Taxes And Karma At The Ballpark
When you write a story about Alex Rodriguez and good sportsmanship, anyone familiar with the Yankees player can assume that they know how he will figure in the narrative. But A-Rods' past troubles are no excuse to deprive him of empathy and courteous treatment. In the wake of a recent milestone in his career, it is not Rodriguez's sportsmanship that has been called into question. In this particular case, he's a fan preparing to show that while virtue may not always be his own reward, greed comes at a cost. Rodriguez recently hit his 660 home run, tying the great and beloved Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list. Unlike Mays, Rodriguez reached the milestone under the shadow of his mistakes, including a suspension last year for using performance-enhancing drugs. In large part due to the scandal, the Yankees have refused to pay Rodriguez a seemingly optional bonus to publicize his new record. In The Wall Street Journal, Jason Gay offered a tongue-in-cheek list of other possible gifts for the milestone, including a "trip to La Guardia" and a "bag of chips signed by Derek Jeter." (1) Absent from the list? The ball Rodriguez hit to secure his new position on the all-time home run list. The fan who caught that ball has indicated that he has no intention of giving it to A-Rod, despite the best efforts of both the Yankees and their opponents, the home Red Sox. Visit:- Mike Shuster, the fan in question, turned down an offer of memorabilia signed by both teams, choosing instead to hold on to the ball for now. When Rodriguez was asked about trying to get the ball back, he said, "I haven't been good at negotiating, so I'm going to quit." (2) On his part, Shuster opened a Twitter account requesting ideas on what he should do with the ball; He has mentioned options ranging from selling it to blowing it up to posting the video of the explosion on YouTube. For most of us, baseball is something we enjoy watching while doing other things. But for a Major League Baseball player, any Major League Baseball player, sport is not only a central component of his life, but also the pinnacle of his professional career. The rest of us have many things in life that are more important to us than baseball. Apart from family and other loved ones, a player can have only the game and its achievements within it. We must take this into account when we consider that fans refuse to hand a ball of great personal importance to a player, whether it is the one he hit for his first major league home run or, in the case of A-Rods, the one he hit. for its historic 660th. But if common decency isn't enough to induce a fan to trade a meaningful ball with a player in exchange for a good assortment of loot, we can consider the legal and tax issues at stake. If I walk down a street and drop my wallet and you pick it up, the wallet will not be yours. You do not legally have the option of negotiating a price to return it to me or choosing to keep it. This is true even if the wallet lands on your lawn or through the open window of your parked car and into the front seat. There has been much debate, but surprisingly little jurisprudence, about the ownership of a ball that is thrown into the bleachers of a major league stadium in situations where a team or player wishes to get it back. Everyday experience in other contexts would lead us to believe that a fan should hand over the ball if asked, just as fans usually do when a soccer or basketball ball lands among the spectators. But Major League Baseball has a long tradition of generosity to its fans in this regard. In almost all cases, a batted ball stays with the hobbyist who recovers it with sporting blessing. In fact, players and coaches are encouraged to throw balls to the seats after they are fouled or caught for a final inning out. The practice is good public relations. Most ball possession cases have focused on the dispute between fans, not between a fan and a team or player. For example, Barry Bonds' record-breaking homer in 2001 led to a legal battle between two fans who claimed the ball. That case suggested that the ball was intentionally abandoned when it entered the stands; Evidently, neither Bonds nor his team, the San Francisco Giants, tried to win it back. The judge eventually ended up ordering the two men to sell the ball and split the profits. Some commentators, notably J. Gordon Hylton of Marquette University, have concluded that the purchase of a ticket to a major league game comes with an implicit contract that allows a fan to keep whatever ball they can get back, according to tradition. . However, I am not convinced. A central element of a contract is consideration: you have to pay for what you get. Except on certain draw days, ball clubs do not promise to deliver anything for the price of a ticket, except a ball game. Even the appearance of a star player is not guaranteed; I may go to a game expecting to see my favorite pitcher get on the mound, but if he is scratched, I have no right to demand my money back.

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