Monday, August 27, 2007


Every once in a while, I'll get an e-mail from an internet ticket agency, asking if I'd like to put an ad of theirs on my blog, in return for a monthly payment. It usually contains a well thought-out line like this:

Our site is www.[____].com, and I feel as though we would be a good fit for your site

Right. My site that has a sign right at the top that says "ad-free blog." What they're sending me, of course, is a form letter. Love the form letter. Nothing says "you're special" like a message with your name plunked into a pre-determined spot within the text, in the wrong font, with a telltale space between it and the comma that follows.

But that only scratches the surface when it comes to why I don't accept these offers.

Can you think of a lower form of life than "ticket scalper"? Just because they do it behind the guise of a colorful, fancy web page instead of standing on the corner with a bad beard and worse gut, it doesn't make it any less sleazy. (In fact, the dude on the street wouldn't even charge a "handling fee.")

These agencies buy up all the tickets to the games. The games that we the fans (that includes most sports bloggers) want to go to. They're part of the reason tickets are so hard to get. Then they go and mark up all the tickets they take out of your hands to ridiculous rates. Current example: Sox-Yanks at Fenway in September. $20 standing room tickets going for as high as $228. And I only checked one site. Then add the service charges (which are higher than what the teams themselves charge) and shipping. $30 Green Monster standing room? Try $745 a pop, from your "friends" at the ticket scalping site. $100 field boxes are marked up a mere 15 times to 1500 bucks each.

Yet almost every Red Sox blog I read proudly advertises for these ticket-sellers. (Often above the links to their friends' blogs! And often with ads for fucking Yankee tickets!) Why? You'd have to ask the bloggers, but I'd guess their answer would be, "Someone offered me money to do something that takes a minute to do, so I took it." And if you need that money, and you're comfortable with the process, that's your call. I have had friends accept the offers, and I still read their blogs. It's a tough call, especially when you need money. Maybe you use it to cover the cost of keeping up your blog. Fine. (Another option: consider getting a free blog.) I just hope these particular bloggers ask themselves if it's worth it to shill for the exact people I'm pretty sure we all despise. I want my friends to be happy, but if that involves making money, I hope they'd consider doing something creative and making that money themselves, or at the very least, accepting advertising money from a company that doesn't go against what they stand for. And of course I worry that they might think I think less of them, which I don't. Again, it's their call.

It's like how my sister shops at Wal-Mart. How am I supposed to give her the anti-Wal-Mart spiel, knowing she's got four kids to raise on her own? "Don't go to that store that allows you to get all your shopping done in one trip, instead of having to lug around four kids to five different stores!" All I can do is tell her what Wal-Mart is doing to our country, and to get used to the place, because all her kids will probably end up working there one day, as it will be the only store in town. But I wouldn't boycott my wonderful sister because of the way she chooses to live. And I won't (necessarily, ha!) boycott your blog for having an ad on it.

But come on, ticket agencies? Is the idea of having a little extra money that powerful? And do you really think they like your blog, and that's why they chose to ask you? They don't read these blogs. I've seen blogs with one post, with an ad from the same places that tried to suck me in. Can you imagine how filthy rich these people are? That they can give 50 bucks a month to some blog that no one knows about, no one's ever read, and barely contains any content at all? And do these sites need this advertising? You think people can't type the word "tickets" into Google? I'd say this boggles my mind, but knowing how powerful money is, it really doesn't at all. It's too bad, really. Also, if I had any ad on my site, I know I'd feel my writing change. "Ooh, I better not make fun of Bush, what if my advertiser's a right-winger?" I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I compromised my writing like that. The great thing about having my blog, which is free, by the way, is getting to say exactly what I'm thinking. Nobody can "fire" me, provided I don't start threatening people's lives or something.

What can be done about these ticket agencies? How can we stop them from taking our tickets away? Step one is to not advertise for them, but I think we've covered that. Step two, in my opinion, is to stop selling tickets to them. I understand that sometimes, if you really want to go to a sold-out game, you have little choice but to go to these sites. Do that if you must. (Note, though, that if you pay closer attention to when tickets go on sale, and you try hard using the phone and your computer, or going to the box office, you can get tickets to games through the team.) But if we all stop selling to these scalping sites, that will cut down their supply severely. Let the battle end when the tickets run out on the onsale date.

