Dear Eli . . .


Dear Eli,

Eli, baby, love the wonderful, new "Big Top" you put up in Mob Town! The real brilliance of your move is that you got the taxpayers to erect the tent for you. Sheer genius, Eli. You sure learned your lessons well. The public is much more manageable than elephants, and you have to feed pachyderms now and then.

I see where you really packed 'em in. Just think what you could do with a lion tamer, a bearded lady and a left-handed, power-hitting right fielder. Well, you've got more acrobatic catches going for you in the outfield than a three-ring circus. Love those guys. Best I've seen since the Wallendas. Great show!

I must admit I'm a little jealous of your pricing scheme for next season. Inspired! You've got the fans by their ticket stubs, Eli. Godfrey Daniels! All you need is W. C. Fields to be your carnival barker. I can hear him now. "Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! Step right up and see the glorious Camden Club. Get away from me, kid. You bother me." The little tykes have no business in the circus anyway.

So much for the good news. Eli, I'm afraid you must have missed one of my classic lectures in intermediate "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break." There's one born every minute and you're filling the seats with 45,000 of them a performance. But once you've got them inside the tent doesn't mean the patrons should be able to put their wallets to bed for the night.

Eli, wise up. Your cohorts got Fay, the cop, off the beat without even having to slip him a fin. John Gotti never made a cleaner hit. The coast is clear. Do you really believe the Feds are going to cry "anti-trust?" (Sorry, didn't mean to scare you like that.) There's no one there to police your act, but one of your cronies from Brew Town. Talk about the clown guarding the seltzer bottles.

Stop limiting yourself by thinking of the event you're selling as just one ball game. Start thinking in terms of nine, count 'em nine different innings. Each one of them is a separate entertainment package. You can charge 'em by the frame at a steadily increasing rate as the game progresses. Hell, in one extra-inning contest you can pay off those ugly bank loans.

Wait a minute, maybe we're still thinking too small. We're talking "Power Marketing" here, Eli. Local fans could not care less about the visiting teams. That's when the fans rush to the concession stands and rest rooms. (Oh, remind me to get the price of pay toilets for you by Opening Day.) Anyway don't even let the opposing team come to bat. It's a waste of time. People want to see Cal. Seize the day, Eli. Just let Junior hit and charge the customers ten bucks a swing. You're a true visionary!

There's only one thing I can see going wrong, but it'll never happen in a million years. I'm almost too embarrassed to bring it up, but it'll give you a good laugh. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen you laugh, Eli. Anyway. Maybe, just maybe, the fans would get wise to your extortionist tactics, and maybe boycott your Circus Maximus. You know, maybe they'd band together, organize and not show up next season. See, I thought I'd get a smile out of you, you sly fox.

Fans are like elephants in some respects. They don't know their own strength.

Keep up the good work.

Your mentor,

Phineas T.

P.S. Eli, buddy, do you think you could get me a couple of club-level tickets to the Series? Hey, who loves you, baby!

Mike Gesker writes from Baltimore.

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