Growing up, the dream of many a young boy is to catch a significant souvenir baseball at a game. If you're a young lad who grew up watching the New York Yankees this past decade and a half, I would imagine that catching a ball, any ball, off of Derek Jeter's bat fits that category.
(Insert bawdy joke here about balls, bats and every young female Yankee fan's Jeter dream.)
On Saturday, a 23-year-old Yankee fan got to live out his dream, catching a Jeter home run that doubled as his 3,000th hit.
A customer service representative with Verizon by day, with over $100,000 in student loans on the "liabilities" side of his personal ledger, it appeared (to any right-thinking capitalist) that Christian Lopez had a lottery ticket fall into his sweaty hands. Estimated to be worth anywhere from $100,000 (reasonable) to $1,000,000 (outlandish) depending on what publications you read, the first "3,000th hit" ball in Yankee history had very little percentage chance of landing amongst the unwashed masses. (Jeter hadn't hit a home run in several weeks.)
Until you realize that it's Jeter we're talking about. Naturally, he hit a bomb into the left-field stands.
If Craig Biggio getting thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double for his 3,000th was an appropriate metaphor for something (grit, hustle, maybe coming up a tad short at times), then a home run was appropriately Jeter (clutch, dramatic and seemingly having plowed through every FHM and Maxim model since 1999).
So in some sense, it wasn't a total shock for a lifetime Yankee fanboy to succumb to the shock of meeting the ultimate Yankee of the past 20 years, eschew eBay, refuse cash and decide to just hand the ball over to Jeter in the name of "everything he's done for us."
Look, it's not my place to explain to Lopez the whole dynamic of employers and employees and whom exactly Jeter was "doing things for." (Hint: Their last name rhymes with "Shleinbrenner.") That job actually belongs to his father, who happened to be sitting next to him at the game and rightly thought his son should have "cashed" out.
The younger Lopez disagreed:
"Money would be cool," he said, "but I'm 23 years old, I have plenty of time to make money."
The Yankees stepped up and gave Lopez four tickets in a suite for the rest of the season, and Jeter gave him three signed bats, three signed baseballs and three signed jerseys. (If you have Jeter giving out possessions over cash, how do you not ask for 15 minutes of naked Webcam time with Minka Kelly? Just saying.)
There's now only one problem, and it's kind of a big one -- the IRS wants their piece of Lopez's haul, an estimated tax bill of anywhere from $5,000 to $13,000. And unlike Lopez, who would have been fine if Derek Jeter showed his appreciation by giving him a handful of magic beans, the IRS deals in cash only. He can't just send them two of the jerseys and tickets to the next Red Sox series, and explain everything Jeter had "done for him."
So now, at the very least, Lopez needs to open a Stubhub account and pawn off $13,000 worth of tickets, although Lopez seems to be hopeful of some sort of divine tax intervention:
"Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes," Lopez told the [New York] Daily News. "I'm not going to return the seats. I have a lot of family and friends who'll help me out if need be. The IRS has a job to do, so I'm not going to hold it against them, but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this."
Sure thing, Christian. The IRS is famous for looking the other way and saying, "Eh, you know what? Just kidding on that $13,000...it's cool."
If I were Lopez, I'd find a memorabilia expert, like the ones they use on Pawn Stars, and find out how much the jerseys, balls and bats can fetch and get ready to scratch out a check to Uncle Sam.
Either that or see if his new BFF Derek can help out with the bill, add that to the list of "things he's done for us."
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Sporting News Radio (Sirius 94 and XM 208) and 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.