my dad is a part of a group of work colleagues who, before each season, get together to split a season ticket package for the bucs. for the last few years, he’s asked me to send him my preferences before the night they sit down to divvy up the tickets - but this year he asked me to join them.
i sat down at the blawnox max and erma’s restaurant (perhaps the most 'yinzer' restaurant possible) with a grayscale copy of the season schedule (no color printer at work hoot hoot) covered in notations and preferences for the 81 home games that were up for grabs. “so and so is getting married this weekend, the in-laws are in town that weekend, there’s no way in hell i’m going to see the brewers on a monday night - that has the potential to wreck my entire week.”
besides dad and i, there were 8 other people at our long table - and in between the small talk (complaining about the couponing habits of their wives), the rest of the group similarly perused versions of the pirates schedule. it felt tense, but probably because i was the new guy (30 years younger than the next one before me) and i had one very clear goal in mind:
get tickets to opening day
i had a half day of vacation coming my way and i wanted to spend it soaking up the first drops of spring baseball in pittsburgh (literally, because it’s definitely going to rain on monday). i had missed all my other opportunities to get opening day tickets in advance, and with misty eyes checked stubhub daily - only to see tickets in decent sections still running in excess of $70 a seat. oh sure, I could sit in the outfield, but when I go to games I typically like to watch baseball - looking at starling marte’s butt is only good for so long. plus - drunk strangers in the afternoon during baseball? nothanksforever
dad drew our draft number from the envelope - 7
nooooooooooooooo dad whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. hopes instantly faded. i’ll spend opening day sitting at my desk at work with earbuds in, cussing.
and when the server came to take our order, the dudes sent her away. “we’re going to pick tickets first, then order.” WHAT. IT’S 7:30. THIS IS GOING TO TAKE AN HOUR. I EAT AT 5:00, THE EARLIEST ALLOWABLE DINNER TIME UNDER NATO LAW. SINCE WE CLEARLY WON’T BE GETTING OPENING DAY TICKETS, MAYBE WE’LL USE OUR FIRST PICK ON SEPTEMBER 17TH, A TUESDAY NIGHT GAME AGAINST THE PADRES AND I’LL JUST EAT THOSE TICKETS INSTEAD.
the grand marshal of the ticket draft began the process “okay everyone, are we ready? let’s go. number one?”
and then it happened. with the draft underway, everyone at the table immediately flipped their pirates printable schedules to page 2 - THE PROMOTIONAL CALENDAR. it was like the first time i saw the warden rip raquel welch’s poster from andy dufrense’s cell wall. i don’t know what is happening, but this is awesome.
i haven’t seen a group of grown men fawn over the prospects of seeing fireworks and third eye blind like this group tore through those skyblast and fan jam dates. these tickets are costing you 50 bucks a seat, bros. you know fireworks will be free on july 4th, right? and i could be wrong, but the last time somebody paid 50 bucks to see third eye blind play 6 songs was back when andrew hamilton was president BECAUSE NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS HAVE EVER HAPPENED
6 pittsburghers passed on the idea of going to opening day, and with the 7th pick, dad and i made plans to see the pirates stumble out of spring training and back into pittsburgh. and if jeanmar gomez ends up pitching that day, that’s cool, at least it’ll be raining and nobody will see me crying