About half a block from Marlins Park, a hunchbacked stadium in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, a scalper named Shorty spoke in a stage whisper. “Need a single?” he asked. I did. “Give me 10 bucks,” Shorty said, cupping a crumpled ticket in his hand.
Under normal circumstances, a scalper has the advantage in these encounters. Shorty would have massaged the market for that night’s Mets-Marlins game before I even showed up. But I knew all about the Marlins. I knew they had the worst record in baseball. I knew Marlins Park had become an ocean of empty blue seats. I knew Giancarlo (né Mike) Stanton, the only superstar left after the Marlins’ clearance sales, had strained his right hamstring the night before and was out for weeks. Stanton was being replaced in the lineup by a guy named Marcell Ozuna, who jumped straight from Double-A. Ten bucks?