Constable: Trying to buy postseason tickets for the Chicago Cubs? You'll need an app for that.
By Burt Constable
Clinging to first place, the Chicago Cubs play on the road tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks, while the second-place Milwaukee Brewers are at home against the lowly Cincinnati Reds, and the traditional rival St. Louis Cardinals are gasping for life in Atlanta against the Braves.
But no matter how you do the math, there will be no World Series tickets for Chicago Cubs fans this season.
Oh, I still am confident that the Cubs will win the Central Division, sweep through the National League playoffs, beat Boston, Houston or Cleveland in a thrilling World Series and assure us fans of the chance to see the Cubs players, coaches and management ride around Chicago in a victory parade on a sunny November day with unseasonable temperatures in the low 70s.
There just won't be any World Series tickets. Or any postseason tickets for Cubs fans.
"New this year, postseason tickets will be available exclusively as mobile tickets via the free MLB Ballpark app," reads the letter the Cubs sent to season-ticket holders. Instead of showing a ticket at the gate to get inside Wrigley Field, a Cubs fan will have to let the usher scan the appropriate bar code from the app on his or her cellphone.
For a team that didn't get electric lights until 1988, this embrace of the brave new world of technology seems a bit revolutionary.
"I think it's going to be a pain in the butt. Do people have phones, and do people have the smarts to deal with this stuff on their phones?" asks longtime Cubs fan John Pellettiere of Long Grove, who has yet to download the MLB Ballpark app on his cellphone but assures me he'll do whatever the Cubs require.
"This is nothing new to sports," notes Julian Green, the vice president of communications and community affairs for the Cubs. MLB has been using the technology since 2013. Fans using a cellphone app instead of a paper ticket "is used widely around the league," Green adds, including at Wrigley Field.
The system has worked flawlessly during this year's regular season at Wrigley Field, an usher assures me as I use an old-fashioned paper ticket to get into a game last week at Wrigley. Only one member of a party needs to have the tickets on an app for the entire group to enter.
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 95 percent of Americans have cellphones, and 77 percent of them are smartphones. Not only are Cubs fans smart enough to use the free app, they will be safer, Green says.
"The main reason is security," Green says, noting that the app will prevent fraudulent sales, which has been a problem with paper tickets. "I've been with consumers and fans who have been the unlucky recipients of counterfeit tickets. It's happened every year for the last three years."
Fans who don't have access to a mobile device can purchase a generic-looking postseason ticket for $10 by traveling to the Wrigley Field ticket office at least 10 days before a game, or calling a ticket agent to have one shipped to you, Green says. And fans should never post their bar codes on social media.
For those sentimental fans who like to save ticket stubs (I still have my framed and unused ticket to the 1984 World Series that never was at Wrigley Field), the Cubs will make accommodations. After the postseason is finished, the Cubs will mail complimentary commemorative tickets to ticketed fans who request them.
Provided they download the MLB Ballpark app and link it to a season-ticket account, Cubs fans can expect to see their postseason tickets magically appear in the app as early as Tuesday, Sept. 25. Visit www.cubs.com/sthballparkapp for more information, including how to forward tickets to other fans.
Don't worry, it will be fine, Green assures me in the same way I assure my fellow Cubs fans who are nervous about the Cubs even getting to the postseason. Just enjoy the journey, and remember all those seasons when we Cubs fans never had to worry about baseball tickets in October.
As Green says, a Cubs fan worrying about how to download all those postseason tickets "is a good problem to have."