Say It Ain’t So, Joe?

Baseball.
America’s pastime.
Cracker Jacks and hot dogs.
Iced cold sodas and even colder beers.
Three hours of pure Americana– a timeless sport of modern heroes.
The strike of the ball, the swing of the bat, the crowd.
A coalescence of all walks of like coming together to cheer on the home team.

Danger.  Danger.  Warning, Will Robinson.  Warning, Will Robinson.

A coalescence?
Absolutely in 1950.
Definitely in 1980.
Probably in 2000.
Today?

It is almost impossible for an average American family to attend a ball game.  I find this reality to be somewhat of a tragedy, a precursor signaling the onset of the “us and them” attitudes of the rich and average.

We are a family of five.  My husband and I both work full-time.  We pay our mortgage, our car payments, and our taxes.  We find enough money to support the kids’ activities, and in the summer, when the city is bustling, we want to get involved and have our children experience life for all it has to offer.  We want them to feel a kinship with their fellow Clevelanders and become true enthusiasts and supporters of all this city has to offer.

“Let’s go to a ballgame!” 

What a great idea!

Then I look at ticket prices.

Within the last five years, what used to be a twenty dollar ticket  has skyrocketed to $55.00 a seat.  How do I justify spending close to $300.00 just to walk through the door (I’m taking into account Ticketmaster charges and parking)?   Once I factor in concessions, we are probably looking at another $100.00.  What middle class American family can afford to attend multiple games in the summer knowing this is what they will be spending?   Sure, we could go to one, maybe even two, but I LOVE baseball and I want to attend more than that!

I try to rationalize.

It’s only money.  Sounds good until I look at my checking account and sure wish I had an extra four bills to put toward the landscaping project in the backyard.

Tom and I could just go.  Well dang it, that defeats the whole “family” thing I’ve got going on.

We could pawn two off at a time, and only take one at a time.  Yes, we could do that, but the bonds of sisterhood can be formed over a blustering rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” that lands them all beaming on the jumbotron.

So, I am left with a few options: break the bank or skip the game and feel a slight sense of guilt because I cannot afford to give my children what I want them to have.

I guess baseball has finally entered into the arena with all other major league sports.  The problem is that no other sport plays 164 games in regular season.  The other sports can charge more because in a world of supply and demand, there are less seats in relation to the length of the season.  When taking into consideration they Browns only play eight home games, it is much easier to rationalize a more expensive seat.

Maybe the sport of baseball will remember that they need me to be able to bring my girls to five or six games a year so that they will develop into the baseball aficionados that I am, and someday, want to share the love of the sport with their own children.

Our family used to try to support the Indians a few times a year.  However, it seems impossible.  Maybe its just a sign of the times.  Baseball has moved itself into the realm of the other major markets who aren’t looking at “the family” as their customer any longer.

Sometimes, when I want to be able to embrace the spirit of sitting in the ballpark, I feel as if I have been tricked.  I feel as disappointed as that young fan standing outside the courthouse in 1920; the boy who thought of Joe Jackson as a paladin: a regular guy living out a dream one home run at a time.  However, it was a ruse, a curveball of the greatest proportions.  “Say it ain’t so Joe.”  Maybe, the greed of Joe Jackson has always been the driving stimulus of our sport, and I have been tricked into believing they were playing for me, my city, and for the love of the game itself.

 

 

The Post That Got Published Without a Title (Man, I am Tired!)

It has been a crazy couple of weeks.  The kids have had a plethora of activities, we have had a number of social engagements, and with the addition of work and maintaining a home, I have been feeling especially crazed. Just today, after work I had to come home, throw in a load of laundry, pay some bills, and then head up to the dance studio.

Even though I write the nice lady a check for $250.00 a month for two of my daughters to take dance classes, I usually do not step foot into the studio.  I am more of a drop off and pick-up kind of momma.  I have to be.  Between Lizzie and Carson, they are at the studio anywhere from two to four hours a night, four nights a week, and Carson has a two-hour class on Saturday afternoons.  I have too much to do to sit in a dance studio and be a “dance mom.”

