Jeff Pearlman

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A $5.95 soda 500 feet from a tent city

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Last night the son and I headed to Petco Park for the World Baseball Classic.

The tickets cost me $23 a pop on StubHub.

My son’s hotdog was $8, my nachos were, I believe, $7.

We got a soda for $5.95.

Parking was $20.

As we approached the stadium, and the $20 parking lot and the $23 seats and the $8 nachos, we passed a long sidewalk tent city, filled with the homeless of San Diego. It was a jarring sight that, I’m guessing, the city and the stadium and the Padres don’t want people to think much about. It’s hard to justify $23 and $8 and $7 and $5.95 and $20 when the homeless people in the venue’s shadow are eating out of a garbage pail.

On the one hand, it was a teaching opportunity. I spoke with my son about poverty, about the unfairness of America, about why so many people suffer. We discussed the stark divide between a million-dollar stadium and ballplayers paid enormous salaries to hit a round object with a wood stick. But, then, what was there for me to say? We had, indeed, spent a lot of money on tickets, as the poor simultaneously reclined on a sidewalk. At the traffic light, we found ourselves behind a Corvette convertible. We could look left and look right and see money and money and money.

Honestly, I felt sad.

But I really felt helpless.

  • Sanford Sklansky

    Well the players should be paid a lot of money. If it wasn’t for the players there would not be a game or fans in the park. But you are right about the rest. I don’t have any idea how you fix the problem for the homeless. I am sure there are mitigating circumstances for people to be homeless. This story is a few years old. It is amazing how this guy went from a great career to being homeless.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life