There are no Major League baseball games on the afternoon after the All-Star game, so let’s talk about the baseball that took place last weekend. Let’s talk about the baseball that represents Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit.
How much money Christian Lopez would have realized if he sold the baseball Derek Jeter sent into the stands with his 3,000th hit is speculation. However, it would have been in cash and he could have used some of the cash to pay the taxes on the part he got to keep. He also could have used some of the cash for anything he wanted, not just for going to more Yankee games. Considering what the Yankees charge for tickets, the season tickets for the rest of the year that they gave him could wind up costing him something like $15,000 in taxes. But that’s also speculation, depending on how much money he makes and what deductions he’s entitled to.
I’ve said before that the only thing I know about Economics is that I went to high school with a man who grew up to be a prominent Economist. That’s not quite true. I know about marginal cost too. That’s the cost to make one more of something, once the fixed costs of making any of them are out of the way. So, since the Yankees aren’t selling all their tickets, if they give a few they didn’t sell to someone like Christian Lopez, the marginal cost may be less than zero. I say that because if Mr. Lopez and/or his friends and family do use the tickets, he and they will probably visit the concession stands, and buy some things the Yankees can sell to a free seat, but not to an empty one. Yet, Mr. Lopez will have to pay taxes on the retail price of the tickets.
So, the seats are worth something, but they are probably worth less than the ball would be worth on the memorabilia market, and Mr. Lopez will be penalized for his altruism by our tax code. Similarly, the ball is worth something to Derek Jeter, but I’m guessing it is worth less to him than it would be to someone who can’t do what Jeter did, but can pay for memorabilia.
What I don’t understand is the idiots calling sports-talk radio stations insisting that Lopez is a chump, and that Jeter should cut the guy a six-figure check. The ball may be worth six figures to Joe Schlub who is rich, but would rather be one of the biggest stars in baseball (in which case, he’d still be rich, maybe richer, but he’d also be famous, own a huge waterfront house in Tampa and be dating actress Minka Kelly). Mr. Schlub can’t be Jeter, but he can own a small piece of the man’s achievements if he pays enough money. Not only can Derek Jeter be Derek Jeter, there’s nothing Schlub or anyone else can do at this point to keep him from being the Yankees’ star shortstop.
Jeter might like having the ball, but if it were on the market for six figures, I’d be awfully surprised if Jeter wanted it that much. Christian Lopez did something nice for Derek Jeter. People do nice things for celebrities all the time. So, even if you do think Christian Lopez is a chump for giving the ball that represents Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit to Jeter, don’t beat Lopez up for it. The IRS will take care of that for you. Your taxpayer dollars at work.”