A scam of Giant proportions

Updated: February 11, 2005, 4:36 PM ET
By Ray Ratto | Special to ESPN.com

San Francisco has been granted the 2007 All-Star Game, and, well, good for them. I mean, they have to play the game somewhere, right?

Besides, with three years' lead time, the Giants will find exciting new ways to bleed the suckers to go with the ones they already have.

No, wait. They already have. And you'll want to be sitting for this.

They want you, or someone like you, to guarantee your seat at the All-Star Game, which is fine as it goes. Extortion with a smile is always part of the big league experience.

But the Giants have eased it into overdrive with this one.

They want you, or someone like you, to guarantee your seat at the All-Star Game by committing to buy season tickets for each of the next three seasons.

That's right. We're talking 2005, 2006 and 2007. Even by professional sports standards of highway robbery, this is ski-mask/Tech 9 quality stuff.

We're talking 30,000 seats (Major League Baseball takes the first 12,000 seats off the top as their price for bringing the circus to town), times as much as $2,064, the cost of one lower box season ticket, times three.

That's a good $12 million to $13 million or more, the Giants get over the next three years if you, and 30,000 people like you, acquiesce to this exciting new scheme for financial defoliation.

Understand what we're talking about here: You pay $6,192 over three years for the RIGHT to buy an All-Star Game seat. If you want to bring your family, that's almost 25 grand for four seats with a likely face value of $1,000.

Somewhere, Bernie Ebbers is smiling.

We're not talking the World Series here. Or the Super Bowl. Or the NBA Finals. Or the Wimbledon final. Or the hospitality tent at The Masters.

We're talking the All-Star Game. We're talking the Home Run Derby, and a game in which your favorite player either may or may not play, and if so, for a maximum of three innings.

Now maybe you've got that kind of money. Maybe you have a grandparent with a healthy portfolio who is starting to look a little wonky at holidays. Maybe you've got a bank that works on the honor system.

But in the good old days, the most a team would try to soak you for was one year's worth of season ticket money. It was an unequal relationship, but it wasn't the kind of thing that would make the Better Business Bureau bleed out its eyes.

This, in short, really is too much. Even by the already preposterous standard professional sports has managed to set for itself, this is downright extraordinary.

Makes a person wonder why Bud Selig doesn't award the 2014 game to Los Angeles Of Anaheim right now and let the Angels get a real head start.

The Giants have been particularly clever when it comes to making Andrew Jackson beg for mercy. Even before the new ballpark was built, the Giants have ridden the triple thrill-ride of Barry Bonds, Dusty Baker and Brian Sabean to an extended run of successful baseball. And now with a new park, they have filled the stadium to 98 percent of capacity for each of the last five years.

Of course, they tell you they've been losing money the whole time, which leads one to believe that they are either fibbing or should be dragged into bankruptcy court by their forked tongues. But that's another story.

Anyway, this All-Star Game thing puts them in an entirely different league because if, God forbid, this idea works, it will become standard operating procedure throughout North America.

This is even better than $12 beer, or selling the same ticket twice, or home and road alternate jerseys, or any of the other magical ways teams have found to take your money.

Of course, you could say no. You could say "Enough." You could say, "Isn't this the same thing as signing a 40-year-old pitcher to a four-year deal?"

And they'd look back at you, hold up a picture of David Wells and say, "Yeah? So?"

Now if you have to think about that for more than a second, then you absolutely must sign on to the Giants' All-Star Game shakedown plan, for your money is in far too dangerous hands where it is.

Then again, you'll be able to tell your grandchildren you stopped going to baseball games when you start getting charged after the fact for season tickets to games you never attended in exchange for a chance to buy World Series tickets your team may never play in.

Because that's about the only thing they haven't tried yet. And we emphasize the word "yet."

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com

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