Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How Often Do You Sneak Into Better Seats?

On the MLB season preview edition of The Poscast, sportswriter Joe Posnanski and comedy writer Michael Schur got me very excited for April baseball with their thoughtful, funny banter about the best parts of major league ballparks. However, they also discussed a fact that made me think a little less of each of them.

They're middle-aged rabid baseball fans. So how many times would you guess they've sneaked into better seats at a game? It's gotta be in the dozens, right? Or maybe they've even sneaked into better seats hundreds of times? Sure, Posnanski's been going to games with a press pass for years, but he grew up attending half-full Indians games during a dismal time for the team. And Schur, as a rabid Red Sox fan, has surely sneaked down from the cheap seats at Fenway on a decent number of occasions. Right?

Well, actually, wrong. Between the two of them, in their lives as sports fans, they've moved to seats that weren't theirs a grand total of ONE time. ONE!!!!!!!!!! How the hell could that be, right? Here are each of their explanations, from that same Poscast:

Schur: I am an extreme rule-follower and my worst nightmare is that a person in a uniform, of any kind, approaches me and tells me I have done something wrong. And so I never -- that fear is so overwhelming that it applies to stadium ushers the same way it applies to, like, FBI agents... I triple-, quadruple-check that I'm in the right seat and if there's a problem, I get so scared that I lose my mind. So I would never move down.

Posnanski: I did it once when I was younger. I shouldn't say it like I'm some sort of criminal. The usher told me, "Go on down there, nobody's coming to the game." It was a Royals game and they were terrible, and he's like, "Nobody's coming." I went down and literally could not even enjoy the game because the whole time, I was looking around to see if somebody was gonna come. And then somebody DID come. The whole row was set up but even though they could have sat anywhere and not made me feel like a total jerk, they did walk over and say, "Hey, we're gonna sit over here, but that's our seat, man."... So I did that once, but I will never do that again.

These statements made me think long and hard about my sinful past as a spectator. I practice the art of, um, seat enhancement pretty much every time I attend a game. Hell, pretty much every time I attend any event. I'll steal an old lady's front-row pew at Sunday Mass if she lets her guard down during Communion.

I've weaseled my way to the stage at Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty shows, to box seats at a Knicks game, and into a luxury suite at MetLife Stadium. I've finagled a spot in pretty much every desirable section of Yankee Stadium, although I've only had good tickets a handful of times. I'm not saying this to brag (although I am saying it a little bit to brag) but to illustrate how different my fan experience has been from those of Posnanski and Schur. I respect both men as the geniuses they are, but on this point, I think they're totally missing out.

We've all read about the guys who scam their ways into huge sporting events, but I'm not even talking about them. I just thought that everyone occasionally improved his lie a little bit. It's a tremendous rush to get more than you paid for, and you're not hurting anyone if a premium seat was vacant anyways. (Lonn Trost's comments notwithstanding.) Sure, it's embarrassing to get caught, but who gets embarrassed anymore? At this point, shame about breaking social norms feels like a relic from the black-and-white film era. I'm just wondering who's the outlier here -- me or the rule-following Schur.

So, am I a weirdo for sneaking down so often? Or are the two writers elitists (in this aspect of life, at least) who are missing out on a crucial aspect of fandom? Please let us know what you think by voting in the poll on the side of this page.

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