But Jere, I can make so much cash selling my sweet tickets! Again, if money is the most important thing in your life, go ahead, somebody's gonna be desperate enough to buy. But consider selling your tickets to your friends. Surely you have friends who live in your area who like the team you do. They're having the same difficulty getting tickets as everyone else. Think of how good you'll feel giving them tickets--even for a little above face value. Compared to a thousand-percent markup, it's a bargain for them, and you won't lose any money. Or give them away for half-price, or for free! These are your friends! Stop being a businessperson for two seconds! Or go to craigslist and see if some poor schlub who's never been to Fenway is looking for seats. Or put them on ebay--at least there's a better chance they go to a real person instead of to some agency that will resell them for 20 times their value. What saddens me about those sites, though, is seeing the "regular" people selling their seats at agency-esque prices. If those agencies didn't make us all feel like we can get a thousand bucks for fifty-dollar seats, people wouldn't turn into ruthless businessmen when they've got extras.

And to go back to: if you need tickets to a sold-out game. Try the above-mentioned sites before going to the scalper sites, and, I hate to say this, but you could also try an actual scalper. Go right before the game, or wait until the first inning. When they name their price, go way below it, and start walking away. They'll take less then face value over nothing, believe me. Also, snicker as you walk away with their tickets while peering back at them, like they had something in their teeth. They probably did anyway.

Making this all more difficult, of course, is the fact that these horrible sites are infiltrating the sports leagues. "SH" has teamed up with mlb. So now, everyone wins, except you, the real person. "A. Tickets" advertises on NESN. I just think this is the teams/leagues taking advantage of the people that were messing up their system: "Hey, we'll allow you to do that, but we want a cut of the take." So who am I defending? I'm defending all of us against anyone who's ripping us off.

For anyone who advertises for "SH," consider that their owner said this:
And while some, like Heffernan, argue that real fans with limited resources are priced out in this new ticket economy, Jeff Fluhr, S___H__'s chief executive, says: "I would argue that the true fans are the ones who are willing to pay the most for the tickets."
That's what we're dealing with. And I understand that their site is strictly fans selling to other fans, but where do you think the service fees go, and, again, where do you think the sellers get the idea to markup their tickets so much? That site was the one that sold Monster seats before anyone had any. Maybe if we all "promised" them we'd sell through them if we won the chance to buy the tickets and then "disappeared." Or maybe if we all agreed to advertise for them, and then changed our blogs to anti-ticket agency blogs. There's a lot of ways we could sabotage these people. Feel free to come up with your own ideas.

I'll end this with one more example of the ridiculousness of this whole thing. I got this e-mail few months ago.
A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripes Advertising
I’ve been browsing your Red Sox website,, and I’m very impressed with it.
I’m interested in text link advertising on your site, and would like to know if you’re willing to consider this opportunity. Please let me know.
I can't believe any blogger would see this and think, "Hey, they like me! They're impressed! Yes, please, I'll do whatever you say!" But people have! (More likely, though, it was simply, "We'll give you money if you--" "Okay!")

Maybe I'm wrong about that site, though. Maybe the guy genuinely likes my blog. Maybe he feels my crystal clear ad-free stance, and all my posts about how much I hate companies like his, provide that edge that their site is looking for. And maybe he just happens to think that for some reason, despite being a Sox fan, I'm "in pinstripes." He misreads the title (every time), but it makes perfect sense that I'd be "in pinstripes," so he never questions it.

If you want to debate any of this, great. I know these agencies defend themselves by saying they're doing it for the people. We can talk about that or whatever. But please don't try to make me feel bad about my opinion or tell me that not wanting money is idealistic or whatever. I don't feel bad about being "PC" or "liberal" or "agreeing with Michael Moore" or "bringing up 2004 to Yankee fans three years later." Nothing can make me stop being that way, or feeling like I feel about the way money dictates how society works. Not even that stupid Everclear song from, like, '98 changed my mind about that! I respect everyone's right to advertise, I hope you will respect my right not to. Money's cool and shit, it's just not the most important thing to me. Come on, didn't you see The Wedding Singer?

On a similar topic, L-Girl, aka "We Move to Canada," has written a great piece about ads in general, too. And I know Allan, aka Joy of Sox, has been itching to talk about this stuff, so keep checking in over there--or just join me in his comments sections for game threads during games.

Also note: the next post will contain extra-wackiness and butt jokes to counter the serious tone of this one! If I feel like it!

Deleted scenes!

1. I know Reb's gonna nail me on this one: The very first time I got emailed from one of these places, the first thing I thought was: I WON'T put up an ad for $ but I will consider working out some deal where they give me free tickets in exchange for a text link on my blog for a short period of time. But I didn't even do that. Wasn't worth it to shill for those people. To me.

2. When this blog started, part of the deal was those Google ads. Search through my very early archives for the whole story, but what happened was, since I was saying "Yankees" so much (this blog was originally called A Red Sox Fan In Yankee Territory), the little ads (which I recieved no $ for) would be for Yankee-related stuff. I ended changing the name of the blog and putting a "*" into "yankees." Like, "y*nkees." (I also wasn't capitalizing "Yankees" at the time, just to be prick.)

