200 offers are listed for the Dodger-Giants game later this week by the same season-ticket holders.
You’ve got to be prepared to fork out big bucks for the All-Star game, however.
A pair of seats in the bleachers goes for $660, according to the Web site; seats along the first base line go for up to thousands per pair. Face value ranges up to $285 per ticket.
For a lot of people, the All-Star Game is a metaphor for professional baseball: too commercialized. (I highly recommend “Sandy Koufax: A lefty’s legacy,” by Jane Leavey to gain more insights into this perspective.)
I’ve been bitten by the sponsorship merry-go-round: One of my favorite scoops was breaking the story for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998 that the Giants new baseball stadium was going to be called PacBell Park. The team was not prepared to make the announcement yet, but a good source leaked it to me.
Since then, however, the park has been renamed SBC Park and now AT&T Park, reflecting rampant consolidation in communications – the business I wrote about at the time. My son will read the tattered clip one day and think I got the story wrong. Oh well.
The All-Star game has lost its luster, too. I remember when Willie Mays got excited about such a special game, because he could play for a bigger, national audience.
“I think it was Ted Williams who said they invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays,” fellow baseball great Ernie Banks told the Associated Press this week. “He was right about that.”
Nowadays it’s hard just to get some of the all-stars to play in the game.
This year Barry Bonds, who “owns” San Francisco as Mays once did, barely was voted onto the starting All-Star team.
Though he made the starting lineup in left field – thanks in part to a last-minute marketing blitz by the Giants – Bonds opted not to play in last night’s “State Farm Insurance” (yet another sponsorship) Home Run Derby. Many fans were bitterly disappointed.
After all, knocking the ball into “McCovey Cove” at AT&T Park is a Bonds’ trademark.
The home-run king cited his age and possible disruption of his swing.
The Giants’ owner, needless to say, expressed his disappointment. The team is counting on the three-day All-Star Celebration to build its fan base. The Giants now are in last place in the National League West.
Times change. Our family has been to AT&T Park dozens of time. Five years ago, we even had a sign at the ballpark light up “Happy #1” on April 8 for my son’s first birthday. But we’re going to sit this one out, alternating between the boob tube and playing in the yard.
I think I’ll bring out my box of baseball cards from childhood – looking at photos of Mays, McCovey, Koufax, Drysdale and Banks – and reminisce about the “old days.”
Jeff Pelline is the editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturdays. Contact him at 477-4235, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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