Major League Baseball is again offering call options for playoff tickets.
Recall last year you could plunk down $10 to $20 and buy the right to purchase playoff tickets at face value. I wrote about it here.
I guess response was strong, because now baseball is auctioning off the purchase rights. (Sorry, the auction ended June 27.) I assume baseball figures the average call option will go for more than $10 to $20.
I also note that all teams are participating this year. Last year, you couldn’t buy options for Yankees playoff tickets, presumably because the Yanks were a good bet to make division, LCS and World Series.
At the charming, nostalgic baseball site Pine Tar and Brickbats, Dan Berman doesn’t like the idea:
Major League Baseball evidently subscribes to the theory that there’s a sucker born every minute. And it’s hard to dispute that assumption based on the MLB postseason reservations auction.
Dan notes that people who buy options for losing teams end up with nothing and likens them to the handling fees that teams use to jack up ticket prices.
I, too, loathe handling fees, ever since I paid one picking up at will call.
But for the options scheme, I’m sanguine. Baseball could simply auction off playoff tickets and generate a lot more revenue than this system is likely to. But I think the sport is trying to capture some of the considerable revenue lost to scalpers while still giving “true” (read: impoverished) fans a chance to go to the big game.
It’s also a form of ‘legal’ gambling, sort of. If you think, say, the Brewers are all that, you can buy an option. When the Brewers win just like you thought they would, you can buy the ticket, then re-sell it at a scalper’s profit.
There also appears to be a secondary market, where you can buy our sell the options, which sounds kind of fun, as the value of an option would rise or fall with a team’s record and its prospects as the season wound down. It’ll act like a parallel set of standings, reflecting expected future performance as well as past.
Certainly the options would have come in handy for Mets fans a couple of years ago. They could have sold before their teams’ late-season collapses and taken the sting out of a couple painful years.