Well, folks, there is one more weekend of regular season baseball to go. And while nobody could fault the injury-ravaged Indians for losing a little momentum after Monday’s pennant clincher, the wash-out in Detroit on Thursday has officially slowed this final stretch run to an agonizing slog. Everyone seems to have collectively had their fill of Joe Colon, Perci Garner, and Austin Adams auditions. The postseason is nearly at hand, and the Plinko chips are hitting their last couple pegs. We all want to talk real match-ups!
Of course, there’s still that small problem of not knowing much of anything yet—about playoff seedings, postseason rosters, rotation alignment, pitcher health, etc. etc. Just about the only thing people can prepare for in any sort of concrete way is ticket buying. . . or budgeting for said ticket purchases. It’s a topic of discussion in Cleveland. But on the north side of Chicago, it’s the holy grail of number crunches.
When you’re talking about two franchises with a combined championship draught of 174 years, it’s probably more than a little presumptuous to start setting aside cash for League Championship tickets, let alone World Series seats. At the same time, it’s the very fact that the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since the Truman and Teddy Roosevelt administrations, respectively, that people feel inclined to get their ticket investment ducks in a row.
This conversation recently came up during my weekly beer league softball game in Chicago, played on a field just a couple miles from Wrigley. A Cubs fan, laying out a theoretical blueprint of his ideal October, explained that—for just about all of Cubbie Nation—a World Series match-up with the Cleveland Indians would be the best-case scenario. Was this in recognition of the Tribe’s depleted rotation or slumping offense? Nope. It’s because an analysis of online ticket vendor sites like Vivid Seats and StubHub, combined with a scanning of airfare and hotel costs, revealed Cleveland to be the most likely candidate for a cost-effective Chicago “takeover” in a Fall Classic.
As of Thursday night, a single standing-room-only ticket for a hypothetical World Series Game 3 at Wrigley Field was going for a minimum of $2,000. If you want an actual seat to sit in, that will cost you at least $3K. And bear in mind, if the Cubs are charging their way through the playoffs, those numbers certainly won’t be going down.
A single standing-room-only ticket for a hypothetical World Series Game 3 at Wrigley Field was going for a minimum of $2,000. Bleacher seats at Progressive Field for Game 1 of the World Series are between $600 and $700.
Now, in fairness, the starting prices for bleachers and standing room at Fenway Park, Camden Yards, Rogers Centre, and the Rangers park (whatever it’s called now) are all pretty close to the Indians’ costs, if not lower. The trouble, in some cases, is quality and availability. Depending on stadium size, number of season ticket holders (the people first in line), overall fan interest, and a few other factors, the number of tickets made available to the outside world will fluctuate. You might be able to get the worst seat at Fenway for $900, but the field box that would cost you $1,500 in Cleveland could cost twice that in Boston.
From a Chicago perspective, Cleveland is also a quick, easy journey on I-80 or Southwest Airlines, and the hotel, parking, and restaurant costs will be friendlier than Toronto, Dallas, and Boston. Only Detroit might be a better investment for the Cubs fan, but I suppose they’re not taking a Tiger World Series run quite as seriously just yet.
Keep in mind, last year’s Mets-Royals World Series set the all-time record with an average ticket cost of more than $1,400, and a Cubs World Series against ANYBODY is expected to slaughter than record. This is the new normal. The question is, if Cubs fans want to see the Indians in the World Series, should the feeling be mutual?
Financially speaking—if you’re someone hoping to score affordable World Series tickets in the weeks ahead—the answer may be a firm “No.” A scenario in which the Indians host, say, the Washington Nationals, or even big market teams like the Mets or Dodgers, would impact prices far less than the arrival of the North Siders and their transcendent billy goat / black cat narrative.
As appealing as it is to imagine a “Something’s Gotta Give” battle between the two longest suffering baseball fan bases in the country, that element has a downside, too. If the Indians finally win their first title since 1948, the Cubs’ latest defeat is likely to steal the national spotlight. Perhaps of greater concern, there is the somewhat serious threat of Cubs fans taking a page from the Blue Jay fan playbook and turning Progressive Field into Wrigley Field East. For a city flying high off its best sports summer in 50 years, it would be mighty crushing to face that sort of national embarrassment on one of sports’ biggest stages.
Now, as Rick Manning might say, I could be putting the horse in front of the cart a bit on all this. The Indians don’t exactly look primed to sweep through the first two rounds like the Cavs. But on a rainy day in late September with the pennant locked up, what’s the harm in daydreaming (and panicking)?