Basketball and hockey's playoffs are over, which gives baseball the nation's sports ticket dollars all to itself.
For a while.
Major League Baseball's All-Star Game takes place on July 11 in Miami, but its All-Star break begins just a few days earlier. That gives baseball less than a month to enjoy the relative silence until its self-imposed recess, which is a shame considering the way the season's been shaping up so far.
Through the first 934 games played this season, 209,887 fewer fans attended games than they did through the same number of games in 2016. The average attendance of 29,241 is 218 fewer people per game than the average mark at this time last year. What's more, 17 of the league's 30 teams have seen attendance fall this year, with only 10 teams averaging attendance of 30,000 or more.
That leaves plenty of good seats available all over the league. Even when tickets are scarce and prices are high, those crowds are typically tied to matchups and promotions. However there are some noteworthy exceptions, especially for formerly suffering fan bases. With help from the folks at ticket data and sales site TicketIQ, we took a look at ticket resale prices throughout the league and found the 15 most-expensive games on the remaining schedule.
We're going to warn you right now: the Chicago Cubs appear on this more than a few times. Some fans just want to see what the Cubs look like without a century-old curse attached to them, others are Midwest transplants who are just happy that the Cubs' out-of-town visit won't necessarily involve heaping amounts of misery. Either way, the Cubs are a star attraction this season both at home and on the road.
A few other teams appear on the list multiple times, but not necessarily for the same reason as the Cubs. Sometimes the right mix of places and promotions can put baseball fans in a buying mood:
June 20 at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Average price: $143.23
Get-in price: $35
Everybody wants to go to a game at Wrigley now that the Cubs have a ring. In fairness, they wanted to go to Wrigley before, but a Cubs victory was more of a bonus for baseball tourists than a must. Now, even tickets to a game against the Padres, the National League West's doormat, fetch more than $100 apiece. But what about the promotions, you ask? Well, the Cubbies are giving the first 10,000 fans some World Series parade confetti in a snow globe. That's how popular Cubs tickets are this year: the Cubs can give away literal garbage, and fans will gleefully accept it.
July 1 at Rogers Centre, Toronto
Average price: $144.26
Get-in price: $29
Yes, the Sox are a hated American League East rival, but the Blue Jays could schedule a game against Snow, Nelly Furtado and Our Lady Peace and still pack the place on Canada Day. However, inviting the team with the most self-righteous fan base in the league to come to the former SkyDome and watch Jose Bautista flip his bat at every nine-figure free-agent pitcher the Sox throw at him seems like a fine way to wave the Maple Leaf right in their smarmy faces. Granted, that display would be more effective if the Jays weren't fighting their way out of last place, but that's another story. Enjoy your free red Jays hat. Happy 150th, Canada!
June 19 at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Average price: $145.22
Get-in price: $40
Hey, who doesn't want a reusable tote bag, right? While you're there, you can watch the Cubs go up against a franchise that's had 13 winning seasons in its 49-year existence, made the playoffs just five times and won all of one World Series game in the two it played. The Padres haven't been to a World Series in nearly 20 years and haven't won a World Series game since Ronald Reagan was running for a second term. At least Cubs fans get a bag if their team loses. Padres fans get to go home, play out the string and wait for a football season that isn't coming.
June 17 at the Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Average price: $147.17
Get-in price: $35
Sorry to deflate the ego a bit, Dodgers fans, but this doesn't have anything to do with your team. The Reds are dedicating a statue to the all-time U.S. hits leader and key cog in the Big Red Machine championship teams of the '70s: Pete Rose. Fans get a Pete Rose replica statue and get to explain to their kids, yet again, why Rose isn't in the Hall of Fame and why betting on the outcome of games you're playing isn't necessarily the smartest move for an athlete or coach. Cooperstown may never let Rose in during his lifetime -- and Major League Baseball still considers him banned for life -- but the Reds organization continues to honor him as one of the franchise's greatest treasures.
