Deplorable summer baseball

I love baseball. I like a lot of sports, but I love baseball. There’s a romance to the slow-moving game, a poetry to the pitching especially, and a feeling that it’s a game from a better and simpler time. And baseball is still remarkably and blessedly free of the leftist politics that has infected football at all levels and basketball at the NBA level.

But as everyone knows, seeing pro sports games can be really expensive. Taking a family of four to a ball game — after tickets, parking, food, drinks, etc. — can easily run a few hundred bucks. This is frankly ridiculous, and is one reason so many people have quit going to games (and movies, for that matter).

As I’ve mentioned, Tradwife and I live in the heart of downtown Phoenix, literally five minutes walk from the Diamondbacks facility, Chase Field. We’re very fortunate in that Chase Field is the least expensive ball park in Major League Baseball, but of course whomever manages the place goes out of their way to hide that fact.

We’ve had a great summer of baseball so far. Up to the All Star break, the Diamondbacks had the best start in franchise history, and the ballpark’s been fuller than I’ve seen it in years. But I still see people spending money in stupid fashion, because they don’t pay attention to detail and they fall for asinine marketing tricks.

Here’s how I keep ballpark trips relatively cheap:

– Tickets. I use a multi-pronged approach to the overpriced tickets. This year the Dbacks ran a “Summer Pass” promo, and for $100 I got two tickets to every single home game in June and July. If I want to formally upgrade seats (rather than our usual “self upgrade”) I can do it through the app for that promo, or I can get free VetTix. Lastly, MLB offers half-price Sunday home games to military/veterans/first responders, so I can get those cheaply if I want really great seats.

– Beer. It wouldn’t be a ball game without a few cold beers! But of course Chase Field goes out of their way to hide the cheap light beer and promote the expensive ones. Every third concession at Chase has “value items,” and I get the value beer, which is 14 ounces for $4. I buy two at a time per person, so it’s $8 for 28 ounces of beer. Compare this with the “large domestic draft” at $9.50 for 24 ounces and you’ll see how I come out ahead. But of course when I try to explain this to people in line, their eyes usually roll back in their head and they buy the big 24 ouncer of the exact same beer instead of the two smaller cups. Less beer for more money! As Einstein supposedly said, “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the universe.”

Heh, funny sidebar about the beer prices. At one game last month, Tradwife and I grabbed our value beers and went into the “Coors Light Strike Zone” which is sort of a patio with a bar out in right field. It’s a pretty good view of the game — way better than the rubbish seats of the Summer Pass — and there’s a pool table. Anyway, we were shooting some pool prior to the game and the Strike Zone bartender emerged. He noticed our 14-ounce value beers and commented that he had beer inside the bar and that it’s cheaper than our value beer. I know his beer is $9.50 for 24 ounces. I said, “You must be bad at math.” He was unhappy, and literally has not spoken to me since, even though we go to the Strike Zone almost every game. (Yes, being flippant to a bartender contradicts my earlier post, but sometimes I can’t resist being an asshole.)

– Food. Similar deal to the beer. You look for the value food items — $2 hot dogs, $2 corn dogs, cheap sodas, various other poisonous crap — which like the value beer are carefully hidden at the very bottom of the menu. I’m generally low-carb, so I don’t eat at the ballpark all that much (though sometimes I can’t resist the traditional hot dog). But if you have a bunch of kids, you can fill them up for cheap on hot dogs, popcorn, etc. Tradwife did this when she brought a gaggle of little nieces and nephews to a game, and it was pretty cheap.

So that’s how I do the ballpark. We go to tons of games — a few dozen a season — but still manage to keep the costs under control.

We are deplorable baseball fans.

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