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All-Star Fan Fest

Well... I have to say I'm disappointed.

First of all, you didn't have much of a choice in these tickets -- you had to buy them as part of the All-Star strip of tickets. Sure, I probably would have gone anyway, but the idea of being forced to pay an extra $16 (not even including the $15 "service charge") kind of rubs me the wrong way.

And, you were also forced to choose a date and time, maybe weeks or months before you knew when you wanted to go. As it turned out I couldn't make the original time I had purchased. The White Sox wouldn't exchange the tickets, so I had to go to a ticket broker to swap them for the time I really wanted. On getting there, they just scanned the tickets and didn't pay too much attention to the time of day (we were a half hour early), so I guess it didn't really matter -- I suppose they just wanted to avoid large crowds at popular times.

Anyway, of course this is all about money, and the MLB-sponsored booths had lots of merchandise, much of which is way overpriced. I mean, why would you want to pay $20 for an official All-Star ball when you could walk over to an independent vendor's booth and get the same item including a ball cube for $16? And why are they selling the "Limited Ballpark Edition" of the All-Star program, outside of the ballpark?

Also, the lines for the popular stuff like autographs, and the video batting cages, were up to 90 minutes, which means they didn't have enough space for the people who wanted to do these things. We didn't feel like hanging around for that long, and my son Mark understood. This is the luckiest kid in the world -- he wins all kinds of stuff. When we entered, they gave us all two "Prize Cards", sponsored by MasterCard, where you had to stand in a short (5 minutes) line to enter it into a machine, to find out if you won something. You could do this three times before you made an out. And Mark won on both of his cards. OK, the prize was an All-Star t-shirt, but that's OK for free, right?

The Hall of Fame exhibits were OK; mostly jerseys and gloves and bats from several different eras, and I take a little bit of unbrage at the "Hometown Heroes" exhibit -- yes, I know the White Sox are hosting the game, but they could have included a few things about the Cubs too.

The MLB shop merchandise, particularly the caps and shirts, were way overpriced; I figure in six weeks I can get the same stuff at half-price, so why buy it now? I just bought a few programs, some pencils and the "MLB Showdown" card game for Mark, which his friend Mitchell brought over today (he went yesterday) and the kids enjoyed it.

The FanFest is just OK; I wouldn't make it an all-day affair unless you like waiting in lines, and paying ballpark prices for mediocre food.

But I got to spend an afternoon with my son and my dad, and that, my friends, was worth it.