Guerrilla Games

Hustling, jeering, cheering, and hand-to-hand combat at Pro Player

"You shouldn't complain -- it won't help," I told him before rethinking my position. "Hell, maybe it will help -- keep complaining."

It helped. Gonzalez soon hit a rifle shot over the left-field wall to end what will be remembered as the greatest game of this World Series. Everyone went crazy. I hugged a stranger and lifted my cheering boy over my head. We left the stadium whooping and hollering like a few Jersey guys who just got handed free World Series tickets.

"We're going to do it in Yankee Stadium!" I kept yelling as we ran down the long spiraling concourse.The sheer greatness of the two previous nights didn't come without a price. I had a whopping baseball hangover (all that stadium beer had nothing to do with it, I assure you). I was totally strung out, throat raw from cheering, hands numb from clapping, nerves frayed, senses dulled.

But I dragged myself out to Pro Player anyway. I had to finish what I started.

And the market was sheer hell, much worse than for game four. I scrambled a little and got a couple of decent hits on club seats -- $200 each, or $55 over face value. But I wanted better.

Then, about ten minutes before the first pitch, I saw a guy with a bandage around his knee haggling with some people a couple of hundred yards from the stadium, near the east parking lot.

"What do you got?" I asked.

"Section 142, 12 rows up," he said. "I hurt my leg and can't go to the game."

Great, great seats at first base. How much?

"$250."

I haggled him down to $190 and took the ticket -- a real coup. These seats were going for $500 or more. I sauntered up to the gate, feeling that old excitement coming back. When I walked through the turnstile, the woman scanning the ticket said, "Uh-oh, this says 'Stop.'"

She showed me her handheld scanner. In red lights was that dreadful horrible word. "You have to go back," she told me. "There's something wrong with your ticket. Go to gate G."

I felt a burning in my chest like lava that dripped down into my stomach. I had a primordial impulse to make a break for the stands. But that might have led to a takedown by police, an even worse prospect.

No, nothing could be worse than this. I looked at the ticket. It said "Wednesday." This, of course, was "Thursday." I'd stupidly broken the first rule of black-market ticket-buying: Check the date.

It's moments like these that test a man. I could have easily collapsed to the ground and blubbered like a baby. I pictured the guy with the bandaged knee sprinting to his car. Anger took hold. I started running, hoping to catch him.

No use. Nobody is stupid enough to stick around after that. Hell, $190 is a good day's work for any scumbag who's not already elected to political office. That limping SOB was gone forever.

And then... there he was... not that far from where he'd sold me the ticket. I stormed up to him. "This ticket is no good! Give my fucking money back."

It might be good to mention here that I was about ten years younger than this middle-aged hack. I was also four inches taller, probably 30 pounds heavier, and, though I'm no specimen, in much better shape. I had a distinct physical edge, and I was seriously considering using it.

"What?" he said, as if in shock. "The guy at the black Hummer limo gave me these. He was hanging out drinking beer, and he pulled the ticket out of a fresh envelope. I can't believe this. C'mon, man, let's go get the money. I gave him face value of the ticket after I sold it to you. All I made was $45."

Black Hummer limo? Somebody had fronted this jackass a ticket? It wasn't believable, but I tell you, I gave him some benefit of the doubt just because he was there. I mean, who would risk life and limb by hanging around? It was too weird.

"The guy's not going to be there," I said as I walked beside him. "You ripped me off, and you're going to give me my money back."

"I got ripped off too!" he said. "I can't give you that kind of money,"

Two options sprung to mind: the aforementioned physical remedy -- which might land me a battery charge -- or going straight to the cops.

"I'll go down for this one, motherfucker," I told him. "We're going to the police. I'm having your ass arrested."

I edged close to him and punched my hand; he flinched like he thought I was going to hit him. Suddenly, it felt like a science experiment.

"I'm licensed. I'm a professional broker from St. Louis," he complained. "I make 50 grand a year -- my business has $120,000 overhead."

"Then give me my money. Selling anything here is illegal... you're going to jail."

It was a bluff. I knew I wasn't going to the cops. Even though I didn't commit a crime, I was participating in criminal activity. It would be a crapshoot. They might help me get my money back -- or they might boot me off the property $190 lighter.

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