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Ticket blitz

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2009 08:36 AM

A friend of mine, Yankee fan (keep reading), had a story for me last week.

He was sitting with a friend at a Kenmore Square watering hole, hoping to catch a few innings of that evening’s Red Sox-Yankees game on TV before making the commute home. On the spur of the moment, however, they decided to try their luck at securing tickets for the game about to start a few hundred feet away.

They passed a few scalpers on their way to the box office at Gate A, where they were greeted by an unexpected surprise. Not only were there tickets available, for face, at the nearly vacant ticket window, but they managed to have a variety of seats from which to choose.

Ten minutes later, they were sitting in the grandstand section behind home plate.

Apparently, this was consecutive sellout No. 496.

Last night was the historic 500th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park, where a celebration of the fans took place amidst Boston’s 6-1 win over the Florida Marlins, as ironic an opponent you could imagine on such an evening. But after all the gift cards were given away in classy gestures by the Red Sox, how many unused tickets do you think littered the pockets of scalpers along Brookline Ave.?

OK, technically those seats were sold to someone, at some point. But, really, what constitutes a sellout? Is it tabulated prior to day-of-game releases, or in the official fifth inning, after all day-of-game tickets are assumed sold? Nobody is quite clear on how the questionable relationship between the Sox and legal scalper Ace Tickets works, but take a look at the bevy of seats available (at marked-up prices, of course) for tonight’s series finale. There’s even the disclaimer: “Please note, not all tickets are posted to our website. If you are looking for a quantity or type of seat that you do not see listed below, please call us…”

Again, perhaps those seats are technically sold to the team’s official scalper, but I’m imagining not a lot of folks are itching to pony upwards of $375 to see the Marlins.

Here’s the ultimate question though: If it were so easy for someone to purchase tickets to a Red Sox-Yankees game last week, shouldn’t we be a bit leery about some of those mid-April, rainy evening games against the likes of the Royals, Twins, and A’s over the past six seasons? And is it a sellout if tickets are still available? I’d say no, but that’s only because I understand what the word means.

Ultimately, it’s a moot point. The sellout streak is a testament to the fans, and proof that the Red Sox remain a passionate target in this region for millions of people who flock to the ballpark on a nightly basis. Most are even there for baseball.

But if the Red Sox are fudging this sellout streak in any way in order to create a façade for rabid ticket demand, then we’ve got an issue on our hands. After all, if you thought the only way to grab tickets to a game you really wanted to get to was by visiting a legal scalper, wouldn’t you go that route? And really, if the team isn’t getting anything out of such deals, they wouldn’t be partnered with them in the first place.

Of course, when you ultimately find seats at the ticket window for much less than you paid the Red Sox’ “secondary ticketing partner,” well, you’ll feel a bit duped, no? And are these, in fact, the tickets that Ace couldn’t get rid of in time, shipped across the street as rejects only able to fetch face value?

Five hundred is quite an accomplishment indeed. But while the Red Sox were busy patting your back for one night in thanks for giving them millions upon millions of reasons to smile, shouldn’t there be some question as to the validity of it all?

Sellout No. 501 is tonight. Tickets still available.

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