Look, you're obviously not going to buy Marlins tickets this season. No one of sound mind is doing that. But have you ever considered, even if only as an academic exercise, what you would trade for a pair of Marlins tickets? An expired coupon for 15% off an oil change? Some dusty candy corn from under your couch? Perhaps a few weeks of accumulated detritus from your Ped Egg?
Certainly not much, one would imagine, because the Marlins are really, really bad. They lose not only to virtually every team they encounter, but also to inanimate objects. They’re a train wreck that you can actually look away from, as evidenced by the millions of South Florida residents who would rather take a fastball to the trachea than watch nine innings of Marlins baseball. The team has resorted to closing its upper deck for weeknight games and is alone responsible for 40% percent of the attendance drop in MLB this season (and that doesn't factor in those fans that were booted from the stadium by team-appointed police goons). Whether they’re offering free food or free tickets, it doesn’t really matter, because Marlins Park has all the appeal of a dentist’s waiting room with none of the free gingivitis brochures to help pass the time.
So, mindful of these facts, along with my belief that low hanging fruit tastes the sweetest, I recently decided to have a little fun at the Marlins’ expense. From my home in Chicago, I posted an ad to the Miami/Dade-area Craigslist saying I had two all-inclusive front row seats behind home plate, in section FL6, for a Friday-night game against the Cubs. (For context, seats in that area for June 28's home game against the Padres are priced at $495.) As I explained in the post (below), I unfortunately couldn't use the tickets because my ailing mother-in-law, who doesn’t exist, needed some post-surgery assistance. I said that I’d received the tickets as a gift and would feel guilty selling them for cash, but that I was open to a trade. Electronics, collectibles, raw materials—I’d be willing to consider pretty much anything that people had to offer.
Proposals began pouring in minutes after posting, and to my astonishment, people were bringing a lot to the table. Like, stuff with actual, considerable monetary value. People indicated that they were willing to exchange valuable and sometimes even sentimental items for a Friday night of watching clearance-rack athletes come to terms with their shortcomings.
Here are some of the things I was offered:
- A box of Cuban cigars
- A haircut (Bidder's credentials: "I used to cut hair")
- A suite at the Aqualina Hotel
- A trip in a private jet to anywhere in the continental U.S. (When flying out of South Florida, empty seats permitting)
- Jason Heyward* autographed bat (*Not a Marlin. A divisional rival, in fact.)
- Unspecified movie tickets
- Anabolic steroids (Specifically, I was told that I could at least be given "access" to them, which might've just meant five unsupervised minutes in a Biogenesis supply closet)
- A $400 Bose stereo with built-in CD player
- An unopened flask that says “F*** Your Liver”
- Free batting lessons for children (Because trusting your children to Craigslist strangers is a smart and responsible idea)
- Customized meal plans
- Gym training sessions at an unspecified location
- New, unopened Sprint flip phones
- Original Beatles and Jimi Hendrix 45s from the '60s ("Definitly [sic] collectors items that can be kept to show off and impress others")
- Three Bitcoins ($319.47 value as of today)
Not bad, right? Cuban cigars, private jets, hotel suites—who knew a .319 win percentage could command such luxury? Now, there's no way of knowing if all of those generous (if not misguided) souls would have gone through with the transaction, but surely many of the people were coming from a more sincere place than, say, me. I never responded to any of the offers, feeling a little ashamed of my condescending tack. But I did find some comfort in the assumption that those bidders checked the box score after the game and were relieved to see that they had dodged what turned out to be another futile performance by their hometown team.
(Most of the emails also included kind words of sympathy for my mother-in-law, who I’m happy to report has made a full recovery and will remain healthy until the next time I need an excuse to miss a theme party.)
Having done the experiment on a whim, I realized only after the fact that offering VIP seats may not have been the smartest course of action. Realistically, the bidders were probably more interested in having an elite, behind-the-plate experience than they were actually watching a Marlins baseball game. Having seats like that is all about feeling like you’re a cut above the rest, even if occupying them entails watching a last place team flail about in a pushover division. So while it's tempting to give the Marlins a bit of credit for attracting such impressive bids, I get the sense that enjoying endless free drinks with feet propped up on a fish tank backstop was probably what people were really pining for. After all, not a single person who emailed me mentioned anything about being a diehard fan, or even a lukewarm fan—not even a Nigerian scam artist who was pretending to be a fan so that I might send a Western Union money order to redeem FABULOUS BIG LOTTOS $$$ PRIZE EXCLUSIVE NUDE PICS PLEASE RESPOND IMMEDIATE LIMITED OFFER. And that just reinforces something we already knew: These days, the worst seats in Marlins Park are in the dugout.