Best Major League Bargain - 2000
Readers' Choice: The IHOP 4 for $34
Marlins fans are the most spoiled in baseball. A few years ago, Big Wayne built them a World Series champion on a huge mountain of cash and then yanked it away. Fans whined and cried. They wanted their multimillion-dollar stars back. Get real. A greedy garbage tycoon giveth and a greedy garbage tycoon taketh away. But a funny thing happened while the crybabies complained: A talented team was born. The rebirth of the Marlins began with a bunch of losses, miserable losses. But gradually, as time went on, certain young, hungry players began emerging as the real deal. Millar. Gonzalez. Wilson. Dempster. Floyd. Kotsay. And even as they were losing over and over again, true baseball aficionados were beginning to realize that this motley team had a chance to be (dare they even say it?) good. They have a nasty bullpen, a great infield, and a bunch of guys who can hit in the clutch. And now all the spoiled, bandwagoning pseudofans can take advantage of the best bargain in baseball: At every single home game, you can get four upper-level tickets, four dogs, four sodas, four bags of peanuts, and a game program for a mere $34. That's a ticket and a good ol' baseball meal for $8.50 apiece. Break it down and this is worth $68 (at the inflated concession prices at such venues). They also throw in a discount card for food at IHOP, which sponsors the deal. Sure, it's the upper level, but you're still in the park, soaking up the atmosphere, root-root-rooting for the home team, and not caring if you ever get back. The same basic offer, if you're unlucky enough to be a Braves fan, runs $49, or some 40 percent higher. The 4 for $34 will be a great bargain until John Henry breaks up this new team -- and if he does that, then we'll all really have something to complain about.