Friday, February 23, 2007

UCPD Is Keeping the Campus Safe From Capitalism

Last night was the Bruins penultimate home game and I wanted to be there. Unfortunately, I didn't have a ticket. Tickets on Ebay were nosebleeds (and I've become an unabashed ticket snob) and the offerings from brokers were outrageous considering the opponent was 7th place Cal. So I went with plan C, which was to head down to campus and buy tickets from a scalper. Unfortunately, when I arrived at Pauley Pavilion, campus police were actually arresting the ticket scalpers. That was a first. I thought we had a general understanding as a society that even if scalping was technically illegal, it was tolerated as long as there were no altercations. Is brokering a deal for tickets on campus really any different than what StubHub or RazorGator does? Actually, at least the scalpers let you negotiate how much you're willing to be ripped off. With StubHub, they don't even offer you a little bit of vaseline before they violate you. Fun times.

The scalpers in handcuffs put a hitch in my plans. I ended up listening to the beginning of the game on the radio broadcast outside Pauley until finally finding a late arriving Bruin who had an extra ticket. Even better, once inside, I was able to meet up with a few friends who had great seats and an opening near them. So my story does have a happy ending. I love a happy ending.

As for some actual basketball notes:

-I ended up getting in my seats with about 10 minutes left in the 1st half, which is probably when all UCLA fans should arrive to the games, since the Bruins have decided that they're going to use the first 10 minutes of every game to spot the opposition a 10 point lead. By and large, they've been able to get away with it during the regular season. But it's a dangerous way to live, and could be costly in the tournament. (I feel like I've written this before. If so, I apologize, but it's just as much of a problem now as it was a few weeks ago.)

-For most of the conference season, while the Bruins' defense was sensational, their offense frequently seemed to lose their direction. Oftentimes, their offensive set would be to run Arron Afflalo off multiple picks to try to get him a shot; and if that didn't work, then Darren Collison would call for a high pick and launch a three point shot. Since Afflalo and Collison are both good shooters, it was effective enough to win, but it wasn't elite basketball. However in the last two games against Arizona and Cal, all five players on the floor for UCLA have been viable, integral parts of the offense. When Mata (or Aboya), Shipp, and Mbah a Moute are all legitimate threats on offense, then UCLA itself is a legitimate threat to go to the Final Four.

-It's a miracle, but Lorenzo Mata has fixed his free throw problems. His release, rhythm, comfort level, rotation are all different now then they were for the better part of this season. I noticed it on tv in the Arizona game, but it was even more evident in person. Something triggered, and he's now much more relaxed and confident at the line. He's now 10 for his last 11 from the charity stripe. You can forget the Lorenzo Mata that shot 30% from the line. That Mata is gone. This new guy is a 75% shooter.

-Russell Westbrook was the energizer in the first half, but he was benched in garbage time after a few poor decisions. Despite a 10 point win, Westbrook had his head down at the final buzzer. Hopefully Coach Howland will focus on his early pivotal contributions and help him realize he's a key part of the team's success.

-The UCLA dance team should get a 10% commission from 4 Play Gentleman's club on the night of home games. After watching those girls dance around for two hours, a side trip down to the club is a tempting way to "let traffic clear" before heading home.

-In other basketball news, the Washington Huskies are obviously only comfortable playing at home. Fortunately for them, they've just added another home game to their schedule as their loss to Oregon State last night secures them a spot in the N.I.T.

-Oregon shot better from 3 pt land (11-25) than 2 pt distance (11-30) in a mild upset win over Washington State. The loss moves Washington State two games out of first place, removing some of the luster from the March 1 matchup between the Bruins and Cougars. However, UCLA still has to play Stanford, so there's a chance that game at Pullman could still have 1st place implications.

-By the way, can we move the college 3 pt line out to the international distance now? When power forwards are casually launching threes, it's time for a change.

-In his piece on Dennis Johnson, Bill Simmons calls him, "Indisputably...the greatest defensive guard of his era." Now I can appreciate that this was essentially a eulogy, and so some hyperbole is acceptable. But I hope for the sake of his argument, he considers Michael Cooper to be a forward. Otherwise, there is plenty to dispute.

-Honestly, I'm not picking on Simmons or trying to be a jerk after the death of DJ, I just don't like when people use words like "indisputably" in the context of a sports opinion. One of the key elements of being a sports fan is the stupid barroom discussions and debates regarding players and teams. "Dispute" is one of the lifebloods of sports sites like Deadspin, Page 2, and even this one.

-Saturday, the UCLA Bruins have a revenge game against the Stanford Cardinal. It is indisputably the best home game remaining on their schedule. Anyone have an extra ticket?

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At Fri Feb 23, 01:12:00 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ARE sleep deprived. A scalper offers you little or no choice of tix, you can't use a credit card, no toll free phone # for your questions,and they don't offer you a money back guarantee if their tix are fake. StubHub (among others) offer all those things. The laws against scalping around the arena are to protect you against fraud, not limit the price of the tix. In CA, as in all but a very few states, there are no legal restrictions on resale pricing, which is set by supply and demand. Of course, that's how most of this capitalist country works.

At Fri Feb 23, 01:32:00 PM PST , Blogger insomniac said...

Thank you for your comment. I do agree with the fraud protection aspect. Tho I've never personally been burned by counterfeit tickets from a scalper, I acknowledge that it happens. I just know that I've always paid a scalper about 1/2 to 1/3 of whatever a comparable ticket was going for on StubHub.

I wonder if street scalping were elminated, would it generate enough of an increase in supply in the online secondary market to lower the average sale price?

At Fri Feb 23, 06:35:00 PM PST , Blogger NFL Adam said...

First off, StubHub is a total rip off. They charge you $$$ just to email you tickets. Lame. Ticket Exchange is free and I purchase all of my Angels tickets that way.

Dennis Johnson was no Michael Cooper. This Boston bellyaching really gets to me.


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