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Derek Jeter: Giving Him His 3,000th Hit Ball Might Have Been a Mistake

Courtesy of Hardball Talk
Courtesy of Hardball Talk
Josh McCainSenior Writer IJuly 12, 2011

Christian Lopez, the fan who caught the home run ball that happened to be Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, may have made a mistake by handing over the ball to the Yankee captain in exchange for some pretty sweet seats for the rest of the season as well as some signed memorabilia.

Granted, what Mr. Lopez did was a very honorable thing that a lot of people wouldn't have done.  The ball is estimated to be worth somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000, which I honestly think is a low estimate given the number of very wealthy Yankee fans that reside in New York City.

I'd like to think I would do the same as Mr. Lopez, but honestly, until I catch an extremely valuable home run, I can't say for sure what I'd do.

What got me really thinking about this was a rant by Sporting News morning radio host Steve Czaban.  On his afternoon show in Washington D.C., The Sports Reporters, Czaban ranted that we the fans shell out an extreme amount of money to go to the stadium to watch the games, pay a ton to park there and even more money for food and souvenirs.  

And that's just one game. Some of us go to multiple games as well as buy all kinds of stuff with our team's logo on it.

Czaban's point was that Mr. Lopez had a right to the ball he caught and that the ball didn't really belong to Jeter and that Lopez should have probably thought about what to do with ball for at least 24 hours before he allowed the folks at Yankee Stadium to whisk him away to meet Derek Jeter.

For everything the Yankees gave him (which was pretty generous), which was valued to be around $80,000, Lopez still walked away from around $120,000.  The kind of money a guy who sells cell phones could use.

And if you really think about it, does Jeter need that ball more than Lopez could have used the $200,000?  It's been reported that Lopez owes at least $100,000 in school loans.

Think about it: Jeter has the moment of hitting his 3,000th hit, he has his World Series rings, he has his millions of dollars—hell, he has Minka Kelly (not to mention the bevy of beauties he is rumored to have bedded).

And to be completely honest, if Lopez had put the ball up for auction, Jeter has more than enough money to buy if he really wanted it.

Those are the selfish reasons for why Christian Lopez should have sold the ball instead of giving it to Jeter. Now, here's a totally unselfish reason that comes out of left field that many haven't thought of.

Mr. Lopez is might have to pay taxes on the tickets that were given to him by the Yankees.

The New York Times has estimated that the tickets alone are worth anywhere between $40,000 to $70,000 (given how far the Yankees go in the postseason), and if the value were to be around $50,000, the tax burden for Christen Lopez would be $14,000.

Granted, had Lopez sold the ball, he'd have to pay taxes on that income, but at least that way he'd have the money to pay.

Again, I don't want to come off as if I'm blasting the guy for ignoring the money and giving the ball back to the Yankee captain. I'm just saying it might not have been the smartest move possible.

As for the Yankees, if they want to continue to earn brownie points in this situation, they should pay any tax burden that falls onto Lopez for those tickets.

After all, they pay A-Rod more than $200 million. I think they can afford $14,000.

UPDATE


It looks like Miller High Life The Champagne of Beers is once again stepping up to the plate (oh you better believe that pun was intended) and is offering to pay the tax burden for Mr. Lopez so he can continue to live the high life off of his selfless gesture to Derek Jeter.

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