You can still catch the game, if you can fork over the cash

By JOHN L. MESSINA

Herald Writer

It won’t be easy.

There are tickets to be had for the American League Championship Series between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees, but you’ll have to work for them and they probably won’t come cheap.

The best way to get tickets — or anything else in life — is to have connections. Friends of Alex Rodriguez and relatives of season-ticket holders don’t need to read any further.

If you’re not Lou Piniella’s cousin, you still have some options, but they’re all tricky in one way or another.

The most obvious option may not occur to people: Try the ticket window at Safeco Field.

Yes, the games are sold out, but the concept of a sellout is more fluid than people realize.

Many tickets are issued to players, Major League Baseball and other MLB teams. Oftentimes, sellouts become unsold-out when the VIPs return their allotment.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, the day of Game 3 of the division series against the White Sox, the M’s released 980 tickets for sale. Game-day tickets could be available for the ALCS too. However …

"Don’t count on it," said Rebecca Hale, director of public information for the M’s. "People should not count on a huge number of tickets. It could happen, but people shouldn’t bank on it."

First of all, this is the ALCS, not the ALDS. Secondly, it’s the Yankees, not the White Sox.

If you’re lucky, you could win tickets on a radio contest. News radio station KIRO (710 AM), which carries the Mariner games, will give away five pairs of tickets for each game.

At the end of each game broadcast during the ALCS, KIRO will announce a "play of the day." The station will later replay the first half of the play call, and the first caller who can finish the call wins the tickets.

If you can’t win any tickets, you can always check The Herald’s classifieds. The early-week editions of local papers had tickets available for anywhere between $50 and $300.

This being the digital age, tickets can also be had at online auction sites. A quick check of eBay, one of the more popular auction sites, found bids climbing as high as $200 a ticket.

Of course, you can always buy from scalpers outside the stadium. That could be less expensive than eBay, but it could cost a ton.

It seems likely that the price will be quite inflated around Safeco on game days.

Ticket scalping works like any other capitalist enterprise, except that it’s illegal. Under the laws of supply and demand, the great demand one would expect for tickets certain to be short in supply will drive up the price.

A Seattle city ordinance makes it illegal to sell a ticket for more than the face value. That’s what scalping is.

Of course, there’s nothing illegal about buying scalped tickets, but be careful.

"If you buy a ticket from anyone other than the Seattle Mariners or a Ticketmaster outlet, no matter how much you pay for it, if it is invalid you will not be admitted to the ballpark," Hale said.

Professional scalpers mostly sell valid tickets. It is their chosen career, so it doesn’t help their long-term prospects to rip off a lot of people.

Amateur scalpers could be pulling a scam, though. You can tell the difference because the pros act sly and usually have a lot of tickets, whereas amateurs act aggressively and usually have only a pair.

Scalpers are everywhere, from the sidewalk outside the will-call window to Occidental Street across from FX McRory’s. They are most common at the northwest corner of the new football stadium.

Some people seem to think that there is a difference between a scalper you see on the street and a "ticket broker." The Mariners don’t see it that way and don’t sell to ticket brokers, Hale said.

One final note: If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket, keep it in a safe place. Unlike the regular season, when team policy allows the M’s to reissue stolen or lost tickets, the playoffs fall under the jurisdiction of Major League Baseball, which prohibits the practice, treating tickets like cash.

"We will not be able to issue new tickets, so people need to be extra careful," Hale said. "Don’t misplace those tickets because it’s not the regular season."

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