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5 Spring Spending Splurges To Avoid

Baseball tickets
There are two constants in spring baseball: The games won't mean much, but they'll cost plenty.

Argue all you'd like that a team that finished one game out of the playoffs would have loved an extra win in April. Any playoff team worth its salt wins those must-win games in September. The first month or so is basically a first look. A way to set the lineup, tax the old guys and test the new ones. The Boston Red Sox, for example, dropped their new $140 million outfielder Carl Crawford to seventh in the batting order three games after his bat forgot what a baseball looked like during the Sox's opening series. With a .296 career batting average, it seems unlikely he'll still be in that doghouse in September.

Meanwhile, die-hard fans go into a deeper freeze than a forgotten box of fish sticks during the first months of the year just to see how it all shakes out -- with temperatures in the Northeast and Great Lakes hovering in the upper 30s and mid-40s well into April. They'll be paying more for the privilege this year, as major league ticket prices rose 1.2% to an average of $26.91 after a 1.5% hike last year, according to Team Marketing Report. The average price of taking a family of four to the game -- including four tickets, two small beers, four small sodas, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two adult-sized caps -- also rose 2% from last year, to $197.35.

We realize that, for the fans of league cellar dwellers, early season games may be the only chance to see their team with a winning record, but if you're repeatedly shelling out more year after year, you may as well hold out for better weather.

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