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Bot me no bots:P - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Bot me no bots:P
A couple of years ago, I attended a Mets game- my first time ever seeing them play (and beating) the Yankees- with a group called the 7 Line Army.  Named for the IRT subway line which brings fans to the ballpark in Queens, it was then an independent band of fans, who bought group tickets, decked everyone out in matching t-shirts in either orange or blue, and took over a section of the outfield stands with great aplomb. You could also order their merch online- all carefully avoiding team or MLB intellectual property images.  I met the group's founder, a cool dude named Darren, at the pregame festivities, and when I told him I couldn't wear the t-shirt that they had mailed me because it was in the smallest size they had, he quickly switched it out for the right size.

Then last year, 7 Line went into formal partnership with the Mets.  They now have a sales stand in the left field corner of the ballpark, and are a bit more flexible in what logos they can include.  This t-shirt, which I wore to Shore Leave  last month-



-is one of last year's models; I liked it because it had Buffalo on it, however subtly.

They've done a number of events this year, quite a few on the road, one as far west as Denver- all sellouts.  Atlanta Braves home fans found the group to be particularly loud and rude (that city maybe being a little sensitive to invading armies from the north;), and their thundersticks were confiscated.  All have sold out long before I had a chance to even think about attending.  But since I was with them that one time, I got an email last week, and a confirming one this morning, letting me know that I would have a shot at sitting in their section for any of the three possible first-round playoff games at Citi Field next month.

This is a tentative proposition in terms of both if's and when's.  As of this sentence being written, we lead our division by 7½  games with 16 to play. That's a comfortable lead this late in the year, but in 2007, the Mets famously blew a 7 game lead with 17 to play, so we're prone to panic. Assuming that mount is surmounted, though, there's still no telling what days or times the Mets will play at home in the first round of the playoffs. They will almost certainly play the L.A. Dodgers, who right now are 1½ games ahead of them for home field advantage. The team with the better record hosts games 1, 2 and 5 (if necessary); the other gets 3 and 4 (also if necessary- first team to win three games in the first round advances).  And even if we knew as of this minute which games would be in Flushing, we won't find out what their days and times are until the season is completely over on October 4th; the league office and tv networks decide that.  So you're buying tickets to something that might not happen and you can't tell when it will happen even if it does.

Still. This team hasn't been in the post-season since 2006, and anticipation is feverish. There was every expectation that when the 7 Line pre-sale began at 2 this afternoon, they would be taken quickly.

How quickly is what we didn't expect.

----

I was at my desk by 1:45 and tried using the code soon thereafter. No dice- site was locked until the stroke of 2, it said. I fiddled with logging in to my ticket account, gave up, opened a new one, and was just in time to enter the code a few seconds before 1400,...

only to wind up in a waiting room.  This, the page said, was their way to be fair. Only enough fans would be allowed "in" as the site could handle. It refreshed every 45 seconds, and multiple windows or premature refresherations would do no good, it said.  Sure enough, at around 2:02, I got the screen of joy- a chance to pick game 1,2 or 3 (which is to say, 1-and-2, or 3-and-4, and maybe 5, carry the 1) and buy up to four tickets at a reasonable-for-playoff price of 80 bucks per tush.

I went with twos and asked for two to either Game 2 or the possibly nonexistent Game 4.  It said no; no tickets together in that quantity in that section.

Fine. Least get ME in. I reduced it to one- and as of 2:03 p.m., could not even get one warm body in there.  Now the only hope was timeouts.  If you've ever done Ticketmonster or similar sites, you know the drill- selecting the seat(s), entering the payment and delivery information, opting out of crap emails, and almost always, doing CAPTCHAs to prove "I am not a robot"- any failing before the clock hits 0:00 cancels the entire order and puts the seats you reserved back into the pool. I never even got as far as any of those timed tests, but by 2:20, I still couldn't get close to a seat for that game, or either of the others (I got back in right back to the same roadblock twice to try the other two).

Yet, I quickly learned, even before I gave up, those $80 seats in that section were already being offered on StubHub (a "secondary," formerly known as "scalper," online site blessed by the Mets and MLB) for upwards of 200 bucks a seat.

Fans on the 7 Line Facebook page were not pleased- and, not long after that, it became clear that neither was Darren.  I don't tweet, but I know how to look them up, and his from this afternoon included this:



and that:



and a couple of these:



This post has gone too tl;dr already and I have an ass day ahead tomorrow, after which I will write a second post about how and why this shit happens, but it does, regularly and knowingly with the event talent (be it sport or music or whatever) knowing full well that it happens and doing little other than window dressing to stop it.  "It" is actually "Them"- a much smaller, meaner Army of bots, which are ready to storm the Internet at the first possible second (and sometimes just enough nanoseconds before that to beat the humans), circumvent the same CAPTCHAs and other steps that only slow down the humans, and feed a never-ending hunger of scalpers who often are already offering their wares for 3, if not 30 or 300, times above face value before they've even booked the tickets. It happened with Paul McCartney's first-ever scheduled Buffalo appearance, and it almost as certainly happened with those 7 Line tickets today. 

The next installment of this rant will talk about how "they" do it, how "they" are always one step ahead of the preventive measures, and how the events themselves really don't give a shit because they get theirs.  I expect it'll be up by 7 tomorrow night: your secret code to access the blog entry is [Spoiler (click to open)]BULL5H1T. Be sure not to share it, since it'll only work once:P

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