Finally, an email to Blogger got the ads completely removed, which I thought was great of them. (Later, these ads were totally removed from all Blogger blogs.) So, you see, my blog name would be different if it wasn't for the evils of advertising!

3. You gonna tell me I "shill" for Google and Blogger just by having this blog? Well, they provide the space, the service, etc. Being associated (not even visibly) with them is the price I pay for having a free blog. It's like your job. Are you shilling for them just by working at their place? And I don't even have to put their company names up anywhere on here. And they pay me no $. I guess that could be someone's argument: "I believe in this ticket agency, they provide me with a chance to buy tickets, so I put their name up." I don't know... not the same.
Kid (RS) Nation offered its members the opportunity to purchase face value tickets to select Sunday matinee games this season. The "catches" were that you had to show up at Fenway's Gate C, show ID that matched up, and proceed directly into the park. Nice guarantee of no scalping, eh? Go Kid Nation!
"the true fans are the ones who are willing to pay the most"

Wow. I guess people busting their butts trying to feed their family of 4 who want to take them all to Fenway for a gane aren't considered true fans. This SH guy is so out of touch.

Thanks for staying ad-free!
Excellent post!! Thanks, Jere. (And thanks for the plug, too.)

This is kicker of all:

"I would argue that the true fans are the ones who are willing to pay the most for the tickets."

That is so galling, so arrogant, so insensitive (not in the touch-feely sense, in the sense of a clod who knows and cares nothing of the world around him/her), it's enough to boycott that enterprise right there.

Not that I would ever use it, because the AUDIO LOGO on their ads, back in my Yankee radio days, used to drive me nnnnnuts.

I listened to games at work on a little battery-powered radio, so no mute button, and the second I heard the ad for S-H starting, I would reach for the volume knob, but the poison was already in my brain, I "heard" it in my mind...

Thanks again for a great post.
I feel like I have someone to look up to now. This is awesome.
Free or not, your blog is priceless to us. And I also was asked, and politely declined, to run ads on my blog.
How 'bout our Sox! Be well.
Glad you finally got to this! And you likely beat me to it by months!!!

The thing that gets me is that every so often, these ad-loving Red Sox bloggers will post a rant about how high ticket prices are and how Joe and Jane Fan can't go to Fenway anymore.

Plus all those ads make their blogs look like absolute shit.

How much $ do the bloggers get anyway? Does anyone know?

P.S. I have received emails from publishers asking me if I would like a copy of X's book for review. I have done this -- I don't think it's in the same category as having commercials on the blog -- but I always say right up front that I got this book for free so the reader is aware of that.
Mom here.
Eliot Spitzer has determined that scalping tickets is a fine capitalist enterprise and is trying to do away with any laws forbidding it. Capitalism means a lot of things to a lot of people. Obviously, there's a big downside: let's keep producing the Ford Pinto because even though a lot of people will be killed when their gas tanks explode, what's a few lives compared with the cost to re-design them? Or as my friend Mike Tidwell describes his Peace Corps experience: helps village in Malawi create fish ponds not only for food, but to create a product to sell and make a profit. Think! We can pave our road! Ponds are successful; the villagers scoop up the first fish harvest but refuse to sell the fish they don't need. They schlepp all the extra fish to the surrounding villages and give the fish away to their neighbors. Who needs a paved road when you can share a bounty?
Tell that to the Ford Company.
Great post.

Was it hard to write or what? I don't know about you, but the non-sports writing is usually the most agonizing.

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. To answer some questions:

The only email I got which named their price said it was 50 bucks/month, I think. And I wonder if they really keep track, what the "contract" is like, etc. Like, if they pay you for a year, then you just delete your blog the next day once you already have their money. But, again, they're so rich, they obviously don't care if they're ripped off by a few bloggers.

Was this hard to write? Nah. I just knew there was so much to cover, so it took me a long time to think it all out. And even still, I could've polished it more, but once I got going, I just didn't stop, and then posted it right away. The only thing that was hard was knowing people who have ads, and who I like as a person and whose site I read, might get pissed.

But in general, I don't have a problem with non-sports stuff--see my off-season archives:) And JS, if it's agonizing for you, we your readers certainly can't tell.
I love my ad-free the little owl guy from you!!!

(that's also why I don't have a link on the blog to my email either...)

Post a Comment

If you're "anonymous," please leave a name, even if it's a fake one, for differentiation purposes.

If you're having trouble commenting, try signing in to whatever account you're using first, then come back here once you're signed in.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

My Photo
Location: Rhode Island, United States