With Thursday's 11-1 steamrolling of the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees are now six-and-a-half games clear of the Red Sox and well on their way to ending their one-year playoff drought. That should cheer many parties, chief among them the Yankee beancounters who had to make due without the revenues that 13 years of suckling the playoff teat made an expected meal. The question now is if the return to business as usual on the field will lead to business as usual at the box office as well.
History tells us that the Yankees usually raised ticket prices for the bulk of the seats in the Stadium, presumably to pay for the star-spangled bunting that hangs from the decks. History also tells us that it was hard to get a ticket for many regular season Yankees games before they dramatically raised their prices for the first season in the new park. History hasn't held on the latter point, so will it hold on the former?
Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer, declined to speculate on what the Yankees might do when asked by the New York Times, but we're a little more sporting. The guess here is that it will, although it probably will be a milder increase than in years past.
The allure of playoff games is irresistable to most baseball fans, even if it costs them more, and the business side of running a baseball team will win out over the side that got egg on its face when the team was pilloried for their regular season prices. The biggest difference may be in who is bearing the brunt of the inflated cost this time around.
Because of the difficulties unloading the most expensive seats, the Yankees will probably be more cautious about the way they price them to avoid the ghastly sight of empty seats during a Yankee game in October. The upper decks and bleachers, though, bear no such downside. On top of that, there are a lot more people willing to spend what it takes to buy those seats, especially since many of the season ticket packages all come with the option of buying seats for postseason games.
Some might complain, but it's safe to assume that enough of them will be moaning while opening their wallets. And, at the end of the day, it's only the second part that matters.