Yankees swindle a 23 year old kid who loves baseball …..

July 11, 2011 |

Indeed, we are upon that time of summer when Baltimore’s baseball fans must start looking elsewhere for compelling storylines and boxscores.  I suppose spinning the recent Orioles vs. Red Sox series into a “beanball war” might drum a little interest, but do any of us really think the birds were a formidable opponent?

Of course not …..

But, as I’ve suggested, plenty of intriguing stories did result from a mid-July weekend of baseball.

Perhaps, the most notable was the goodwill gesture emerging from Yankee Stadium.  After weeks of awaiting the historical significance of Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit, it finally happened on Saturday night.

And, as if the moment was written from fictional lore, #3000 came in the form of a homerun. 

Oh yeah, it gets even better – schmoozier and more heartwarming …..

The fan who caught the ball, Christian Lopez, quickly came to grips with the most fitting destination for the historical baseball …..

Cooperstown?  Nope.

The Lopez family keepsake collection?  Nope.

A safety deposit box?  Once again, no.

Mr. Lopez decided the baseball was destined to be personal property of Derek Jeter, because “he worked so hard for it …. The ball should be his.”

I don’t deny, nor dispute Christian Lopez’s love for the game of baseball and the purity that accompanies being a fan of the sport.  But, I do question if he made the right decision and if the process in rendering such a quick conclusion is prudent for all parties involved.

That baseball is worth a LOT of money.  Conservative estimates by notable collectable experts valued it at a minimum of $250,000 or a cool quarter of a million bucks …..

That’s serious cash, huh?

Yet, in the spontaneous passion of the moment, the 23 year old man who coincidentally donned the same hat worn by Jeter, decided to hand the keepsake over to the Yankees shortstop.

.

.

In exchange, he received tickets for the remainder of the season, along with articles of memorabilia.

Was it a fair deal?  That’s up to Christian Lopez …..

But, I’ll assert one very important consideration – it’s a deal and agreement that should’ve been discussed the following day.

Too many emotional and perhaps, personally inhibiting factors exist in the immediate moments following such a historical incident.

The fan is caught up in the massive celebration that accompanies the moment.  Such recipients are quickly sequestered from the ensuing bombardment of fellow fanatics.  That’s a good decision, because somebody will do everything in their power to steal that baseball.

I’m absolutely in support of ushering guys in the shoes of Christian Lopez away from the masses of gawkers, hawkers and stalkers …..

But, a more intriguing reason for getting the guy away from others is team officials want to “negotiate” or lean on them for a quick exchange of the ball for some trinkets and fodder.  Why not toss in a few bottles of whiskey and some beads, too?

After all, that’s the legitimacy and hoodwinking credibility that goes into such a transaction.

I’m not privy to Mr. Lopez’s financial status, although, he said he has plenty of time to make the money and he doesn’t really need it …..

Really?

How many 23 year olds (or thereabouts) do we know who couldn’t tangibly benefit from a $250,000 windfall?

Marston Hefner?  Taylor Swift?  Sam Bradford?

I look at a select group of young men who I would put into a situation just as Christian Lopez found himself on Saturday evening.  I’ll consider WNST’s Ryan Chell, Luke Jones and Glenn Clark …..

These guys love sports.  Heck, they eat, sleep and breath sports.  And, I can picture all three of them being caught up in a moment of significance at a sporting event.  Furthermore, I can reasonably picture each of them coughing up a valuable memento in the HEAT OF THE MOMENT.

They love Baltimore and the Orioles, for better or worse.

But, each of them could greatly benefit from $250, 000 …..

Better yet, $250,000 could and would impact their lives to a much greater extent than any gesture of gratitude from the Orioles or a legendary player.

Name it, buying a first house, paying off student loans or simply getting ahead in this dismal economy, each of these young men would be far better off by selling such a keepsake.  But, in the moments following their nabbing of history, I can envision them getting swindled – by a tugging of the heartstrings.

What are the chances Christian Lopez had a couple beers on Saturday evening – prior to the big moment?  I would reckon such odds are pretty good.  If so, a whole new can of worms opens up, if you get my drift …..

Let’s just call it like it is …..

The moment was a true piece of history.  That’s why Major League Baseball manufactured “special baseballs” when Jeter stood in the box for his 3000th hit.  That’s why a World Series atmosphere existed at Yankee Stadium on a muggy Saturday, in July.

The Yankees brass, like any other organization, knew the best chances of getting that baseball from the grip of Christian Lopez was RIGHT THEN and RIGHT THERE.  So, they took advantage of the circumstances.

In reality, and in legitimate surroundings, a “cool off” period should exist …..

The team should make contact with the fan and go thru the measurable steps to ensure the ball is secured.  They should even offer to put it in a safe deposit box for 24 or 48 hours.

If the fan really feels the player should have the ball, than so be it.  Will a “cool off” period change such heart driven feelings?  I wouldn’t think so.

What’s wrong with Yankees officials urging Lopez to talk with his parents?  Yeah, I know he’s an adult, but how many 23 year olds still seek the wisdom of a mother or father under such weighty situations?

Call it like it is, Saturday night’s festivities might appear to be one of those legendary fan and player symbolic exchanges.  But, the truth is the Yankees took every advantage of a 23 year old kid who loves baseball.

And, that’s wrong.

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