A 13-year-old boy wanders into the kitchen on a late April evening.
"Why the long face, Timmy?" his father asks.
"The stinkin' Pirates are losing again,'' the boy whines.
"That's great!" says his father.
"Great?" the boy asks.
"Sure, son. I thought you knew your baseball. Haven't you ever heard of dynamic ticket pricing?"
The boy makes the same face he made when his father tried to explain the infield fly rule. Nonetheless, Dad presses on.
"It's the latest thing at PNC Park. You know how we always sit in the reserved left field bleachers?"
"Yeah, and what's up with that anyway, Pops? The batter looks like a T-ball player from there.''
"Oh, nonsense, Timmy. The seats are easily accessible, the long bench with a back gives us plenty of room and the beer -- I mean the refreshment stand -- is just a short walk away.''
"Plus they're cheap, like you.''
"Timothy Robertoclemente Smith! I've told you, I'm not cheap. I'm frugal.''
"Mom says you're tighter than her Tupperware containers.''
"Be that as it may, wise guy, it brings us back to dynamic ticket pricing. That means the cost goes up or down based on the demand. Most major league teams do that in some form now, but the Pirates do it only for a couple of thousand seats in the bleacher sections. Plus they have this unique wrinkle: They won't sell any of these seats until 10 days before the game."
"You mean we can't buy any of our usual bleacher seats for the Fourth of July game until, like, after school is out? And we won't even know what they'll cost until then?"
"That's right, son.''
"That's nuts, Dad. And I still don't get how that means a Pirates loss now is a good thing.''
"Think about it, Timbo. Last year, bleacher prices ranged anywhere from $5 on an April Sunday against the Cardinals ..."
"Yeah, the team stunk on ice last April.''
"... to a high of $40 for an August Saturday night that featured Skyblast fireworks and a post-game concert from one of my favorite bands when I was your age, Styx."
"Styx? You mean the river in hell? We're studying that in Greek mythology.''
"Don't you get it, son? If the Pirates get on a roll before July 4, the ticket prices will go through the roof. Last year, the average for the seats was somewhere around $18, but there could easily be $10 swings in either direction. Maybe more.''
"So let me get this straight, Dad. You'd rather watch a bad team cheaply than a good one for a few dollars more? Is our name 'Smith' or 'Nutting'?"
"You don't seem to be listening, Timmy, my boy. We're not talking a few dollars. If the whole family goes, we're talking about 40 or 50 dollars easy. With that kind of savings, I can go back for seconds on the new Brunch Burger: an Angus beef and ground bacon patty topped with a fried egg, maple bacon and cheddar cheese served on a grilled glazed donut.''
"Dad, I'm a teenage boy, and even I wouldn't have two of what you just described. You keep eating like that and you're going to have your own climate soon.''
"Why you little ..."
"Don't go all Homer Simpson on me, Dad, I'm just kidding. But while you were talking, I went online and found that there are other tickets on sale now for that July 4 game for as low as $12. They're not in your favorite section, but they might be closer to that PNC Park cardiac challenge you're dying to eat.''
"Timmy, Timmy, Timmy. Where's your optimism? Have you seen the lineup they've been trotting out there? I see $5 seats in your future.''
"And I see stretchy pants in yours.''brianoneill
Brian O'Neill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1947.