Nats v. O’s: A Tale of Two Openers
For the four-bagger print edition of Washington City Paper, I wrote this week about Opening Day. I'm old enough to know that Opening Day around here, like everything else everywhere else, used to be better.
I got the sense that nobody in D.C. cared about Opening Day this year.
Nationals brass I spoke with say my perception is wrong, and that they were happy with both the ticket sales to the first game of 2011 and with the actual turnout.
I dunno 'bout that.
Perhaps my perception was distorted by the dreary weather here last week and all those stories the liberal media printed about how tickets to the Nationals/Braves game were going for nothing.
But using a proven and scientific method I refer to as "surfing over to Craigslist a whole lot," I'd been following the movement of tickets for the openers here and in Baltimore.
My conclusion from all this exacting research was there was a much huger buzz about the O's game than the Nats' opener before raindrops or sunny days were forecast, respectively, here and to the North.
And I never came across any Craigslist ad for Nats tickets quite like the one placed by O's fan Scott Zakheim.
Zakheim knew for a while he was getting married on Sunday at a hotel in the Inner Harbor. He also knew that he wanted to take his new bride and fellow O's fanatic, Rebecca, to Opening Day at Camden Yards. But as the big day — the game, not the wedding — drew closer, Zakheim began thinking it might not happen.
"I jump on StubHub and Craigslist and all I can find is Standing-Room only for $75 a pop or lower level on the baselines for something like $275 a pop. Insane!" Scott tells me. "I tried making some last ditch calls to some family connections and to a friend of mine who is a broker in NYC. Nothing. $65 for SRO. $250 plus down low."
So Zakheim did what any real fan would do in his situation: He played the nuptials card.
“Bride and Groom Need Opening Day Tickets,” his Craigslist ad said. “Got married yesterday in downtown. Want to go to Opening Day to celebrate!!! Will take anything – uppers or lowers. Budget is 100-150.”
And, a scalper responded and, Gandhi-like, turned down bigger profits and sold the couple a pair in section 334, row 12, for $150.
"I think these seats were going for $100-$125 on Craigslist and probably pushing $150 each on the ground at Camden," he says. "It was a little wedding miracle."
Would anybody go to those lengths to see a Nats game?