Tonight, however, I had to go.  It is watch week.  Three times a year, the studio welcomes parents to sit in the class and watch their children dance.  It is a way for parents to see what they are paying for, to see the progress their children are making, and to justify the checks that clear each month.

This week happened to be the third time this year there has been a watch week.  I have not been able to go to one.  The other two times, I had parent/teacher conferences and PTA obligations.

Really, the only reason I wanted to go was to see Lizzie.  Carson is on the performance team, and I get to see her perform during the holidays and compete throughout the year.  Two weeks ago, she performed in a competition, and her team won High Gold and a Performance Award.

Carson is in the back road, third one from the left.  This picture was taken before they went on stage.  Not one of these girls was nervous!

Carson is in the center of the back row. This picture was taken before they went on stage. Not one of these girls was nervous!

Considering Carson has been dancing for eight years, I know what she can do.  But Lizzie.  Lizzie is another story.  She has not yet started to compete.  I wanted to see how much she had grown since the recital last June.

Besides for the fact that she looked miserable, she rocked it!  I could not believe this little dancer was my little Lizzie.  She knew the choreography, she moved to the beat of the music, and she worked it.  After the class, on the way home, when I asked her why she never smiled.   She said, “I was concentrating.”  Ah yes!  Dancing is serious business, and well worth the money.

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(On a side note.  My husband doesn’t pay attention to the cost of dance.  I am very vague about what we pay in tuition, for costumes, for shoes, for tights, for summer camps, and for conventions.  Every time we are in conversation about dance, I never actually give a straight answer about the cost.

“How much was Carson’s costume for the competition?” he asked afew weeks ago.

“Totally cheap.  The dress was only $20.00!” I said.

“Oh cool.”

Satisfied, he walks away to watch baseball or basketball or hockey on the television.  I sigh in relief.  He doesn’t know to ask about the cost of shoes, tights, and the competition himself.  What cost me $163.00 is only twenty bucks to him.

It’s a win-win, if you ask me: the girls do what they love and Tom is oblivious to the cost.  Of course, if he ever did find out, he might murder me in my sleep.

So ah, yeah.  Umm.  If you don’t hear from me in the next couple of days…)

Day 339: Saving Money this Christmas Season

The Christmas list grows exponentially daily.  The onslaught of TV commercials and Internet ads reminds the girls of all the stuff they do not have but are growing to covet: all of the marketed novelties that promise hours of enjoyment and mountains of memories.  All the marketed crap that gets shoved under the couch before the tree is even down.

Today, Lizzie informed me that she wants Epic Mickey 2 for the Wii.  Of course, she barely plays Epic Mickey, so I think Santa would be foolish to buy the second version when she hasn’t even mastered the first one yet.

“You know, you have asked Santa for a lot of stuff already.”

“I know, Mommy.”

“And I bet Santa has finalized his list.  I think he starts packing the sleigh about now.  He does have a ton of kids to deliver to.”

“Okay, but I am just going to ask,” she said.

“Okay, go ahead.”

Lizzie clasped her hands in a prayer-like fashion and tilted her head back.  She shut her eyes and spoke into the cosmos.  “Please, please, please Santa!  If you haven’t started to pack the sleigh, can I please have Epic Mickey 2?  Please.”  She opened her eyes, unclasped her hands, and smiled at me.  “It never hurts to ask, right Mommy?”

“No Honey, it never hurts to ask.”

Just then she reclasped her hands, tilted her head and shut her eyes again.  “Oh, and I need a new glue stick for school, Santa.  Can I get one of those, too?”  She opened her eyes and smiled even wider.  “There Mommy, Santa can bring me a glue stick and I can save you some money.”  glue-stick_300

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That Lizzie, always looking out for her mom!