Rising prices

Seventeen new ballparks have sprouted up since Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992. The Yankees and Mets will add to that number next year. The Twins' playpen is under construction. The Marlins, Rays and Athletics are working hard to join the parade.

By now, we all know the drill. We "ooh" and "ahh" over the wide concourses and modern conveniences of the new place. We reminisce about our pleasant memories of the old. And life goes on.

What sometimes gets lost in the gee-whiz factor here is that the price of tickets and concessions in these modern facilities, almost all supported at least in part by taxpayer dollars, invariably rises sharply.

The New York Post recently reported on a man who has been a Mets season-ticketholder since 1964, the year the team moved out of the Polo Grounds and into Shea Stadium.

As recently as 1993, he said, his annual tab was $5,837. Five years later, it was $11,836. By last season it was $23,702. This year it's around $33,000.

And when he got a letter informing him that comparable seats at Citi Field next year would set him back about $60,000, he decided he'd had enough and informed the club that he won't be re-upping next year.

Where's the hate?

Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun was a little disappointed to find out at the All-Star Game that he actually enjoyed being around the players from the rival Cubs. "It turns out that (they're all) nice guys," he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "That's unfortunate. I thought it would be easy to dislike them."

Combined wire services

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Top 10


TEAM ... Last week

1. Chicago Cubs ... 1

Wrigley Field, built 1914

2. Boston Red Sox ... 3

Fenway Park, built 1912

3. Tampa Bay Rays ... 2

Tropicana Field, built 1990

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... 5

Angel Stadium of Anaheim, built 1966

5. Chicago White Sox ... 4

U.S. Cellular Field, built 1991

6. Philadelphia Phillies ... 6

Citizens Bank Park, built 2004

7. St. Louis Cardinals ... 7

Busch Stadium, built 2006

8. Minnesota Twins ... 8

Humphrey Metrodome, built 1982

9. New York Yankees ... 9

Yankee Stadium, built 1923

10. New York Mets ... 10

Shea Stadium, built 1964

Aaron Morton

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Fantasy tips

Just like in the majors, the trading deadline in many fantasy leagues is fast approaching.

LESSON NO. 1: The sooner a deal is made, the better.

The Brewers and Cubs decided they were playing for this season and needed front-line starters for the stretch run. So they made sure to get ones who could contribute for almost three full months.

LESSON NO. 2: Don't count on using the deadline to your advantage.

Procrastination is one of the most common human traits. We wait until the last minute for so many things.

LESSON NO. 3: If you aren't looking at the deal from the other team's perspective, you're not likely to get a deal done.

LESSON NO. 4: Know when to say no.

In almost every fantasy league there are at least one or two Billy Beanes who enjoy trading and who are comfortable talking to anyone. However, there's usually also an owner everyone tries to avoid in trade talks. It's the person who has a hard time making a final decision, one who will waffle when a deal is proposed, preferring to analyze the trade from a thousand different angles.

LESSON NO. 5: Fantasy trades rarely should be overturned.

One of the most frequent questions I get in the fantasy mailbag each week has to do with trades that are deemed "unfair."

First of all, even though a team adds someone like CC Sabathia or Rich Harden for a handful of prospects or draft picks, that team isn't guaranteed victory.

Secondly, just because a trade seems lopsided doesn't mean it will turn out that way.

USA Today