Let me first state that Derek Jeter is clearly one of the best baseball players of this--or any--generation. His understated class, commitment to the game and countless achievements provide inspiration way beyond the baseball diamond. Congratulations to him for his monumental accomplishment of 3,000+ major league hits. In more than 120 years of the national pasttime, only 27 others have reached this historic plateau.
This guy, on the other hand, is a fucking moron. In case you missed it, Christian Lopez was the lucky fan who retrieved Jeter's 3000th hit, emerging triumphantly from the vicious scrum that ensued after the Yankee Captain magically blasted his milestone shot into the left-field bleachers. The sports gods were generous enough to bestow upon him a gift from the heavens, valued at around a quarter of a million dollars. And what did the 'classy' 23 year old Lopez do? He returned that gift to it's sender, electing to GIVE the historic ball back to Jeter, looking a gifthorse square in the mouth and spitting in fate's face. Don't get me wrong--I respect the idea inspiring Lopez's action, that his heart was in the right place...actually, scratch that, I don't. And here's why he's an unfathomable idiot:
1.) There was nothing dignified about what he did. Jeter, who earns more than 20 million dollars a year to play a kid's game, could have easily purchased that ball back at fair market value, using change from under his couch cushion. The ball rightfully belonged to Lopez after he retrieved it, so it's not like he was returning stolen merchandise. He was making a charitable donation...to a MULTI-MILLIONAIRE! That isn't charity at all, nor is it dignified, it is misguided stupidity. Dignity would have been donating that ball to any number of worthwhile charities, some perhaps located right in the very same South Bronx neighborhood which the Yankees call home, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Western World. Just imagine the profound impact that a quarter of a million dollars could have had on the lives of some of the neglected and impoverished youth of this area, innocent children that fear for their lives on a daily basis. And Jeter would STILL ultimately retain possession of his historic keepsake. A win-win for everyone.
2.) I don't believe for a second that he did it out of pure selflessness. He knew that by giving the ball back he would be making headlines, milking the most out of his 15 minutes of fame, receiving a lifetime of free admittance to the Stadium and he probably thought he could at least become Facebook friends with Derek and Minka. I can't say I blame him for wanting to be friends with Minka, I wouldn't mind poking her either (on Facebook, you dirty bastard).
But here's the sad truth: the Yankees only wound up giving him tickets for the rest of the season--a COLOSSALLY and grotesquely cheap gesture, given the magnitude of Lopez's act. Nobody will remember his name after a few weeks given the insanely short-attention span of American society, and Derek and Minka similarly won't give a flying fuck about him after that time. In stark contrast to this young man's fanboy delusions, Jeter ain't gonna be calling him up to go out for cocktails, and by the looks of Lopez, they won't be running into each other at 24 Hour Fitness anytime soon, neither.
3.) He has mounds of student debt and works a low-wage job. Perhaps the adrenaline of the moment had gotten to him, preventing the recent college graduate from using reason and logic to dictate his actions, but private institutions of higher-learning are not cheap...and being a customer service rep for Verizon isn't exactly a cush job. Maybe it will be 20 years down the road when he's still paying off student loans, but I suspect it'll be even sooner--namely when the costly burdens of raising a family start piling up--that he starts feeling the sharp pangs of unimaginable remorse.
4.) Jay-Z agrees with me. Case closed.
Whatever you make of this dude's questionable decision--and I have well over 99 problems with it--one thing is absolutely for sure: Christian Lopez will come to regret his costly error more and more with each passing day of his life.