Jeter’s Ball: When Fan Becomes Fool

Posted: July 11, 2011 in sports
Tags: , , , , ,

Derek Jeter and Christian Lopez

Is Christian Lopez a great guy or a fool? I say he’s both.

Lopez is the 23-year-old cellphone salesman who caught the 3,000th hit of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s career, which happened to be a home run. Speculation is the ball is worth at least $200,000, perhaps much more.

While I certainly think there can’t be too many nice, generous, good-hearted people in the world, Lopez’s charitable act falls more in my fool category. The baseball was his property, plain and simple. Naturally, Jeter, one of the all-time great Yankees, wanted the ball. Incredibly, he’s the first Yankee ever to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, one of the most revered career achievements in baseball.

Lopez said he never considered anything but giving Jeter the ball. Obviously a huge Yankee fan – he is 6-5, about 300 pounds — Lopez said he felt Jeter deserved the ball. Jeter is one of the most beloved Yankees ever. In a city where the tabloid media look under every rock for scandal and in an age where our professional athletes make almost as many headlines for bad behavior as they do for their athletic accomplishments, Jeter is, indeed, a rare star. He is untouched my scandal. He is known as much for his leadership on the field and for his positive role model lifestyle off the field as he is for his impressive statistics and five championship rings.

But this also is an age in professional sports where athletes make incredible amounts of money and where pro franchises charge hundreds of dollars for a single ticket and $12 for a cup of beer. Jeter makes $18 million a year and has earned more than $200 million during his 16-year Major League Baseball career. It was only this past offseason when Jeter, through his agents of course, demanded a fat multi-year contract, hinting that if a new deal wasn’t forthcoming then he’d be playing elsewhere.

So much for loyalty.

In fairness to Jeter, he did say once the contract negotiation was concluded that he never meant for the haggling to become public and never seriously considered leaving the Yankees. I believe him.

The point I’m making is no secret: pro sports are big business. With few exceptions, the athletes – and rightfully so – don’t hide the fact that money talks and the best offers make them run, not walk, to new teams.

Meanwhile, Lopez lives in a world where he says he still owes a few hundred thousand dollars in college loans.


It seemed such a perfect situation: Rich athlete wants something that struggling young bachelor owns and is willing to give up. Could there be a more perfect “show me the money!” scenario?

This isn’t a case of finding someone’s wallet and returning it to its owner with the cash still in it. This isn’t inflating the price of chainsaws in a hurricane ravaged area because demand far exceeds availability.

In a perfect world, Jeter would return Lopez’s generosity and pay him a fair-market price. A personal meeting with Lopez, three autographed bats, three autographed balls and two autographed jerseys and season tickets (2?) for the remainder of the season some how doesn’t seem quite fair is exchange for the coveted baseball.

Call me greedy. Label me a jerk. Certainly I’m a cynic. Whatever, but there are two thoughts I cannot get out of me head.

One is that Lopez just happens to run into Jeter in a couple of years and Jeter has no idea who Lopez is.

The other is that in the near future Lopez wakes up in the middle of the night, his body covered in sweat, his heart pounding, a frantic expression covering his face and he screams out loud, “Why the hell did I do such a stupid thing?”


  1. matchmkr says:

    I hope you’re just playing ‘sports-talk-host’, and working an angle. I hope this isn’t how you REALLY, in your heart, feel about this. If so, I’m praying for you, David.

    Christian Lopez did something that A LOT more people need to do A LOT more often: he thought about someone other than himself. He thought about what that ball signified to Derek: a career’s worth of work, a lifetime of dedication, and a secured place in baseball history. To that, add what the act of giving it back meant to everyone: a lesson in generosity and selflessness, and an example of loyalty to a team and one of it’s brightest stars. Now, compare that to what it would have meant to Christian: a great piece of Yankee memorabilia while he kept it, and a nice payoff when he got rid of it.

    Which has more value? For Christian, it was clear, so he gave it to Derek. For me, it’s clear, too. For you, however, it’s nothing but greed and self-service to the bitter end that wins out. “Show me the money?” Really? What did Lopez do to earn that potential money? He grabbed a friggin’ ball. It’s this kind of self-absorbed, opportunistic, “make-a-buck-at-all-costs” attitude that has driven an ever-widening wedge between players, teams, and fans. It’s this same attitude that driven this country into the financial tailspin it’s now facing.

    And finally, regarding those two thoughts that you can’t get out of your head…what’s wrong with you? Are you that close to Jeter that you know who he’ll recognize and who he won’t? More importantly, who are to judge Derek’s character and say that Lopez’ act wouldn’t mean enough to him to keep the guy etched in his memory? And most importantly, who are to think that Lopez will ‘come to his sense’ and get back in touch with his own selfishness?

    Over the years, I’ve heard you say some controversial and ridiculous things. And since you’ve begun writing this blog, you’ve occasionally ventured into bizarre and controversial territory (Jimmy Smith is the greatest Jag, and Brunell doesn’t even make your list?). But this is rude, ugly, and pathetic.

    If I find out they’ve begun shooting “The Grinch Strikes Back” anytime soon, I’ll be sure to recommend you for the lead role.

  2. deego says:

    a fool and his money are soon parted. This guy should be hit on the fanny with moses’ tablets for engaging in idolatry.

  3. Wyman Stewart says:

    I appreciate the guy doing the decent, respectable thing to do. David Lamm and people like him are wrong. Hope one day David sees the light.

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