July 1 at the Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Average price: $147.41
Get-in price: $26
Remember when the Reds used to win championships? Granted, the team has won four total (three since World War II ended) and has made it to six World Series, but it hasn't been back since winning it all in 1990. The team hasn't even had a sniff of the World Series since being swept out of the National League Championship Series in 1995. The Reds aren't a good team this year and seem destined to spend the season staring up at the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. Maybe it'll give them some ideas and allow them to stop wasting poor Joey Votto.
July 4 at the Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
Average price: $150.78
Get-in price: $24
The Rangers are already more than ten games back of the Houston Astros and flirting with .500, but why not spend a lovely Fourth of July evening taking in some fireworks. After all, Rangers fans, you just voted to get rid of a roughly 20-year-old stadium so you can get some A/C and a giant "entertainment complex" nearby. May as well enjoy some of the simpler pleasures while you can: because they're all coming a la carte from this point on.
June 21 at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Average price: $151.22
Get-in price: $29
Aw man, the first 10,000 fans get replicas of Anthony Rizzo's gold and platinum gloves just for getting there early? You'll forever be able to tell your grandkids how those were awards won by the guy who made the last out in the 2016 World Series. Either that, or you're going to have to explain to your grandkids what those awards are, what baseball is and why you weren't watching soccer instead? Time makes fools of us all.
July 1 at Minute Maid Park, Houston
Average price: $157.68
Get-in price: $32
The Astros are on a tear this year and are already running away with their division thanks to a rotation anchored by Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. The Yankees are using a young offense -- including a Triple Crown contender in rookie Aaron Judge -- and some surprising pitching to keep themselves atop the AL East. However, considering the June 30 game comes with a happy hour and fireworks and the July 2 game gives kids a free ball and bat set, it speaks volumes about Astros and Yankees fans that they'd want to dedicate a Saturday and that much money to this matchup.
July 4 at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Average price: $160.94
Get-in price: $50
Yes, they're Cubs manager Joe Maddon's old team and, yes, they're keeping it competitive in the AL East this year, but the Rays have nothing to do with bringing fans the Wrigley for the Fourth of July. The 1:20 p.m. start, and the promise of using your Cubs camo oven mitt at the BBQ before taking in some fireworks makes this game just the start of a great holiday in Chicago.
July 5 at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Average price: $168.48
Get-in price: $37
No, you don't get this day off, too. However, when the team is willing to hand out a dual bobblehead of infielders Javier Baez and Addison Russell, the faithful pay attention.
June 29 at Fenway Park, Boston
Average price: $177.15
Get-in price: $42
Red Sox fans love a potential playoff matchup, and the Twins' re-emergence early this season makes this particularly intriguing? So why isn't the rest of the series this big a sell? Because this Thursday night game features a bobblehead Charlie Brown in a Red Sox uniform.
June 25 at Fenway Park, Boston
Average price: $179.19
Get-in price: $51
The Angels are perfectly mediocre this year and don't have a great road record. So why is this game packed? Because this game was part of a ticket package that gave well-heeled fans tickets to up to three games in this series, an optional hotel stay, a VIP tour of Fenway Park, a private meet-and-greet with a Red Sox player, a leather gift bag filled with Sox souvenirs, on-field batting practice views and a standing-room ticket on the Green Monster. Why for this series? We aren't telling you yet.
June 24 at Fenway Park, Boston
Average price: $186.65
Get-in price: $56
Nope, still not telling.
June 23 at Fenway Park, Boston
Average price: $233.14
Get-in price: $71
O.K., it's for this ticket. They're retiring former first baseman and designated hitter David Ortiz's No. 34 in a pregame ceremony that's going to be loaded with former Sox from the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series teams. Even in a fairly decent year for the Red Sox, this has been a highlight circled date on the calendar for some time. Ortiz meant a lot to that city, and if you want to send him off... well... it's going to cost you.
June 28 at Angels Stadium, Anaheim, Calif.
Average price: $259.33
Get-in price: $28
Well, here we are: the series between the team that actually plays in Los Angeles and one that's been known as the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Granted, the Anaheim squad has actually won a World Series within the last 29 years, but it's always fairly special when these two teams get together when they both have records above .500. You don't need a Mike Trout bobblehead (any of the four the Angels are giving away this season will do) or an Albert Pujols commemorative to drive up the price, but that get-in price suggests it isn't completely unattainable, either.