Monday, July 11, 2011

Is This Guy Honorable or Stupid?

Derek Jeter reached Yankee immortality as only he could Saturday afternoon (or he's just lucky to have been able to stick around for this long, depending on who you ask)and being that it was a dramatic home run to the left field bleachers, this meant that some lucky soul was faced with the enviable task of choosing between keeping the ball and testing the collector's market or giving it back to Jeter for whatever he asked. As everyone knows, he chose the latter, sparking debate amongst Yankee and non Yankee fans over whether this dude is an honorable soul who personifies the class that Jeter has been known to represent through out his career, or just a plain old idiot?

There seems to be two camps here (judging by my own informal polling of friends and facebook statuses, and media reaction): the one faction says this guy, Christian Lopez, is a virtuous and saintly person, who has put his love for Jeter and the Yankee organization above greed. Numerous articles have been written the past 2 days shouting out the class that Lopez has shown as being the perfect representation of Jeter and Yankee like nobility and an antidote to the greed that has ruined our society. And then there's the other group who thinks this guy is just stupid for not saving that ball for the highest bidder. I'm a part of the second group. Don't get me wrong, I think the ball belonged with Jeter and I like the fact that this kid is such a huge Yankee fan that he didn't even consider another option (to hear the Yankees tell it, at least), but let's be honest with ourselves here: this isn't some kind of a charity organization we're talking about. It's the New York Yankees. The richest franchise in sports and basically the logo for capitalism. The trading of seats that they couldn't sell because they're so ridiculously priced to begin with isn't a fair value for that baseball. Unless they worked out some kind of deal behind closed doors where Lopez could sell off the seats he can't use, this is more of a punishment than anything else. Hank Steinbrenner looks down from his suite and sees some other schmucks sitting where the patron saint of baseball memorabilia should be and there will be a problem.

I'm not really knocking this guy (even if I am basically calling him an idiot) since I think he really doesn't know any better. But, if he knew what was best for him he'd sell that ball to Todd McFarlane or the Hall of Fame or Jeter himself after some negotiating. He's a Verizon employee who is admittedly 100k in debt in college loans. I imagine he wasn't an economics major, since sitting and watching the Yankees play the White Sox in August isn't going to pay those loans back. The idea of not getting your money's worth for a collectible isn't really a noble cause when you take into account that the entity who you're basically donating it to takes every opportunity they can get to milk some cash out of their loyal fans. The second that ball hit Lopez's eager mitts, the Yankees website and Modell's, etc. began shilling whatever they could with a 3000 and Jeter's name on it. If they could package the air that was breathed in the stadium that day, you better believe Steiner collectibles would have "Jeter 3k Carbon Dioxide" sales in a few years. Maybe there were some deals made behind the scenes in which Lopez is now the richest fan in the building, and all his debts have been paid. Maybe the seats are a front to hide the type of absurd dollars that changed hands. I doubt it though. No one's making money off Jeter's 3000th but the Yankees themselves. That's the Yankee way. Most likely, Christian Lopez is still a 23 year old Verizon employee in massive debt, albeit much more famous than he was 3 days ago, and with evening plans for 3 days a week for the rest of the summer. It might be an honorable, classy act like some would have you believe, but it is definitely stupid.

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