With opening day just 11 days off, Phillies fans are no doubt revisiting the indelible memories of the 2009 league championship season.

Ryan Howard's sweet home-run swing. J-Roll's slick fielding. Cliff Lee's lights-out pitching.

And Susan Finkelstein's alleged over-the-top attempts to score some Phils-Yankees World Series tickets.

The last of these is on earthy display in Bucks County Court, where Finkelstein's sex-for-tickets prostitution trial began yesterday and is expected to conclude today.

The 44-year-old superfan from West Philadelphia is accused of trying to copulate her way into a pair of 100-level seats along the third-base line of Citizens Bank Park.

Prosecutors accuse Finkelstein of offering to have sex with a Bensalem undercover officer - and the man's brother, if need be - in return for primo tickets for herself and her apparently free-thinking husband.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Steven Jones said that after Finkelstein made the offer Oct. 26 over drinks at a Bensalem restaurant, four undercover officers moved in to arrest her.

"The facts are simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated," Jones told the seven women and five men on the jury. The question before them, he said, is whether Finkelstein was "holding herself out for sex, expecting to receive compensation for it."

Jones presented just three witnesses, all Bensalem police officers, before resting his case.

Finkelstein's lawyer, William J. Brennan, countered with a blustery indictment of the charge and what he regarded as the nuke-the-mosquito tactics of the Bensalem police in pursuing the case at all, let alone calling a news conference to trumpet their catch.

"I think the press here was like oxygen to a fire," Brennan told the jury. "This was kind of a lark at the time because of the World Series, but there is nothing funny about it now."

He told reporters that he had not yet decided whether to call Finkelstein as a witness when the defense opens this morning.

For Finkelstein to be found guilty of prostitution or attempted prostitution - both third-degree misdemeanors - the jury must find that she was engaging in sexual activity as a business.

Brennan said Finkelstein's only business had been to get herself into the stadium to watch the Fightin's play the Yanks.

"If a prostitute deals only in Phillies World Series tickets, her shelf life is about as long as Halley's Comet," Brennan told the jury.

Noting the Phillies' historical futility in getting to the Fall Classic, he added: "If she is in the business, is she just open in the Octobers when we have a World Series? That business is not going to be open very often."

Finkelstein arrived in court with her husband. Her conservative black pantsuit was a sartorial about-face from her appearance in a leopard suit last month at the Wing Bowl.

Seldom shy about discussing her case, she declined to comment yesterday until after the trial.

Bensalem Police Sgt. Robert Bugsch, head of the department's special investigations unit, testified that he ordinarily focused on undercover drug cases. But the police periodically run prostitution stings, he said, to tone down the trade in the motel-heavy Lower Bucks township.

In late October, Bugsch said, he was trolling the Craigslist Web site for signs of prostitution ads. He said he had entered blonde into the search engine when he encountered the provocative cyber-plea Finkelstein had posted.

"Diehard Phillies fan - gorgeous tall buxom blonde - in desperate need of two World Series tickets," the ad said. "Price negotiable - I'm the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!"

Knowing that tickets were advertised elsewhere for $1,500 or more, Bugsch said, he feared the ad could be a robbery setup.

Noting that the person posting the ad was listed in Philadelphia, Brennan asked why Bugsch didn't just farm it out to the Philadelphia police.

"I can take care of the investigation myself," Bugsch replied, adding that when word of a Bensalem sweep gets out, prostitutes steer clear of the township for a while.

Bugsch replied to Finkelstein's ad, saying he had three tickets, but "need to see your photo first."

"No problem, Robert. Here's a few for ya!" Finkelstein messaged back. Attached were three color shots of her bare breasts.

The photos were distributed to jurors, who rapidly passed them along after a glance or two.

"My client certainly exhibited bad taste in sending those photos," Brennan had told them. "She's not on trial for bad taste."

Finkelstein then e-mailed Bugsch that her "currency is, well, let's just say, 'unconventional,' " and suggested they negotiate over drinks.

"Yes, but why drinks?" Bugsch messaged back. "I like some powder, if you got it," he wrote, referring to drugs.

Finkelstein said she had none. Bugsch set up a meeting at Manny Brown's, a restaurant at the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, giving Finkelstein a description that matched one of his subordinates, Officer Michael Brady.

Brady testified that he had positioned himself at the bar in a Penn State sweatshirt when Finkelstein arrived shortly after 7:30 p.m. in a denim skirt and sat beside him.

After some small talk, the conversation quickly took a ribald turn, Brady said.

Calling herself a "prostitute" and a "whore," Brady said, Finkelstein "said she was interested in having sex for the tickets."

Noting Brady's youthful appearance, Finkelstein "mentioned that she was a cougar, and I could be her cub," the officer said. She offered to have sex with his brother, too, in return for the brother's ticket, Brady said.

Brady stepped away, saying he would call his brother. Instead, he phoned Bugsch and two other undercover officers sitting nearby, who arrested Finkelstein.

"You've never had a prostitution case where the alleged prostitute asked for a second ticket for her husband, have you?" Brennan asked.

"No, I haven't," Brady said.

As for building a prostitution business around postseason tickets, Brennan asked Brady whether the team had been in the World Series very often.

"No, unfortunately," Brady said.

At that point, Judge Albert J. Cepparulo interjected.

"I'll take judicial notice of that," he said, "being a long-suffering Phillies fan."

Contact staff writer Larry King
at 215-345-0446 or lking@phillynews.com.